Representational services roundup —
ACLU, Planned Parenthood, York County, MainePERS, Turnpike
AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION OF MAINE
ACLU of Maine workers are navigating the process of voluntary recognition and starting to prepare to bargain their first contract.
“We, the workers of the ACLU of Maine, came together to form a union because we wanted more transparency and democracy in the workplace,” ACLU of Maine worker Michael Kebede said about why he and his coworkers organized a union with ours. “We all believed that we needed a voice in the determination of our wages, benefits, and time, place and manner of work. We believe a union is the best structure for achieving these goals.”
PLANNED PARENTHOOD IN MAINE
Planned Parenthood of Northern New England workers in Maine have started negotiations. They have a number of key issues they want to address in their first contract, including establishing rights at work, fair systems for training, promotion and pay. In negotiations, the team also is raising up issues of racial justice. The team has reached a few initial tentative agreements.
MAINEPERS ADMINISTRATIVE, PROFESSIONAL-TECHNICAL, SUPERVISORY BARGAINING UNITS
MSEA-SEIU members at the Maine Public Employees Retirement System have ratified one-year extensions negotiated by our bargaining team for our Administrative, Professional-Technical and Supervisory bargaining units. The contract ratification vote was conducted electronically due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The contract extensions provide a 2.5% pay raise effective Jan. 1, 2021, across all units. The extensions runs from Nov. 1, 2020, through Oct. 31, 2021. Our Bargaining Team at MainePERS: Melissa Fritzberg, Loriann Foxwell, Joanna Knox, George Boff, Line Larrabee and Lindy Henninger.
MAINE TURNPIKE AUTHORITY
Members of our coalition bargaining team at the Maine Turnpike Authority ratified three-year contracts restructuring the turnpike authority into three bargaining units (Headquarters, Operations and Fare Collectors). This marked the first time in MSEA-SEIU history a contract-ratification vote was conducted electronically. The new contracts run from Dec. 27, 2020, through Dec. 30, 2023. They include: a revised, 10-step, merit-based pay scale (three-step increase); a pay raise of 1% or the New England Consumer Price Index, whichever is higher in each of the three years; and a new $2,500 annual medical insurance co-pay reimbursement with no rollover. In addition, the contracts increase the boot and tool allowances and the wellness benefit. Our Bargaining Team: Dawna Crockett, Abbey Crowell, Sandra Doyon, Mark Gustin, Bill Hartley, Deidre Kinney, Scott Lachance (lead member for Supervisors), Raymond Leach, Cal Paquet (lead member for Employees) and Jim Sotir.
YORK COUNTY GOVERNMENT
Members of our bargaining team for York County Government ratified a one-year contract extension covering July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021. The agreement provides for a 2 percent retroactive wage increase for all covered employees. Members of our Bargaining Team: Rachel Sherman and Donna Ring.
GRIEVANCE, MEDIATION AND ARBITRATION
Over the last eight months, grievances, mediations and arbitrations have shifted from in-person meetings and hearings to remote formats such as Zoom. More stewards are volunteering to handle cases remotely, including cases outside normal geographic areas. After an initial break in mediation and arbitrations, we have gotten back on pace. Mediations began in the early summer and adapt well to the remote format. We began holding remote arbitration hearings later in the summer, and we find them to be slower paced, resulting in additional days of hearings. Since resuming arbitration, the sole decision we have received concerned a class of field inspectors who were forced to work from home during administrative closures due to weather. Ruling in our favor, the arbitrator found a binding past practice of paying the inspectors administrative time during snow storms.
Members who work for the Lewiston Public Schools held at a socially distanced, informational picket Sept. 28 outside a meeting of the Lewiston School Committee. A week later, our bargaining team secured a new contract with an improved pay scale
Members at Lewiston Schools secure new, improved pay scale
For years, the 70 administrative employees represented by our union in the Lewiston Public Schools have been working under an outdated pay scale. The workers include special education secretaries and billing clerks, building principal clerks, library assistants, clerk typists and the custodial staff, including head custodians.
The wage disparities between their outdated pay scale and those of surrounding communities became so severe that staffing shortages were a reality, particularly in terms of recruiting and retaining custodians. In fact, the school department started the current school year down seven custodians.
“The old pay scale wasn’t providing a living wage and it wasn’t consistent with the wages paid in surrounding communities,” said MSEA-SEIU Member Ross Gilchrist, who works as head custodian at Geiger Elementary School. “There were serious problems that led to quite a few positions not being filled, and that made it difficult to deliver services in the schools.”
In contract bargaining this fall, Gilchrist and his fellow bargaining team members, Special Education Secretary Jennifer Ross and Principal Clerk Rachael Crowley, vowed to fight for a new pay scale reflecting everyone’s hard work and the wages paid by surrounding school districts.
Their determined efforts paid off Oct. 7 when our bargaining team for the Lewiston Public Schools and management reached agreement on a new contract with a new pay scale. “Our goal in these negotiations was to provide a living wage to everyone in our bargaining units,” Gilchrist said. “The new pay scale we won in this contract goes a long way toward accomplishing that goal.”
Negotiations were delayed by complications relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. School management had two exposures to COVID-19. In September, our bargaining team held an informational picket that drew community support outside a meeting of the Lewiston School Committee. The two sides reach a tentative agreement on the new contract the following week. Ratified by members Oct. 29, the new contract runs from July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2023.
“Our new contract will be able to ensure we retain our current employees and recruit new ones easier,” said MSEA-SEIU Bargaining Team Member Jennifer Ross, who works as a special education secretary for the Lewiston Public Schools. “We are very excited about the opportunity this means to our current employees now that they will have comparable wages to surrounding areas, especially since we are the second largest school district in the state.”
Under the old pay scale, the lowest paid bargaining unit employee earned $13 an hour. Under the new pay scale, the lowest paid bargaining unit employee on July 1, 2022, will earn $14.93 an hour, a 14.8 percent increase.