AUGUSTA- State employees have been at the bargaining table for a new contract since February.
On Saturday, workers held a rally outside the state house to make sure their demands were heard.
Fair pay, better benefits, and a realistic workload are some of the things they say they want to see in a new contract.
“They feel betrayed and are quite baffled about the state of the contract negotiations,” said Joann Whipple, an adult protective worker with the Department of Health and Human Services. “As they’re going forward, we may not have a contract.”
Many people said Governor Mills isn’t keeping her campaign promises to help the working class.
“We went many years with no raise at all,” said Rachel Bowler, who has been a state employee for 10 years. “Then the first initial offering from the governors office was 2 and 2. That’s insulting.”
According to event organizers, 20% of state employees have a second job.
“We just find it’s unacceptable to have to do to two jobs to basically make ends meet, three jobs in the case of one gentleman who spoke.”” explained Dean Staffieri, the vice president of the Maine State Employees Association.
A great benefits package is what attracted many of these workers to state employment.
Now many are struggling financially and with a larger workload.
“In every branch, we’re having a hard time getting new employees and then old employees have been leaving,” Staffieri added. “So it’s not unusual to be down a lot of staff, which increases peoples work loads, case loads become massive. It’s very hard to keep up.”
People at the rally say calling your lawmakers and the governors office are just some of the ways you can help them.
In a statement from the governor’s office, her staff says that Governor Mills highly values the state’s dedicated and talented public employee and that while the work will take time, her administration is committed to working with union leaders to reach a fair contract agreement.