AUGUSTA – With the state’s finances still unsteady, negotiations are due to begin for labor contracts that will cover thousands of state workers after the current agreements end June 30.

The talks will begin with precarious government revenue and looming debt to the state pension system — and a sour taste for union members over what they gave up to help balance the state’s budget in 2009.

The state workers will seek to counter Gov. Paul LePage’s claims that state government is “bloated” and wasteful.

Most of the workers are the 10,000 in the executive branch who are covered by the Maine State Employees Association.

The MSEA also represents a few hundred judicial branch workers and some legislative branch employees.

“We’re really talking about the people who keep Maine moving,” said union spokesman Tom Farkas.

Farkas said the negotiating team elected by membership has just begun to meet. It’s too early to say what it will request and what the state will offer. Wages and benefits for all executive branch state employees account for 14.5 percent of the state budget, according to the union.

To balance the state’s books in 2008-09, state workers gave more than $34 million in wage and benefit cuts, including 20 unpaid shutdown days, a freeze on merit pay and a loss of longevity pay for a year, Farkas said.