Members at MPA make gains, ratify new contract

MSEA-SEIU members on our bargaining team at the Maine People’s Alliance are, from left in this January 2020 photo, Staff Writer Cara DeRose, Campaign Manager Rachel Ackoff, Field Manager James Hawkins Howard and Organizer Sydney Avitia-Jacques.

MSEA-SEIU members who work for the Maine People’s Alliance, largest community action organization in Maine, on June 3 ratified a new three-and-a-half year contract. It addresses key issues they identified in their worksites. Key gains include increasing the salaried floor from $30,000 to $36,000, increasing the hourly pay floor from $14 to $17, and adding five new holidays: the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

The new contract runs from May 1, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2023. It also increases holidays, vacation time and sick leave for canvassers, and adds canvassers to all other parts of the contract, virtually eliminating the previous tiered system of carve-outs for canvassers. It provides canvassers with inclement-weather protections.

In addition to increasing the salaried floor from $30,000 to $36,000, and increasing the hourly pay floor from $14 to $17, the new contract also strengthens compensation for MPA workers in other ways. It establishes an annual pay equity evaluation and guarantees management won’t ask job candidates for previous salaries. It boosts the annual longevity increase for the $50,000-$59,999 range from 2 to 3 percent, increases the canvasser quota from $135 to $140, and replaces the canvasser percentage-based commission system with a bonus system.

The new contract increases parental leave from 10 weeks to 12 weeks and provides for an eight-week sabbatical after seven years of employment, subject to approval. It adds a two-week notice for changes in work assignment and a two-week mandatory notice for changes in work schedules. It provides for a paid hour per quarter to be used for union meetings and one professional development opportunity per year. It guarantees that disciplined employees will be explicitly informed of their right to a union representative present at discipline meetings. It adds a lunch stipend for canvassers traveling over 100 miles and allows for reimbursement for coffee and meal expenses for meetings as part of job duties.

The new contract guarantees an hour of Indigenous education on Indigenous Peoples’ Day. In addition, it increases canvasser/hourly employee insurance eligibility by reducing the waiting period from 90 days to 60 days. It provides protection against increases in out-of-pocket maximums; any amount over $4,500 will be covered by MPA. Other gains include:

  • Language on ergonomic work stations, heating, and air conditioning;
  • MPA will provide five to 10 cold-weather rain jackets to canvassers;
  • Canvassers working during winter will receive an annual $150 stipend for weather gear;
  • Employees who call out due to unsafe travel conditions may not be penalized or disciplined;
  • Accountability for canvass directors to work with canvassers who feel unsafe canvassing and consider allowing for double turfs, paired canvassing, safety training and personal alarms;
  • Language clarifying eligibility for compensatory time and a procedure for going over the comp time cap;
  • A work-planning check-in system intended to limit hours worked over 40 and manage employee’s workload;
  • Decreases program staff probation from 120 days to 90 days;
  • Probationary employees can now access vacation time;
  • New language on limited-term employees: does not include interns and fellows but limits them to a maximum of 20 hours/week for no longer than 1 year; limited-term employees receive all pay and benefits and are covered by the contract; MPA must give MSEA notice of hiring and term of any limited-term employees; limited-term positions cannot last longer than one year; time spent as a limited-term employee counts toward probation for any employees moved to permanent positions; anyone hired under a limited term must be informed of MPA’s intended term upon hire;
  • Standardizes gender-neutral pronouns.

Updated: June 5, 2020 — 10:53 AM