AUGUSTA – The state and the Maine State Employees Association are still negotiating a new contract, three months after the last contract expired.

The 10,000 workers represented by the union will be covered by the contract that expired June 30 as long as talks continue, said Chris Quint, executive director of the MSEA.

“We feel, from a union perspective, we have come to the table with good-faith, cost-saving proposals,” he said.

Although he did not want to be specific, Quint said the union has addressed concerns raised by Gov. Paul LePage’s Chief of Staff John McGough.

In an opinion piece published in June in The Portland Press Herald, McGough said the state objects to a monthly telephone subsidy that’s paid to some state workers and the practice of paying union officials state wages while they attend union meetings and conventions.

He also wrote that the governor wants to eliminate the automatic deduction of union fees from all state employees’ paychecks, regardless of whether they are union members. Legislation to make that change proved so controversial toward the end of this year’s legislative session that it was held over until next year.

Joyce Oreskovich, director of the state Bureau of Human Resources, said the union offered solutions that were part of a larger package that was rejected by the state. Both sides requested help from a mediator to continue negotiations.

“It feels far apart when you can’t come to an agreement,” she said. “We have had some tentative agreements.”

State officials would like to change contract provisions regarding promotions and the classification of workers, Oreskovich said.

Additional meetings are set for Oct. 18, 19 and 20.

MaineToday Media State House Writer Susan Cover can be contacted at 620-7015 or at: [email protected]