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Purpose and Responsibility
The Office of Employee Relations is by law the Governor's designee to carry out the employer functions of the State under the State Employees Labor Relations Act ("SELRA"). Accordingly, the Office is responsible for all matters concerning the collective bargaining process and for the development and implementation of employee relations policies for all departments and agencies within the Executive Branch of State Government.
Specifically, the Office has the following responsibilities:
- to develop and execute employee relations' policies, objectives and strategies in a manner which is consistent with the Governor's overall objectives;
- to conduct negotiations with designated employee bargaining agents;
- to administer and interpret collective bargaining agreements for the benefit of all State departments and agencies;
- to represent the State in all legal proceedings which emanate from collective bargaining process such as bargaining unit determination, elections and prohibited practice complaints;
- to coordinate the compilation of all data necessary to the collective bargaining process and implementation thereof;
- to coordinate the State's approach to all instances of negotiating, mediation, fact-finding, arbitration and other legal proceedings; and
- to provide necessary technical advice and training to State agencies for implementation and administration of collective bargaining agreements.
The Office has three primary responsibilities, each of which has several secondary functions.
Collective Bargaining: Develops employee relations policies, objectives, and strategies; represents the State in negotiations for successor collective bargaining agreements; represents the State in contract mediation, fact-finding, and interest arbitration where necessary to reach agreements; negotiates any special agreements mandated by the Legislature; conducts impact or other mid-contract negotiations required by law or contract; represents the State in compensation system negotiations with a union coalition; and coordinates State resources and the compilation of data and information to accomplish all of the above;
Administration of Collective Bargaining Agreements: Provides advice, interpretation, and counsel to departments and agencies as appropriate to ensure consistent policies and practices and contract compliance; acts as hearings officer in grievance proceedings; represents the State in grievance mediation and settlement negotiations; investigates, prepares for and provides legal representation for the State in grievance arbitration and subsequent court appeals; and represents the State on Labor/Management committees.
Other Legal Representation: Represents the State in all bargaining unit determination, unit clarification, prohibited practice, or other proceeding before the Maine Labor Relations Board and in court; represents the State in court cases arising out of employee relations and collective bargaining activities; provides legal advice and counsel to departments and agencies to ensure compliance with SELRA, Civil Service Laws, and other applicable employment and protective labor laws; introduces legislation necessary to implement collective bargaining agreements; and proposes or responds to legislation affecting the State as an employer.