Dear MEA Members,

Educators across Maine are so very disappointed.

Late last night and early this morning, Governor Janet Mills vetoed two important bills that MEA supported this session. LD 240 would have given teachers the right to negotiate over planning and preparation periods. LD 1177 would have made our contracts subject to binding arbitration for salaries, health insurance and retirement. Both bills would have provided the structural support MEA members need to help their students, and ensured educators were listened to and respected for the great work we do every day.

Governor Mills did not even give educators the opportunity to speak with her about why these bills were needed for our students. Instead, she timed her vetoes to ensure there would be no recourse.

In the Governor’s veto letters, she stated her reasons-saying these bills disrupt precedent. But that was exactly the point of the bills!  The status quo has not been working for MEA members. The imbalance of power has taken a toll on our members and ultimately impacts our students. The Governor had the chance to address that imbalance but has opted not to do so.

The opponents of these bills have yet to offer any solutions to the increases in demands placed on teachers and support staff, in our workload, in the challenges we face every day, or to the shortages we are facing in our profession. They worked hard to maintain things as they are.

But the majority of legislators did hear you! And we do want to thank those representatives and senators who listened to our members and have demonstrated clearly their support for us and the important work we do.  They stood with us and they worked hard to make things better. Let’s be sure to remember that!

The Maine Education Association and its members have always said, “No permanent friends, no permanent enemies, just permanent issues.” MEA will continue to focus on the issues and continue to make the case that the voices of the experts—the teachers and the education support professionals who work for and with the students in our schools—these are the voices that must be listened to and respected.

We will be working on ways to move forward, despite the Governor’s actions.  We will be calling on you, the members, to be actively engaged as we continue to work for what is right for educators and for students.

Thank you to all who shared your stories with MEA and with elected officials. Let’s keep standing up, speaking up, and speaking out!

Please take a few moments to share your thoughts and reactions with me by sending me an e-mail, and of course, send along any questions you may have. I look forward to hearing from you!

In Unity,

Grace Leavitt

MEA President