October 16, 2013

Maine, union reach deal on shutdown layoffs

The plan for post-Oct. 17 comes as LePage says he called a civil emergency to nullify the union contract.

By Tom Bell tbell@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Gov. Paul LePage originally said the civil emergency was to help furloughed workers get benefits, but he has been caught on tape saying something different.

Steve Mistler/Staff Writer

Listen to Gov. LePage's remarks

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Chris Quint, executive director of the Maine State Employees Association, said LePage’s statements complicated negotiations with the “professionals” in the state’s Human Resources Bureau.

He said the union never threatened to sue state government. He said union officials had told LePage they are willing to negotiate with him in “good faith” but are not willing to waive their contractual rights.

Quint also said the Contract Clause of the U.S. Constitution prohibits states from enacting any law that retroactively impairs contract rights. “The governor does not have the authority to do this,” he said.

Tipping, who works for the Maine People’s Alliance and Maine People’s Resource Center, said the person who made the recording of LePage attended the event, but Tipping declined to provide the person’s name.

LePage met Tuesday morning with legislative leaders to discuss the plan for additional layoffs if the government shutdown continues past Thursday.

Alfond, who attended the meeting, said the layoffs would be staggered. The timing of the layoffs would be based on several factors, including an agency’s level of federal funding, whether an agency is still waiting to receive federal funding, and what proportion of an individual employee’s salary is paid for by federal dollars, he said.

House Republican Leader Ken Fredette of Newport said LePage and legislative leaders discussed how to protect Maine’s workers and the state’s economy from the “dysfunction” taking place in Washington.

He said the state needs to develop a plan so it can be prepared to handle such situations in the future.

Tom Bell can be contacted at 791-6369 or at:tbell@pressherald.com

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