Workers and management at the Maine Military Authority in Limestone received layoff notices Thursday amid a pause in the organization’s major transit bus contract, according to the Maine State Employees Association.
Employees received notice of the layoff 10 days in advance, said Rod Hiltz, executive director of the Maine State Employees Association, a union that represents 55 Maine Military Authority workers along with other state employees.
Gov. Paul LePage announced last month that his administration would “halt” the Maine Military Authority’s $19 million contract with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority to renovate 32 buses, rather than put Maine taxpayers at risk of having to cover cost-overruns.
Brig. Gen. Douglas Farnham, who oversees the Maine Military Authority as Maine’s top military official, and others in the LePage administration are meeting with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority leaders next week.
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At a press conference last week near Maine Military Authority’s factory at the former Loring Air Force Base, Farnham said the Maine Military Authority is looking to renegotiate the contract to account for some unexpected difficulties in sourcing and making parts for the articulated buses that are hinged to allow for tight turns and easier maneuverability.
The Maine Military Authority has finished refurbishing 11 of the 32 buses, and Farnham said that work on the transit vehicles would continue, but new purchases on parts and supplies would be frozen until cost issues are resolved.
Layoffs and recalls have occurred before at the Maine Military Authority, which once employed 500 workers in its original business of humvee renovation, and the workers could be called back after a contract is renegotiated, Hiltz said.
“They’re hopeful that something happens next week, and they’ll keep working and won’t get laid off at all,” Hiltz said.