New market pay study: State workers underpaid compared to New England

MSEA-SEIU members who work as office assistants and office associates are on the front lines of providing quality services to Maine people in this pandemic, yet workers in both classifications are paid only 79 to 80 percent of what their peers throughout New England earn. Underpaying is rampant throughout Maine State Government, a new report shows.

On Feb. 10, the Mills administration released to the Maine Legislature’s State and Local Government Committee a new and comprehensive State of Maine Market Study Report comparing the wages of State workers to our public and private sector counterparts throughout New England. The findings confirm what we’ve been telling the public and lawmakers for years: The State continues to substantially underpay us for the work we do. Immediate action and progress are needed to address this longstanding injustice.

The Market Study Report confirms what a similar pay study found back in January of 2009: State workers earn about 85% of what our counterparts are paid for comparable work.

Our Executive Branch members won the right to this study in our last contract negotiations and over the last year representatives of the Mills administration and our union worked together on the new Market Study Report comparing Executive Branch job classifications with similar public and private sector jobs throughout New England.

The findings show wages of State of Maine workers are 13.8 percent lower compared to Massachusetts, 6.3 percent lower compared to New Hampshire, 10.7 percent lower compared to Rhode Island and 2.6 percent lower compared to Vermont.

The study used a sample of 100 “benchmark” job classifications to determine the overall competitiveness of the Executive Branch.

“The State’s base pay is consistently below the market average at the pay range minimum, midpoint, and maximum,” the report states. “Of the 100 benchmark job titles, 63 benchmark titles are below the market average; 14 benchmark titles are competitive with the market average; 5 benchmark titles are above the market average; 18 benchmark job titles do not have sufficient market data to make a comparison.”

We’re determined to use the report’s findings to advocate for pay equity. We began advocating in 2019 in the Maine Legislature and in our previous round of contract bargaining for funding to conduct the market study that led to the new report. As a result of our advocacy, funding was secured to conduct both the market study and a related study of the State’s job classification system. In addition to the Market Study Report, the classification study continues.

MSEA-SEIU leaders and staff on Dec. 10 briefed members in the Executive Branch via a Zoom call on the Market Study Report, the concerns and priorities identified in nearly 3,000 bargaining surveys completed, and on what it will take in our worksites, in the Maine Legislature and in our communities to win fair contracts this year. Stay tuned for further briefing announcements.

Updated: February 11, 2021 — 8:19 AM