Last October, state employees were asked their opinion of their working conditions. One union leader said what the workers had to say was surprising.
Executive Director for Maine State Employee Association Alec Maybarduk said, "They reinforced a lot of what we've been hearing in recent years just that there are too few workers doing way too much work for too little pay and often with insufficient training and support."
According to Maybarduk, 83 percent of workers said they're having problems with recruiting and retaining workers, 63 percent said there are understaffing issues, 40 percent said they are having trouble meeting their monthly bills and 60 percent said they are considering leaving state service.
"So our members provide critical services to help us get through some of the tough times and help us prosper in the good times," said Maybarduk.
Environmental engineer Kerem Gungor said he thinks improving compensation and benefits would be a step in the right direction, "So it becomes competitive with the other employers so we don't have to go through the recruitment process frequently."
Gungor said state workers would benefit from revolving training to keep up with technology.
"Recruitment issue is that you can't get new hires in at a low starting pay. And the retention issue is that you can't keep the talented people that we have on their workforce because there are so many private sector companies that will just draw them away with bonuses and higher pay overall," Maine Department of Transportation Brian Markey said.
Maybarduk said they will be going into contract negotiations this year and he thinks there will be bills in front of the legislature to deal with the concerns raised by state workers.
"If there's a willingness to tackle these problems I think they are solvable," Maybarduk said.