Dear Governor Mills,
We write to you because for far too long, executive branch employees in Maine have been woefully underpaid, earning on average 15 percent less than their peers throughout New England. We urge your administration to go back to the bargaining table with a proposal that will close the pay gap and respect the valuable service of our public servants who keep this state running for us all.
Multiple studies have shown that state workers are chronically underpaid. The State of Maine Market Study Report, dated November 20, 2020, documented that Maine state employees are underpaid by 15 percent on average, confirming the findings of a 2009 study commissioned by the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services. According to the 2020 study, accountants employed by the State are underpaid by 20 to 33 percent; chemists, 24 percent; civil engineers, 20 to 25 percent; and maintenance mechanics, 31 percent. The state continues to pay hundreds of essential workers under $15 an hour. Department of Transportation workers start at $13.21 an hour, office assistants for the Department of Health and Human Services start at $12.84 an hour. Park rangers start at $13.78 an hour and assistant park rangers start at $12.15 an hour. Low wages are a central reason for the recruitment and retention problem rampant in every department of Maine State Government.
Good governance means building a strong foundation for all Mainers to live their lives with dignity. When the State fails to pay their employees a fair wage, that places the quality of essential public services at risk. That threatens our most vulnerable Mainers. For the State to ensure quality, reliable public services for every Mainer, your negotiating team must address the pay gap in a serious manner.
Doing so is also the right thing to do. State workers are lifelines to our communities. This past year, they held our society together at great risk to themselves and their families. Their pay should reflect their essential work. Under your leadership, the State has the opportunity to lead by example. For too long, State Government has not done that.
Please, settle a fair contract with state employees.
League of Women Voters of Maine
Maine Center for Economic Policy
Maine Conservation Voters
Maine Education Association
Maine Equal Justice
Maine People’s Alliance
Maine Women’s Lobby
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