The workers responsible for maintaining Auburn’s roads, parks and infrastructure demonstrated before City Hall on May 15th. Following a breakdown in contract negotiations, the workers protested their substandard wages, which are drastically lower than public works wages in Maine towns of similar size. For example, starting pay for a skilled Mechanic/Welder in Auburn is only 73% of what a mechanic earns working for the City of Saco. Auburn’s highest classification (Mechanic) earns less than the lowest classification (Laborer) in Saco.
Entry-level wages in Auburn are so low that the City has difficulty hiring new workers. As current employees retire, the Public Services Department may find itself unable to hire workers to replace them.
Despite this, the City has refused to bring wages in line with market. Neither are the City’s benefits sufficient to lure capable CDL drivers away from the private sector. Teamsters Union negotiators have proposed a new health insurance provider—Allegiant Care—which offers superior coverage at a slightly higher cost (a 1.6% increase to the Public Services budget). The City has refused this proposal as well.
Auburn’s Public Services employees now have no choice but to make their case before their neighbors.