C.J. Betit, director of collective bargaining at the Maine Education Association, said the organization is taking a wait-and-see approach as details about implementation are determined in Washington.

“We haven’t figured out what the impact is yet,” he said. “That’s the big thing. We’re not quite sure because the rule-making hasn’t come out yet.”

Betit said that definitions of “full-time” and “affordability” could shift, depending on how the government decides to enforce the law.

Employers and unions may not know how to handle a federal mandate on health insurance, a piece of the employee package that is traditionally negotiated.

“From a collective bargaining perspective, it creates different dynamics,” Betit said.

The net effect is likely to be mixed.

“From a worker’s perspective, that’s a benefit they don’t have now,” Betit said. “That’s a good thing from the worker’s level.”

However, Betit cautioned that the benefit comes with a potential cost of reduced flexibility in negotiations.

“The reality of it is we’re going to be balancing the cost of that and that’s going to come out of the bargaining table,” he said.

The law also protects full-time workers who have not been organized into collective bargaining units. Betit said that the issue will raise questions and challenges, particularly in small districts with tight budgets.

 

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