Lewiston’s city and school leaders are working hard to maintain quality local services during the COVID-19 pandemic. These efforts come with a cost, though: 12 municipal positions, including police officers, a fire inspector and public works employees, are staying vacant. The city is counting on federal coronavirus funding and budget cuts to avoid up to six layoffs. The fewer workers, the more work that falls on everyone else.

The members of my union chapter, Local 5 of Maine Service Employees Association, SEIU Local 1989, work for both the city and school departments. We are proud and honored to serve everyone in our great city. We appreciate the determined efforts of our city and school leaders to get through this pandemic with as little harm as possible.

Jobs of Maine workers are on the line. In Augusta, 32 workers were laid off. Bangor passed a hiring freeze and furloughed employees at the city-owned Cross Insurance Center.

With more than 138,000 Mainers filing for unemployment since March, it’s urgent that local and state services continue without interruption. The U.S. House of Representatives recognized the need for Congress to provide direct aid for state and local governments. In May, the House passed the HEROES Act, providing $1 trillion for state and local services. However, the U.S. Senate hasn’t yet voted on it.

U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King need to stand up for local and state services, and the public workers who provide them, and immediately pass the HEROES Act.

Nicholaus Richard, Lewiston

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