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Maine gov to send layoff notices to 58 employees

December 16, 2013

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Gov. Paul LePage’s office will send layoff notices to 58 state employees in case of another federal government shutdown, the Republican governor said Monday.

The potential layoffs would affect federally funded positions or workers who could be displaced by more senior employees. While a shutdown is unlikely, the union contract requires his office to “adhere to a rigid timeline” for notifying employees about layoffs, LePage said.

“It does not allow for late notice of layoff, even in circumstances like these, where there is a strong possibility that the notice will not be needed,” he said in a statement.

The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives passed a bipartisan congressional budget agreement last week. The Democratic-led Senate is poised to send the measure to President Barack Obama this week.

The Maine State Employees Association criticized the announcement of the notices, saying they’ll unnecessarily upset Maine state workers.

“Under our union contracts, Gov. LePage is required to give State of Maine workers at least 10 work days-notice if he is going to lay them off, so there’s no need whatsoever for him to have done anything yet. Our union negotiating teams for years have protected this important contractual right,” MSEA President Ginette Rivard said in a statement.

The union and LePage clashed during the last federal government shutdown in October during which LePage declared a civil emergency, which he said allowed him to suspend rules and laws to ensure laid-off employees get unemployment benefits as quickly as possible. The union called that move unnecessary and questioned what impact it would have on its collective bargaining agreement.

LePage said that despite the layoff notices, his office remains hopeful that Congress will reach an agreement in the coming days.

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