The U.S. dollar has lost more than one-fifth of its purchasing power since 2019, according to an email sent Monday to Maine state employees concerning ongoing collective bargaining over contract negotiations.
“Since 2019, these state employees have seen a 20.5% increase in wages; inflation through that same time frame has been 22.0%,” said Kirsten Figueroa, Commissioner for the Department of Administrative and Financial Services.
Figueroa told state employees that the Mills Administration’s goal is to “increase wages to the greatest extent possible within our budgetary constraints, as established by the Legislature, to ensure that you are appropriately compensated and to remain competitive with the private sector.”
The Mills Administration has been locked in bitter negotiations all year with the Maine Service Employees Association (MSEA), the union that represents nearly 10,000 employees in the State’s executive branch.
Although the MSEA endorsed Mills and its members campaigned for her, the union has not been able to get an acceptable contract from the Mills Administration — even despite Maine having just passed its largest ever spending bill.
Negotiations are going so poorly for the MSEA that some members have even floated the idea of using illegal tactics, like work stoppages.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ CPI Inflation Calculator, a state employee making $50,000 per year in January of 2019 would need to earn $61,139 in Nov. 2023 in order to have the same purchasing power.