BY RAMONA DU HOUX
December 20, 2013
Members of the Maine State Employees Association, Local 1989 of the Service Employees International Union, have rejoined the Maine AFL-CIO, a statewide labor federation, after a seven-year hiatus. Collectively, the two groups represent more than 42,000 Maine workers.
“Rejoining the Maine AFL-CIO formalizes the effective working partnerships that MSEA-SEIU members and Maine AFL-CIO members have demonstrated over the last several years,” said Ginette Rivard, president of the Maine State Employees Association. “We have worked closely together to defend the right of Maine workers to have a voice in their wages, benefits and working conditions.
The two state-level union groups split in 2006, about 16 months after Local 1989’s parent organization, along with the Teamsters, split with the national AFL-CIO. This was during a a push by the MSEA to increase membership and a dispute about how membership dues and affiliation fees were to be spent.
Don Berry, president of the Maine AFL-CIO, a federation of 150 local unions, welcomed members of the Maine State Employees Association back into the statewide federation.
“MSEA’s decision to unite with the broader labor movement is great news for Maine workers. A stronger, more unified grassroots movement of working men and women is exactly what’s needed to raise wages and rebuild economic security for Maine families. Together we are stronger – it’s as simple as that. Together working people have a stronger voice to challenge inequality and defend their rights on the job,” said Berry.
“Now that MSEA-SEIU Local 1989 members have rejoined our federation, we can work even closer together to make sure all Maine workers earn a living wage and have good healthcare and respect on the job.”
The news didn’t sit will with Maine’s Republican Party.
“This really proves that the unions have lost their moorings as to what their purpose is,” said Maine GOP Executive Director Jason Savage echoed Littlefield.
The Maine State Employees Association, SEIU Local 1989, represents 12,000 Maine workers. The Maine AFL-CIO is a federation of more than 150 local unions that, with MSEA-SEIU’s re-affiliation, now represents more than 42,000 workers.
“Together, we will move forward to address common legislative issues such as the urgent need to accept federal funds to expand healthcare coverage and to elect a governor who respects Maine workers. We are united in supporting Congressman Mike Michaud as Maine’s next governor,” said Rivard.