UnionMaine

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Will the Employee Free Choice Act be "fair"?

Thanks for the cartoon to Mike Konopacki. Please check out his work at this site.

First, we have to define a fair election.

Does the current process guarantee a fair election, and if I decide to vote for a Union in the privace of my own home should I be denied the right?

In any other free election in this country all sides are allowed access to the voter rolls so they can reach out with their message. The NLRB gives “free and fair” the same meaning as Fox news gives to “Fair and Balanced” Employers are supposed to provide employee lists to Union organizers but over and over delaying tactics are used that prevent a Union from reaching the employees with their side of the story While the process goes on, the Em[ployer plasters the work place with anti-Union messages and forces employees to attend one sided anti-Union meetings.

Under current labor law an election will be held when workers petition for union representation with at least 30 percent support. After receiving a petition the NLRB will set a date for a secret ballot vote. Almost sounds like Democracy.

This is where the deck is stacked. No political campaign for animal control officer would be allowed if it were as one sided as the NLRB rules.

In an NLRB election there is no true free speech; no equal access to the voters, no equal ability to reach the voters with materials or information.

Candidates for dog catcher are guaranteed access to the voter rolls, but in an NLRB election management can delay giving out that information until the election is almost over and the penalties for delaying are nearly non-existent.

On average, unions don’t get the voter list until less than 20 days before an election. Suppose the Democrats or the Republicans tried to pass a law that said that the other side could not have access to the voter lists until three weeks before an election. Is that anyone’s idea of a “free and fair” election?”

I look around at Americans and at my fellow Mainers. I don’t see a bunch of wimps that will vote “Union Yes” just because one of their co-workers comes over to talk to them. Try to force your neighbor to do what you want in Maine you will get kicked so hard your butt will still be sore when you roll over the Massachusetts border.

The anti-Union forces know that given a free choice most people have nothing against better pay and benefits.

Hit em in the wallet. Threaten their kids.

In political elections it is illegal for corporations to tell employees that if the Republicans or the Democrats win their company will close.

In a “fairly run” NLRB election these tactics are completely legal, while at the same time the employer can deny access to the employees by the Union organizers.

In the U.S. we know how to have a fair election.

Election law demands that newspapers, magazines, radio and TV stations sell ad time on the same terms to all candidates and provide equal access.

The NLRB does nothing to allow employees to hear both sides. Management can cover every hall bathroom stall, and cube with anti-Union propaganda and ban pro-union employees from the same actions (we don’t need no stinking free speech). The employer is free to campaign against Unions in any way, all day, in the workplace. Pro Union workers are banned from talking about unionization except on break times.

Don’t blame the employer for legal actions.

In America and we have a fierce tradition of competition and Pro-Union employees and anti-Union management can not be faulted for using every legal tactic at their command.

The lack of enforcement or penalties for illegal action by the employer has fostered a level of illegal activity on the side of management that would make a third world dictator proud.

The EFCA demands that over 50% of employees must vote to join a Union for the vote to be honored and a Union recognized.

The EFCA would force an arbitration process if a contract can not be reached within a reasonable time because 32% of employees don’t have a signed collective bargaining agreement one year after voting for union representation. Denying a contract is another method of trying to destroy Unions and the laws in place are useless and rarely used.

22,633 employees fired as part of the free and fair discussion.

The 1993-2003 NLRB Annual Reports, show an average of 22,633 workers per year were ordered to receive back pay from their employers. No retroactive benefits, no other financial penalties for possibly destroying an employee causing the loss of a home savings and family.

91% of employers force employees to attend anti-union meetings with their supervisors during union organizing drives.

There is nothing illegal about an employer holding meetings with employees about matters that could affect working conditions. The employer is paying for their time, at meetings, or at their desk.

Does the current law protect employees from coercion or threats? Check the statistic above. 22,633 workers fired each year for Pro Union activity.

Up to 51% of employers illegally coerce workers into opposing unions with cash promotions or favors during union organizing drives.

There are no serious penalties for employers engaging in these illegal actions. The penalties are so small they are just considered a cost of doing (crooked) business.

30% of employers illegally fired pro-union workers during union organizing drives.

The response by the right is that this means that yes, charges were filed and back pay was received, but since they didn’t admit to anything it doesn’t mean anything. How many employees needed to jump at the back pay for mortgage payments, or medical bills? How many had gotten desperate enough to settle? Desperation is the goal of the employer and there are no penalties or to discourage it. The employee on the other hand will get back pay only. No financial payback for lost benefits or even a lost home.

How much can the NLRB hurt an employer for bribing threatening assaulting or firing a pro-Union employee?

Not one penny, nada, zilch, nothing, the employer is holding up one finger, but it does not mean one dollar.

National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 151 et seq. The NLRB does not have the authority to impose fines, revoke licenses, or impose prison time on those who violate the National Labor Relations Act.

If serious financial penalties for employers were in place with criminal penalties in place for management that violated even the puny laws in place now there might be an argument to leave things alone. The E.F.C.A. is the simplest change that can be made to level the playing field. What we have now is neither Fair or Balanced.

For other references to prove the facts above see:

http://www.americanrightsatwork.org/publications/general/undermining-the-right-to-organize-employer-behavior-during-union-representation-campaigns.html

By Chirag Mehta and Nik Theodore, Center for Urban Economic Development, UniversityIllinois at Chicago

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June 30th, 2008 Posted by narsbars | Uncategorized | 3 comments

Why should we try to help Non Union Workers?

This was inspired by a link sent to me by Jack McKay of the Central Labor Council. The original post was about New York but I have been asked many times why the MSEA should organize outside of State Government and even help outside of Maine.


There are a few employees with relatively good jobs belonging to Unions and a lot more with jobs that don’t pay enough and carry few if any benefits.


If Union workers want to help themselves they should think about helping others The same tune that Andy Stern of the SEIU has been putting out for years (Editor) I like to say “We need to turn them into us”


The few good Union jobs compared to the poor non-union jobs is a common condition in New York, Michigan, and Maine. We have to try through education, organizing and political action to raise the wages of dishwashers, wait staff, Wal-Mart workers and all of the other poorly paid employees.


We have worked to get to a comparatively good level of wages and benefits with time off and pensions.


The trouble with these gains is that they make us targets for blame from the right They are trying to avoid the blame for greed and failed policies. It is not even so much the arguement between Republicans and Democrats but the argument between the political influence of millionaires and billionaires against the Wal-Mart cashier and the McDonald’s burger flipper.


I remember being a truck driver in the 70’s in a small shop. I called the Teamsters and was told to take a hike. They only wanted big wins.


Even now, union movements are seen as less interested in organizing and helping low wage employees, but the SEIU sees a different path. In Maine we have already made the first steps and organized thousands of new members.


Now we have to take the next steps and work and spend our dues monies not only to gain good contracts for us, but to help those new members gain a living wage and benefits. MSEA-SEIU Local 771 got it’s name from it’s hourly wage, and is still fighting for the right to buy healthcare as a group.


Most of our new members get no paid vacation or sick days. The wing press is running TV and print ads asking why State workers get benefits the public doesn’t get and will never see without our help.


I have friends that won’t see two paid weeks off until five years of employment and must use vacation days as sick days.


The ads recently run on WLBZ and other channels are slanted to make it seem that Union benefits and wages are coming at the expense of the poorly paid employee.

The under tone of the ads is to make the public say “Why should you have sick days when I don’t have any?”

Unasked is “Why shouldn’t every employee have the right to earn sick time and a pension?” Before the long destruction of Unions started by Saint Ronnie the public had more chances for good jobs and a pension was still thought of as part of a job.

After several administrations have used the National Labor Relations Board as a tool to destroy Unions and workers rights the few that have kept some of their gains have become the focus of right to work campaign. We set an example of good jobs that they don’t want to be compared to.


The SEIU sees this problem and is working to help the low-wage nonunion workers to organize and to help pass new labor law to improve the conditions for all employees. We are fighting misdirection. The Union Busters are saying that the Unions are doing well at the expense of everyone else and that the cure is to take away the Union wages and benefits. In Maine they spread lies about benefits we don’t have and wages we don’t earn.

The real cure is to help more workers gain security and respect for the work they do.

The solution is for us to work to get those benefits to all employees. A well paid employee will work harder, spend and make the economy stronger. A well paid employee can educate their children and the country benefits. A well paid employee will not vote to take your benefits away out of anger and frustration at an uncaring employer.

It is the right thing to help other employees get ahead, but it is also the necessary thing to do to protect ourselves. When we are bargaining contracts there is always the claim that “We can’t give you what the public doesn’t have” They tell us every contract that to keep some of what we have we have we will have to give up a little more every time.


For years now our wages have fallen behind inflation every year We are actually making less than fifteen years ago. Benefits and wages have been cut successively for nearly sixteen years. These are facts that are not made public. Did you know that most of the public thinks State employees get an automatic cost of living raise every year on top of any negotiated raises? They think we get free life insurance and pay nothing for family medical care. Many think we pay nothing for prescriptions.


After the first successful attack on State Employee health care whetted the appetite of the legislature they came back again, taking thirty million dollars and causing probable higher deductibles and decreased benefits. Does anyone think the legislature will say “enough?”


Don’t look behind the curtain at the top 1% of the country owning nearly 40% of all the wealth in the country It is a lot easier to blame a Union worker than a faceless CEO. It won’t be as easy to blame a Union worker if that brother or sister has helped someone to get enough money to feed their family or to get health care to care for their children. Let’s work to turn “them” into us.

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June 27th, 2008 Posted by narsbars | Uncategorized | no comments

The Employee Free Choice Act


The right says we are trying to do away with the right to a secret ballot. The truth is that labor wants the right to have a ballot free from illegal influence and threats.

I want to extend a thank you to Mike Konopacki for permission to use his work. He is a true friend of labor.
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June 26th, 2008 Posted by narsbars | Uncategorized | 3 comments

Rod Hiltz, New Chief Negotiator


Click to enlarge this post, unless you have very, very, good eyes.
I will be taking down all surveys and bargaining proposals on this site with the idea that from now on these ideas should only be discussed by Union Members and for Union members. The State can spend the next few months working on their own ideas, not reading ours.
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June 25th, 2008 Posted by narsbars | Uncategorized | no comments

I’m from the I.R.S. and I am here to help you, No really.


When the IRS raises the deductible for

mileage, you know things are bad.

I.R.S. says gas is getting expensive.

The Internal Revenue Service raises the mileage rate that can be claimed on your (business) taxes.

The I.R.S. is changing the rate used to calculate deductible operating costs for business vehicles from 50.5 cents a mile to 58.5 cents immediately and for the last six months of 2008.

“Rising gas prices are having a major impact on individual Americans,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. (Ya think?) “Given the increase in prices, the IRS is adjusting the standard mileage rates to better reflect the real cost of operating an automobile.”

This is an indicator of the urgency of the action as the IRS usually updates the mileage rates only in the fall for the next calendar year.

Last week Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minnesota sent a letter to Shulman urging him to increase the rate. Don’t give the R too much credit, remember, this will affect businesses not employees.

State Employees have been forced to drive their own vehicles for far less than the cost of maintenance and fuel for far too long. This has been ofter topped off with delayed expense reimbursement due to agencies that pay employees last. In 2007 a number of employees went six or more weeks without reimbursement while driving hundreds of miles a week.

P.S. The State of Maine is still at forty cents, which is ONLY 18.5 cents below what even the I.R.S. thinks is minimally needed to run a vehicle.

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June 23rd, 2008 Posted by Tom Maher | Uncategorized | no comments

I’m from the I.R.S. and I am here to help you, No really.


When the IRS raises the deductible for

mileage, you know things are bad.

I.R.S. says gas is getting expensive.

The Internal Revenue Service raises the mileage rate that can be claimed on your (business) taxes.

The I.R.S. is changing the rate used to calculate deductible operating costs for business vehicles from 50.5 cents a mile to 58.5 cents immediately and for the last six months of 2008.

“Rising gas prices are having a major impact on individual Americans,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. (Ya think?) “Given the increase in prices, the IRS is adjusting the standard mileage rates to better reflect the real cost of operating an automobile.”

This is an indicator of the urgency of the action as the IRS usually updates the mileage rates only in the fall for the next calendar year.

Last week Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minnesota sent a letter to Shulman urging him to increase the rate. Don’t give the R too much credit, remember, this will affect businesses not employees.

State Employees have been forced to drive their own vehicles for far less than the cost of maintenance and fuel for far too long. This has been ofter topped off with delayed expense reimbursement due to agencies that pay employees last. In 2007 a number of employees went six or more weeks without reimbursement while driving hundreds of miles a week.

P.S. The State of Maine is still at forty cents, which is ONLY 18.5 cents below what even the I.R.S. thinks is minimally needed to run a vehicle.

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June 23rd, 2008 Posted by narsbars | Uncategorized | no comments

I’m from the I.R.S. and I am here to help you, No really.


When the IRS raises the deductible for

mileage, you know things are bad.

I.R.S. says gas is getting expensive.

The Internal Revenue Service raises the mileage rate that can be claimed on your (business) taxes.

The I.R.S. is changing the rate used to calculate deductible operating costs for business vehicles from 50.5 cents a mile to 58.5 cents immediately and for the last six months of 2008.

“Rising gas prices are having a major impact on individual Americans,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. (Ya think?) “Given the increase in prices, the IRS is adjusting the standard mileage rates to better reflect the real cost of operating an automobile.”

This is an indicator of the urgency of the action as the IRS usually updates the mileage rates only in the fall for the next calendar year.

Last week Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minnesota sent a letter to Shulman urging him to increase the rate. Don’t give the R too much credit, remember, this will affect businesses not employees.

State Employees have been forced to drive their own vehicles for far less than the cost of maintenance and fuel for far too long. This has been ofter topped off with delayed expense reimbursement due to agencies that pay employees last. In 2007 a number of employees went six or more weeks without reimbursement while driving hundreds of miles a week.

P.S. The State of Maine is still at forty cents, which is ONLY 18.5 cents below what even the I.R.S. thinks is minimally needed to run a vehicle.

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June 23rd, 2008 Posted by narsbars | Uncategorized | no comments

I’m from the I.R.S. and I am here to help you, No really.


When the IRS raises the deductible for

mileage, you know things are bad.

I.R.S. says gas is getting expensive.

The Internal Revenue Service raises the mileage rate that can be claimed on your (business) taxes.

The I.R.S. is changing the rate used to calculate deductible operating costs for business vehicles from 50.5 cents a mile to 58.5 cents immediately and for the last six months of 2008.

“Rising gas prices are having a major impact on individual Americans,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. (Ya think?) “Given the increase in prices, the IRS is adjusting the standard mileage rates to better reflect the real cost of operating an automobile.”

This is an indicator of the urgency of the action as the IRS usually updates the mileage rates only in the fall for the next calendar year.

Last week Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minnesota sent a letter to Shulman urging him to increase the rate. Don’t give the R too much credit, remember, this will affect businesses not employees.

State Employees have been forced to drive their own vehicles for far less than the cost of maintenance and fuel for far too long. This has been ofter topped off with delayed expense reimbursement due to agencies that pay employees last. In 2007 a number of employees went six or more weeks without reimbursement while driving hundreds of miles a week.

P.S. The State of Maine is still at forty cents, which is ONLY 18.5 cents below what even the I.R.S. thinks is minimally needed to run a vehicle.

Enter your Email

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June 23rd, 2008 Posted by narsbars | Uncategorized | no comments

I’m from the I.R.S. and I am here to help you, No really.


When the IRS raises the deductible for

mileage, you know things are bad.

I.R.S. says gas is getting expensive.

The Internal Revenue Service raises the mileage rate that can be claimed on your (business) taxes.

The I.R.S. is changing the rate used to calculate deductible operating costs for business vehicles from 50.5 cents a mile to 58.5 cents immediately and for the last six months of 2008.

“Rising gas prices are having a major impact on individual Americans,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. (Ya think?) “Given the increase in prices, the IRS is adjusting the standard mileage rates to better reflect the real cost of operating an automobile.”

This is an indicator of the urgency of the action as the IRS usually updates the mileage rates only in the fall for the next calendar year.

Last week Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minnesota sent a letter to Shulman urging him to increase the rate. Don’t give the R too much credit, remember, this will affect businesses not employees.

State Employees have been forced to drive their own vehicles for far less than the cost of maintenance and fuel for far too long. This has been ofter topped off with delayed expense reimbursement due to agencies that pay employees last. In 2007 a number of employees went six or more weeks without reimbursement while driving hundreds of miles a week.

P.S. The State of Maine is still at forty cents, which is ONLY 18.5 cents below what even the I.R.S. thinks is minimally needed to run a vehicle.

Enter your Email

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June 23rd, 2008 Posted by narsbars | Uncategorized | no comments

I’m from the I.R.S. and I am here to help you, No really.


When the IRS raises the deductible for

mileage, you know things are bad.

I.R.S. says gas is getting expensive.

The Internal Revenue Service raises the mileage rate that can be claimed on your (business) taxes.

The I.R.S. is changing the rate used to calculate deductible operating costs for business vehicles from 50.5 cents a mile to 58.5 cents immediately and for the last six months of 2008.

“Rising gas prices are having a major impact on individual Americans,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. (Ya think?) “Given the increase in prices, the IRS is adjusting the standard mileage rates to better reflect the real cost of operating an automobile.”

This is an indicator of the urgency of the action as the IRS usually updates the mileage rates only in the fall for the next calendar year.

Last week Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minnesota sent a letter to Shulman urging him to increase the rate. Don’t give the R too much credit, remember, this will affect businesses not employees.

State Employees have been forced to drive their own vehicles for far less than the cost of maintenance and fuel for far too long. This has been ofter topped off with delayed expense reimbursement due to agencies that pay employees last. In 2007 a number of employees went six or more weeks without reimbursement while driving hundreds of miles a week.

P.S. The State of Maine is still at forty cents, which is ONLY 18.5 cents below what even the I.R.S. thinks is minimally needed to run a vehicle.

Enter your Email

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June 23rd, 2008 Posted by narsbars | Uncategorized | no comments