State Workers In Augusta Address Issuses With Employment Recruitment and Retention 

Public workers from around the state gathered in Augusta in an effort to address concerns they have with employee recruitment and retention.”We’re here to advocate for the state workers that haven’t had a raise in four years, and the governor’s budget proposes to freeze Maine’s merit, longevity again for another two years,” said Ginette Rivard, president of the Maine State Employees Association.”Everybody has a priority, and unfortunately, you know, the governor has the very difficult task of making reductions and eliminations. Merit pay has been frozen for a number of years, longevity is something where you get a bonus no matter what your performance is, based on five years, ten years, 15 years, and so on. So, this is an area where we thought, let’s put more money into professional development and reduce where we can elsewhere,” said Adrienne Bennett, spokesperson to Governor LePage.Workers say not seeing a raise in the last four years isn’t fair, especially when pay for their private sector counterparts is substantially more in some cases.”It’s not fair for state workers to be so over worked for so much money less than the private sector. Right now, a comparable position for an engineer with 20 some-odd years of experience, pays 20 to 25 thousand dollars more a year in Maine, than the state position,” said Kalia Breskin, senior biotechnical engineer at MaineDoT.”We haven’t heard directly from state employees, but what we know right now is at we’re still in mediation and we’ve got 8 million dollars on the table for salary plans and salary increases and that’s something that we’re very willing to sit at the table and talk about and getting that money into the salary plans, but we can’t not do that until we have a contract, and at this point we don’t,” said Bennett.”It means that their ability to take care of their own family is reduced. It means they have less money to spend at our local businesses and it’s also a morale issue. All of this work is really hard work and sometimes very emotionally taxing,” said Rivard.State workers say the state could lose some good public employees.”My concern is that the raises not where they should be, or coming up to where we need them to be, we’re losing a lot of trained people,” said Carlton Tripp, a mechanic at MaineDot.