Auburn Public Services employees picket in front of Auburn Hall on Monday, calling for increased wages and better health benefits. 

AUBURN — Employees of Auburn Public Services gathered in front of Auburn Hall late Monday to protest what they argue are “substandard” wages and health benefits. 

A union representative for the roughly 50 employees called the current wages a “travesty” Monday, just before a few dozen workers picketed outside Auburn Hall.

Commuters driving by honked their horns as the employees held signs that said, “A fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay” and “We need a contract now.” The group marched up and down the sidewalk.

Ray Cote, business agent for Teamsters Local Union No. 340, said labor contract negotiations between the union and the city broke down recently after the city turned down the union’s health care proposal and a 3 percent wage increase for each year of the contract. Cote said they were told to choose “one or the other.” 

Contract negotiations began in February. The Teamsters’ contract expires June 30. 

Walter Reynolds, a plow driver with 10 years in Auburn, said the city has continually promised the union wage increases “next time,” but doesn’t make it happen.

He said since he’s been in Auburn, a number of Public Services employees have left to take jobs elsewhere. He said they train in Auburn, and get better pay in other communities.

Cote said wages in other communities are “substantially higher” than in Auburn. The “lowest classification” employee in Auburn starts at $13.40 an hour. Other cities, such as Saco and Biddeford, have starting wages of at least $15 or $16 an hour. 

“I hope we can get this done soon,” Reynolds said. 

An Auburn Public Services worker holds a sign saying “Make Auburn Great Again, Pay Auburn PW Workers,” outside Auburn Hall on Monday. 

An Auburn Public Services worker holds a sign saying “Make Auburn Great Again, Pay Auburn PW Workers” outside Auburn Hall on Monday. 

An Auburn Public Services worker holds a sign saying “Make Auburn Great Again, Pay Auburn PW Workers” outside Auburn Hall on Monday. 


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