A union representing state workers has ratified a new two-year contract.
That contract will provide pay raises and expanded benefits to the 1,039 workers represented by Council 93 of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees.
The state and AFSCME Council 93’s negotiators reached a tentative agreement on Aug. 17, and the union’s membership formally ratified the proposed contract on Sept. 14, according to the governor’s office.
AFSCME Council 93 Executive Director Mark Bernard said Wednesday that the contract was the result of “countless hours” of “good faith bargaining.”
“Like most collective bargaining agreements, it required compromise from both sides, but, overall, we are satisfied with what we were able to accomplish at the bargaining table. Our state corrections and mental health professionals do very difficult and very dangerous work for the people of Maine,” Bernard said.
Under the new contract, the union’s workers will receive a 6 percent pay increase, effective Oct. 1. That will be followed by another 3 percent pay hike, effective July 1, 2024. Beyond that, the contract sets a new higher pay tier that will give a 4 percent pay hike for those workers who have reached their maximum pay.
The union workers also will see increased parental leave; expanded bereavement leave; increases for child care reimbursement, time off, longevity pay and shift differentials; and more.
“AFSCME’s contract is the result of respectful, productive negotiations that deliver on our commitment to provide meaningful pay increases as part of an attractive compensation and benefits package for our employees,” said Kirsten Figueroa, the commissioner of the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services. “We deeply value our employees and their service and will continue to work hard to make the State of Maine an employer of choice for people.”
The AFSCME Council 93 is the second-largest union representing state workers.
That comes as the state remains at an impasse with the Maine Service Employee Association, a union representing more than 13,000 current and former state workers, including child protective workers, snow plow drivers, environmental engineers and ferry operators.
The contract between the state and MSEA expired in July, and the talks since then have failed to produce an agreement. Last week, the Department of Administrative and Financial Services requested third-party mediation to work through the dispute. The state maintains both sides remain “hundreds of millions of dollars apart.”
The MSEA maintains that the state’s budget surplus and record “rainy day fund” have come at the expense of underpaid state workers, some of whom regularly experience forced overtime and some of whom have worked 21 days straight.
A 2020 study found state worker salaries were, on average, 11 percent to 15 percent “below market” for similar positions. But the Mills administration has said the state responded by raising pay by nearly 14 percent since Mills took office in 2019. That increase is 40 percent higher than the raises provided over the decade before Gov. Janet Mills took office, according to the governor’s office.
The workers represented by the MSEA remain covered under the terms of the expired contract.