A top official in the Mills Administration told state employees at the Department of Administrative and Financial Services (DAFS) Wednesday that they may be feeling a little out-of-sorts due to the supermoon tugging on the water in their bodies and Mercury being in retrograde.
“Being approximately 70% water ourselves, the impact of the moon’s tidal pull on us is real. With the moon being so close to us and Mercury being in retrograde, well, that’s a pretty big one-two punch that may result in us feeling out of sorts,” DAFS Commissioner Kirsten Figueroa wrote in a bizarre agency-wide email Wednesday.
“That’s when it’s good to remember how important it is to look up,” Figueroa said.
The idea that the supermoon or the travel of Mercury can physically impact the human body are commonly regurgitated pseudoscientific claims.
The commissioner urged her employees to have a relaxing Labor Day even as she warned that heavenly celestial bodies were conspiring against them.
Labor Day is also, it turns out, the day when the current contract for state employees will finally expire if the Mills Administration can’t reach an agreement with the Maine Service Employees Association (MSEA), the union that reps state workers.
The bitter negotiations led the MSEA earlier this year to file a complaint against the Mills Administration with the Maine Labor Relations Board. That complaint alleged that the administration was negotiating in bad faith over pay for executive branch employees, including DAFS’ rank-and-file workers.
More recently, the Mills Administration’s stingy bargaining tactics have caused MSEA members contemplate illegal tactics, like sick outs.
The MSEA and the Mills Administration remain miles apart in their collective bargaining. Or, to keep with the astrology theme, the MSEA is asking for the supermoon but Gov. Janet Mills’ team is only offering a small meteorite.
Mercury in retrograde and stalled contract negotiations won’t have the Figueroa household down too much, though.
As the top appointee at DAFS, the star-gazing, horoscope aficionado Figueroa earned $180,976.02 in total compensation in 2022, per state records.
Her pay isn’t negotiated by the MSEA.
Ditto for the commissioner’s husband, Doug Birgfeld, was able to swing a job in the very agency his wife leads for a cool $136,796.97 in total 2022 comp.
On a related note, UNH polling out today revealed that a majority of Mainers say they are struggling financially and are worse off than they were last year.
According to Figueroa, maybe they just need to spend some more time staring at the stars.
“When we look up at the night sky and really concentrate on seeing what we’re looking at, it is nearly impossible to ignore the vastness and to somehow be calmed by that,” Figueroa said in her email.
“For me, it’s impossible to contemplate Labor Day without making sure to acknowledge and recognize each of you…your efforts, your contributions, and your part in the collective that makes Maine a better place every day,” she said.
“You are the moon and the stars of the state government universe, DAFS, and you are celebrated.”