AUGUSTA — Labor union representatives, advocates and Maine state workers changes need to be made to the state’s unemployment compensation system to make it more efficient and fair.

A special commission established last spring took public testimony Thursday.

Republican Gov. Paul LePage set up the commission in April to examine the system of paying benefits to jobless workers in the wake of criticism that he pressured unemployment hearing officers, who decide unemployment benefit appeals, to decide more cases to favor business.

The Maine Education Association says employees are rarely represented by lawyers at the hearings because they can’t afford them, putting them at a disadvantage.

A hearing officer for the Division of Administrative Hearings says officers are fair and impartial, but the system can be simplified to include fewer processes for appeal.

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