From John Kosinski, MEA Government Relations Director

Right to Strike:

Are you ready for MEA’s #RedforEd Day at the State House? Our bill to give school employees the right to strike will be scheduled for a public hearing on Wednesday, April 17 in the Labor Committee. This is great news, because this falls on Spring Break for most schools.

Click here to sign up to attend the #RedforEd rally and public hearing on Wednesday, April 17. MEA’s #RedforEd Day at the State House is a perfect opportunity to show our collective strength and push for legislation that will directly impact our students, schools and professions. We are planning many events that day and hope to have a sea of red at the State House. Please join us if you can:

$40K the First Day:

On Wednesday, the Education Committee passed LD 898 which would lift the minimum teacher salary to $40,000 and provide the funding in order to lift all salaries to that wage!

Under LD 898, the State will pay the cost for the first year, and then provide additional funding in the 2nd and 3rd year to districts that need it. Sadly, the vote was partisan, with all the Democrats supporting the bill and Republicans voting instead for a bill to ‘study’ a statewide teacher contract – an idea the MEA opposes that was voted down last session.

For six years, the MEA has advocated to increase the minimum teacher salary to $40,000 and the reason is simple – our salaries have fallen way behind other professionals and we are struggling to recruit new teachers into the profession. With over 1/3 of the teachers in Maine’s classrooms 55 or older, we simply must do more to make the profession a more attractive career choice, and lifting the minimum salary is the best first step. Cheers to Senator Rebecca Millett, the Senate Chair of the Education Committee. For the past 5 years, she’s worked with us to make this bill a reality and we finally have a chance to pass it!

Please write a note to your legislators in support of LD 898:

Right to Negotiate for Planning and Prep, Workload:

Many of you have asked, what is going on with LD 240 – our bill to allow teachers to negotiate over planning and prep periods, workload and transfers. Nothing yet. The bill is in a holding pattern and we are waiting for the Education Committee to review it, but the superintendents have been calling your legislators and begging them to vote against it. Simply put, superintendents and school boards do NOT want to give you the right to negotiate and they are going to great lengths to stop this bill.  Inaccurate information about the bill is being spread and it is incumbent upon us to correct it.

Here’s the deal, if you want the right to negotiate over key ed policy issues you need to email your legislators:

Better yet, call them.Click here to find your state senator and their contact information. Click here to find your state representative and their contact information. Don’t delay. Write and call them today.

Bills on Deck: There are so many other bills making their way through the legislature. Too many to cover here. Here is a list of the key ones we see on the horizon. Feel free to email or call me if you have any questions about any of these items:

  • the student loan bill of rights
  • bill to roll back the minimum wage increases passed by voters
  • bills to improve anti-hunger programs in Maine schools
  • bill to ban Native American mascots
  • a bill to protect probationary teachers by shortening their probationary periods to two years if they are rated as ‘effective’