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March 9, 2012

LePage, union beef headed to court

The LePage administration must defend itself in court against an allegation it did not negotiate in good faith with one of the state’s largest labor unions.

The Maine State Employees Association, representing public safety workers, plow drivers, environmental protection workers and nurses, filed a complaint last year that the administration was more intent on forcing steep concessions during contract negotiations to close a pension deficit, rather than negotiating.

The Maine Labor Relations Board recently ruled the complaint merited a trial before the board, according to the Bangor Daily News. In a press release from the governor’s office, the state highlighted several other allegations that were dismissed, including charges of discrimination and that the governor circumvented the legislative process.

The concessions, including a three-year freeze in cost of living increases and a 3% cap thereafter, were sought as part of the state’s $6.1 billion budget aimed at solving a $4 billion unfunded pension liability. The state is constitutionally required to fund the pension liability by 2028.

The BDN reports that a trial date had not been set as of Thursday.

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