Kennebec Journal Staff
AUGUSTA -- The executive director of the Maine Labor Relations Board on Wednesday dismissed a complaint that the state is hiring private contractors for too many jobs without notifying the union.
However, The Maine State Employees Association, which amended its complaint Tuesday to also ask for an emergency freeze on contracting out work that's typically done by union members, already has vowed to appeal the dismissal to the full board.
The association's 16-page complaint, originally filed in February, alleges that the state is bound by contract to negotiate with the union before it hires nonmembers.
In his decision dismissing the complaint, Marc Ayotte finds that the law requires the state to maintain the status quo after a contract expires and the association's complaint fails to state a claim under the State Employees Labor Relations Act. Management rights and contracting out provisions should be treated "like other provisions of expired collective bargaining agreements," Ayotte found.
The state and the union have been in contract negotiations for more than a year. The most recent contract covering about 10,000 state employees expired in June.
Gov. Paul LePage's administration immediately seized on Ayotte's decision, calling the complaint unfounded.
The employees association "is desperate to find an issue to fight Gov. LePage on, and this is another failed attempt to find one with any legal footing," said John McGough, LePage's chief of staff. "The LePage administration is working to make government more efficient and effective."
In March, the labor board issued a split decision on other complaints filed by the union. Ayotte, though he dismissed other accusations by the union, ruled that there was enough evidence of possible bad-faith bargaining tactics to call for a hearing, which hasn't been scheduled yet.
The union says the administration walked out of negotiations at a critical time, refused to bargain seriously until the contract was nearly up, and demanded "extreme concessions."Tweet
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