Trust me, I work for the Government

Wal-Mart and big business want to protect you.

Unionfacts.org…….beyond myth all the way to fantasy requiring medication.
The right wants to “protect” the non-union worker.
The E.F.C.A. takes away the right to a secret ballot.
The EFCA would require “public” Union card signings

The EFCA does not do away with secret ballot elections. It leaves secret ballot elections as an option for employees, but strengthens the penalties for violating the current law, and requires employers to accept the results of a valid majority card check election. If employers suspect illegal coercion of employees, they can challenge a card check election.

Check this link to debunk the “no secret election” bull. http://democrats.senate.gov/journal/entry.cfm?id=277768&

Quote….EFCA..gives workers the additional option of selecting a union representative by majority sign-up.
Under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), there are three ways for workers to form a union: Unquote

1) By secret-ballot: The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will conduct a secret-ballot election to select a bargaining representative if at least 30 percent of workers have signed a petition or authorization cards in favor of a union. If a majority of workers voting select a particular union, the NLRB will certify that union as the employees’ bargaining representative. EFCA does not change this process.

2) By voluntary card-check recognition: An employer can voluntarily decide to recognize a union representative if a majority of employees have signed authorization cards in favor of the union. EFCA does not change this process.

3) By NLRB-ordered recognition: As a last resort, the NLRB can order an employer who has engaged in unfair labor practices that make a fair election unlikely to recognize a labor union if a majority of employees have signed authorization cards in favor of the union. EFCA does not change this process.

Even after a successful Union campaign if 30 percent of workers to sign decertification cards, there is an election.

Another claim is that card check is an new scheme. The Supreme Court upheld card check in 1969 saying “Almost from the inception of the Act, then, it was recognized that a union did not have to be certified as the winner of a Board election to invoke a bargaining obligation; it could establish majority status by other means … by showing convincing support, for instance, by a union-called strike or strike vote, or, as here, by possession of cards signed by a majority of the employees authorizing the union to represent them for collective bargaining purposes.’

While claiming to support employee rights the plan is to deny employees the choice and to force a NLRB secret ballot election, challenge the results and then force employees to wait up to several years in order to allow firing and intimidation. During the wait employees can not negotiate for better wages or working conditions. The trouble making Union supporters can be identified and fired. Employees can’t be forced to join a Union, or accept a strike. The vote is still the law of the land. Employee choice is not only preserved, but enhanced.. There has been no outcry from the right because it only takes thirty percent of employees to sign a decertification petition to force another election. If the majority wants a Union it is BAD. If the minority wants to break up a Union, it is GOOD.

Public signings?

The EFCA would preserve current confidentiality requirements, which require the NLRB to keep authorization cards and the identity of signers confidential to protect workers from employer retaliation.The issue with the right is that teh penalties for breaking the law will now fall on them. They will be subject to penalties strong enough to pay a worker back for illegal harassment or firing..

The right does not want card check because the current system works for them. Most secret ballots do not produce an immediate Union Victory. The employer challenges, and starts endless rounds of threats to close the business, starts mandatory anti-union meetings, there are illegal firing of union supporters with no fear of government intervention . This list of myths only scratches the top of the pile. Legislation intended to return choice and power to the majority is being painted as an attack on the working class.
Don’t forget, these are the same owners and politicians that think that a CEO earning eight hundred times the wages of worker should only pay half the tax rate of the employee.

I don’t want the Republicans to protect me. I don’t feel safe.

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July 31st, 2008 Posted by narsbars | Uncategorized | no comments


UHW……United Healthcare Workers West and SEIU have been having a spat. They don’t agree on the best Union structure for Heathcare workers. This argument resulted in SEIU filing a lawsuit against members of UHW claiming a number of either illegal uses of members money.
Here is the current UHW press release. I don’t know that I can make a judgment call on this one but I think we need to stay up with what is happening with the SEIU because it can affect us and the public perception of our Union.


CONTACT: Sadie Crabtree, 323-365-2083 scrabtree@seiu-uhw.org

Victory for Reformers—Judge Tosses Out SEIU’s

Nuisance Lawsuit Against California Members

U.S. District Court dismisses all claims against members of United Healthcare Workers -West

LOS ANGELESAll charges in a lawsuit by the Washington D.C.-based Service Employees International Union (SEIU), SEIU President Andrew Stern and Secretary-Treasurer Anna Burger against local union members in California were dismissed by U.S. District Court Judge John F. Walter on Tuesday.

The court ruled that SEIU had brought no valid legal claim against members of United Healthcare Workers-West (UHW) and the case was dismissed without the need for a hearing. The ruling entitles UHW members to compensation from SEIU for costs incurred as a result of the illegitimate lawsuit. UHW will seek full compensation on behalf of the ten members named in the suit.

“This was a PR stunt by the DC headquarters of SEIU to try to silence reformers within the union,” said Rosie Byers, a homecare worker for 30 years and member of the UHW Executive Board targeted by the lawsuit.

“The charges made against local union members had no legal basis. The only purpose of this suit was to harass and discredit members of UHW who had spoken out against Andy Stern’s and Anna Burger’s backroom deals with corporations that hurt healthcare workers and our patients.”

The lawsuit was filed one month before SEIU’s quadrennial convention, where delegates from SEIU’s local unions met in June to vote on policies and elected leaders. In the months leading up to the convention, UHW members had publicly advocated for democratic reforms that would have prevented secret “sweetheart deals” by ensuring members would have a say in all agreements with employers. SEIU President Andrew Stern, Secretary-Treasurer Anna Burger and other union officials in Washington, D.C. opposed these changes.

The 150,000-member SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West is the largest, fastest-growing hospital and healthcare union in the western United States and represents every type of healthcare worker, including nurses, professional, technical and service classifications.. Our mission is to achieve high-quality healthcare for all.

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July 28th, 2008 Posted by narsbars | Uncategorized | no comments

Support Your Local T.H.U.G.


Terrorizing Huge Union Groups

Hey, it doesn’t ring out like the man from U.N.C.L.E. but what do you want for your dues?

T.H.U.G.s are not just the bane of Republicans, we are human too and we have our needs. We both want the same thing……..your paycheck.

In the old days of Unions when forty percent of workers were Unionized we Union bosses gained our power through the members’ forced dues money. We had the funds to buy politicians and big cars. Things are different now. Only 12% of employees in the country are Unionized but even so I am proud of how much we are able to accomplish with our reduced T.H.U.G. force.

With the reduced Union density we still deserve respect for keeping 13,000 MSEA members in line. I personally am responsible for frightening over 12000 Mainers. Sometimes I have to gather them in groups of two or three hundred just so I can get all my scaring done at once.

We may be the only a few but no burly game wardens or State security guards can stand up to a really good DeNiro imitation when you say “You talking to me? They just fold and pay their dues.

Times are tough, we may have to lay off some T.H.U.G.s and some of our members may even have to get ……..jobs. The remaining T.H.U.G.s will need to terrorize several thousand Mainers each. Since we can’t make that many personal visits and the cost of gas for the black Cadillac has gone way up, we are moving into the electronic age. When you get a note or and email telling you how to vote signed T.H.U.G .could you simply consider yourself scared? After all we have to pull together in order to get this done.

Our next move is the E.F.C.A. the Employee Free Choice Act we have decided to work with Union Facts and keep alive the idea that there is no secret ballot with the EFCA.

True, the EFCA specifically says that employees may call for a secret ballot. They may decertify the Union, but since we don’t want employees to know that these rights are in the law we have decided not to run our own campaign. Once we have employees in a Union we don’t want them to know that some freedom loving wimp wrote all kinds of protections for freedom into the law.

Please ignore the nasty rumor that some Mainers are able to think for themselves and make up their minds. Just listen to Union Facts and they will tell you how stupid and weak you are. They clearly make the point that you can not think, your kids can not think and show how successful we T.H.U.G.s have been growing Unions from over forty percent all the way to the new high of twelve percent. They will protect you by taking away any of that scary Free Choice stuff and as soon as they make it impossible for you to choose your own Union we will tell you what to do.

While in the past the T.H.U.G.s convention demanded that the legislature pass laws to have the State Police to accompany union organizers in order to collect signatures or petitions we know that this is not needed. UnionFacts says the people of Maine are wimps and one Union organizer is able to sway a whole election single handedly. No game wardens or and snow plow drivers are going to put up a fight. After all what can they do against a trained T.H.U.G.?

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July 24th, 2008 Posted by narsbars | Uncategorized | no comments

Did you Know

Kathryn Latulippe, is a member of Admin. services and candidate for the Contract Negotiations Team. I am proud she is my friend. We face attack ads filled with lies. Those without good jobs blame us and not the greed of their employers. Kathryn makes it clear that we can make a difference and shows how easy it could be. WhetherUnions or for Politics, it’s good advice.


I have been listening for some time to members of MSEA wondering what the union has done for them. I would like to attempt to provide some of that information to you.

First of all, contrary to belief, MSEA is a member organization and can not operate without the members being active.

From the first contract to the upcoming negotiations members have been at the table presenting the wants and needs of fellow members. This is a rewarding and yet at times unappreciated volunteerism that your co-workers do for each of us. Your vacation time, sick time, paid holidays, stipends for dangerous work, mileage reimbursement, longevity pay, personal time and other reimbursement and time issues are in the contract because someone cared enough to negotiate those for you. EDITOR: and because you became involved to bring your needs forward.

Who you ask represents you. Why it is the Steward in the work site. Training is provided them two times a year. They have a large network of other Stewards and Chief Stewards as well as staff to help you.

Members like you and me, go to chapter meetings, check the union website www.mseaseiu.org and keep ourselves informed. We get elected to positions in our chapters and attend our annual convention (council meetings) where we as members set dues and a course for our union to go into. We elect fellow members to sit on the Board where they are responsible for adhering to the councils wishes and to administer the budget that the council approved.

Those who have been providing their volunteer services need your help. We should be standing together with support and understanding. These are bad times and they are not getting any better. We need more volunteers. At a recent meeting to start the bargaining process early an election was postponed in order to try to involve more members. Yes, it was a nice sunny Saturday and there was something else to do. It is becoming harder and harder to find funds for a good contract. Please find some time to help yourself and fellow members and get involved. It is rewarding and you can actually make new friends.

EDITOR: Let me ask a question in a different way. What would get you interested in attending meetings and getting involved? You can’t complain that the Union doesn’t do this or doesn’t do that if you don’t ask. Remember YOU are the Union and if the Union isn’t doing something you want part of the responsibility is yours.

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July 22nd, 2008 Posted by narsbars | Uncategorized | no comments

Killer Plant Life

Not since the first movie about the alien pods has plant life been such a danger to human life on this planet.
There is a new policy in DHHS offices. A policy was issued that placed all living plants on the endangered species list. In DHHS offices there will be no living things with the exception of the public, the employees, and helper animals. You can have flowers, but they must be taken home at the end of the day.

DHHS declared plant life to be the cause of insects, mold, mildew, and just maybe they are out to destroy the American way. After all none of the fern plants I know can even speak English.

Also on the endangered list is respect for employees. There was no discussion over the thousands of well done research papers proving the benefits of plant life in the office. The psychological benefits are unarguable. A living plant can bring a smile during the hardest of winters with the promise of spring, or a small flower in December. Possibly a rabid pit bull Chia Pet savaged someone and it has been hushed up. Maybe a corn plant has been stalking someone. Many plants absorb formaldehyde and numerous poison gasses, yet the plants are banned, but not the materials that produce these poisons. Did anyone mention oxygen? I have a nasty habit of breathing every day and plants help to feed my addiction.

I am certain this came about as the result of a valid complaint. Someone was allergic, or an employee did not maintain a clean work area. Management has a responsibility to deal with these problems and has the authority to make sure those solutions are carried out. There are many methods available to management that could have been used to take care of problems without dropping a nuke.
Rather than than deal with the situation on an individual basis DHHS ignores the benefits to hundreds, even thousands of employees who are working in cube farms under artificial light breathing dead air that is filled with so called acceptable levels of outgassed poisons from our plastic, rugs, and ancient air systems in decrepit buildings.

Was this done to help employees? Obviously not, because if it was to help employees then the harm done to so many would have had to be weighed. Did anyone tell DHHS that we have long winters? That it gets dark early after October? If there are any employees out there that suffer from seasonal affective disorder you may want to consider requesting an accommodation. There are a lot of doctors that would agree with you.

It is not just this policy, but the lack of thought behind it that shows employees how little they are respected by top of management. This policy was put in place due to a lack of leadership and an inability to work with employees. If my neighbor were bothered by my plant I would be happy to get rid of the offending growth and maybe ask if there was another plant that the co-worker liked. State employees respect the public and respect each other and would not willingly cause pain to a co-worker or a member of the public. There was no discussion, no comprimise, just a cold killing policy. The sad thing is that they probably have no idea that there was a rational way to deal with the situation.
P.S. If you have a fish, it goes too, but artificial, outgassing, petroleum wasting, fake plasic plants are just fine.

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July 20th, 2008 Posted by narsbars | Uncategorized | one comment

And now for someone completely different

My office is located in one of the larger care facilities in Maine and like any significant other I sometimes come home and share the day with my wife. Many times she lovingly screams “NO MORE POLITICS!” “NO MORE UNION” and then goes on to remind me that we have a couple of kids. I told her that I take time off from Union affairs and Blogging but it seems to me that the last time I looked whatshername and the guy seemed a lot older and taller than I remembered.
Due to my fascination with computers, my kids have nicknamed me GeekDaddy. Where are we if we can’t laugh at ourselves? So here is my best half’s take on my typical workday.
Her Blog can be found at lillhawkins.com

He’s Not Heavy, He’s My Tomato Plant


I believe I’ve mentioned before that Geekdaddy works at a health institution. He has a very nice, sunny office in the basement where he keeps the phones and computers humming. He also has a small farm of tomato plants, flowers and greenery that he tends with loving care. He’s the go-to guy for Mainers who want a fresh cherry tomato in January and you don’t have to worry about salmonella either. Glasses cleaner, maybe, but no germs.

Geekdaddy subscribes to the theory that if one pair of glasses is good, two or three are better. This is why you sometimes see him with one pair on his nose and another pair pushed up onto his head and a third pair hanging around his neck. I don’t believe I’m letting any cats out of the bag here when I tell you that, sometimes, he even puts one pair over the other pair to read. This is all because of less than successful laser cataract surgery and a tiny little buckle inserted into his eye.

And, no, before you ask, there’s no tiny little belt. Just the buckle. It holds the cornea or lens in place or something like that. I’m a little hazy on the details, but I know that it makes seeing anything farther away than the end of his nose a less than optimal experience. Hence the glasses in triplicate.

So, the other day, there he was in his office, examining his favorite tomato plant and thinking that it looked a little peaked. There was that certain something lacking in the luster of its leaves and its flowers were drooping. The geek decided that what the tomato needed was a change of scene. Maybe, he thought, a walk out through the parking lot onto the lawn would perk it up. He could even leave it there for a while.

True, one of the clients who wander the grounds might become fascinated by it, but odds are that it would be safe. So, off he went with the tomato plant held in front of him – did I mention that it’s a good-sized patio tomato plant? As he walked, he tried to cheer it up by talking to it, something that’s a good idea or so he’d heard on one of his talk radio shows.

He was nattering away to it, describing the scenery they were passing when he realized that he wasn’t alone. One of the psychiatrists who are so useful for other people was walking beside him and peering at him through the tomato plant’s foliage.

Geekdaddy is always cordial, so even though he’d never met the man before, he greeted him with a smile and walked on, out into the parking lot and onto the lawn where he gently settled the tomato plant in the dappled shade of one of the huge maples that dot the grounds. It was about then that he realized that the doctor had almost certainly mistaken him for a client, and then he realized that he was over-endowed with 3 pairs of glasses – one each on his nose, his head and on a cord around his neck.

When he got home, he mentioned the incident to me and asked me if I thought the doctor had gotten the wrong impression. I assured him that the doctor almost certainly hadn’t gotten the wrong impression and I think I eased his mind. What I’d really like to see though, is what happens when he comes in and starts tweaking the doctor’s phone or computer the next time one of them breaks.
I like to think that Lill has just taken a little poetic license. Any good gardening book will tell you that talking to your plants will help them grow. I admit I am still having a little trouble getting the spider plants to wear MSEA T-Shirts.

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July 16th, 2008 Posted by narsbars | Uncategorized | no comments

Admin Bargaining Unit Candidate

I am glad to introduce Kathryn Latulippe, candidate for the Admin bargaining unit negotiations team. During the last contract and for the two years since Kathryn has worked to do her best for your unit and her best for all MSEA employees.. She knows how to work with other units and during long and hard contract talks she never lost sight of the people who sent her to bargain for them. I have worked with Kathryn, and I wholeheartedly endorse her for the team. Her Experience, and her heart are what we all need.

My name is Kathy Latulippe and I am interested in sitting on the Negotiation team for the Administrative Services Bargaining Unit. I have been on the last three contracts and have been on the Contract Committee. I am a 6 year Past President of the Gardiner Chapter, a 6 year (term limited) Board member representing Area II. I am also a Steward. I have sat on many Labor Management teams within current and past departments, as well as a state wide committee. While on the Board I served on many of the MSEA standing committees. I have a diverse experience level that will be an asset to the team. I am looking for your support to devote my time and energy to a contract that will benefit our membership.

I encourage you to sign up for the Bargaining Committee. As a member, becoming involved is a great way to voice your concerns and learn what fellow members are doing on your behalf and to work for changes that you see are needed. It is rewarding work.

Kathryn will never brag or talk about the years working for her members. She knows how to reach across the table to Pro-Tech, OMS, and Supervisory. She will work for you. I am proud to have her as a friend.

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July 15th, 2008 Posted by narsbars | Uncategorized | no comments

What do you want and how much do you want it?

Last week I received a message about the upcoming changes in Employee health care benefits. This set off a quick email discussion and I think it tells its own story better than a detailed point by point. I have of course removed names and email addresses.

Sent To: Tom Maher

Topic:They’re at it. AGAIN!

I received a copy of the Employee Health Commission minutes and they have again changed the benefits. The cuts do not appear to be that severe but ….

Sent from Thomas Maher

Thanks for writing,

The State took the entire surplus the Union had accumulated and then dipped further into the funds needed to simply maintain the status quo to the tune of several millions of dollars more. Previous to the pillaging the Union had arranged to improve dental benefits and lower several co-pays. The legislature felt that no well run program should go unpunished.

If you want to know how some of this happens, stop, look around, and ask yourself how many of the co-workers you see actually did anything to protect their own benefits. There are a few employees that have been very helpful but out of hundreds of emails sent by me encouraging employees to get involved in the next contract I received three answers. One was positive..

If anyone wants any raises, or any changes to the contract coming up they have not asked. There has not been one response to offers posted asking if anyone would like to have an open meeting to ask questions.

It must be nice to be working with a group that is completely satisfied with wages, benefits, and working conditions.

Thank You,

Thomas Maher


Regarding satisfaction, or becoming involved, most of us are on the extremely busy already side of life, and we rely on those we’ve elected to represent us. I for one don’t have the energy or inclination to work on the contract — that sounds like a cop-out, but it is true. I devote enormous energy to my job, and the left over is pretty much devoted to others at a personal level. We do want the same old things as you listed below; that has not changed, and won’t change, no matter how many times you ask. But look back at the older surveys, you’ll find we’ve answered; we’ve provided lots of input.

We’re not completely satisfied, but there are only so many times we can say it before we think our input doesn’t matter anyway in the long run.

The legislature and its designees will do pretty much what they want.

Sent from: Thomas Maher

You are right.

We have real lives and many don’t have the time to devote even if they want to.

But for &*%$ sake! Some of us may know how to use a telephone and some advanced employees may even be capable of sending email.

The legislature depends on apathy. It is a little known fact that when a legislator gets ten or more contacts on a single issue they start to ask questions of the other legislators.

As a steward and possibly as a member of the next contract team I will do everything possible to resolve Pro-Tech issues. Last time your team got Management to the table to testify for us. While our gains were limited, we did make progress. In the past we have gotten OT for employees the State tried to make OT exempt. Some of us can now work a 4 day week. Some of us get Standby for at least part of our time. We can make progress.

The surveys have been answered, I know the issues, but to support the issues I am going to need some backing. If I get a number of emails at my home address I can bring those to the table. Is it worth the time to send an email? I make an absolute promise on one thing.

If you don’t play, you can’t win. No big S on my chest, I can’t do it alone.

Thank You,

Thomas Maher


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July 11th, 2008 Posted by narsbars | Uncategorized | no comments

Vermont State Employees, win or lose?

George Burgoyne found the original article about changes to the Vermont State Employee pensions. I have used some of the facts as a springboard for comments. Would you like some of the same changes? Are they getting a better deal or are they getting hosed? If you are a younger State employee are you concerned that a deal offered to the older employees could affect you?

On July 1, 2008 State Employees felt another hit in their take home pay and both current and future retirees will be seeing a better future.

Retirees will now get a cost-of-living adjustment, with a five percent cap.

Employee’s pension deductions are jumping to 5.1 percent, from 1.75 percent up 3.35 percent. The hit on take home pay is the funding tool that allows a vastly better COLA for VSEA retirees. They will have a chance of staying even rather than falling behind every year.

Maine has a four percent cap.

New hires, not current employees will have to work until 65 in order to retire, up from 62. I can’t wait until our politicians hear this one.

Then there is the so called 87 option. If your age and service add up to 87, you can retire. Hire on at 23 years old, work until you are 55.

Thirty two years service with age 55 equals 87. You too can retire while young enough to enjoy it.

Vermont workers will only get 80% of percent coverage of health care costs in retirement and will have to work ten years just to get to 40%.

These changes can be made now due to two things. VSEA workers are allowed to negotiate many of the items around both health care and around their pensions. Their legislators are willing to talk with them.

The second reason is the graying of the work force. The cost of living adjustment was a huge incentive. The previous COLA was limited to one half of the cost of living. The true impact is dependent on which cost of living measurement is used, the Bush scale which leaves out home heating and many other necessities or the true cost of living. Thank you to Steve Butterfield of MSEASEIU who taught me the difference. The same word, COLA can mean very different things when it comes to how well you may be able to live when retired.

While many employees will see a large part of the raises gained in the current contract eaten up by increases in health care and pension costs the plan was very appealing to the huge proportion of the workforce soon eligible for retirement. They can see the direct benefit to their future pensions.

Good or bad at least Vermont State Employees were part of the process as they are allowed to negotiate over many of the terms of their employment that Maine legislators so jealously guard as too complicated or too important to let employees have any say.

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July 10th, 2008 Posted by narsbars | MSEA, MSEA contract, Maine State Employees | no comments

East and up to the moon

Please Click for the Full size image.
I have to offer an apology to the artist, Duncan Bond. This picture is only at 1/10 of the original resolution. I had to downsize it so it would load on something slower than a NASA connection.

This Blog is about Maine issues, and I have been asked why I put in the effort. What makes it all worthwhile? My answer is knowing that Maine is beautiful, the people are unique and in many places we still don’t remember where our door keys are. This is why we live here.
This photo is copyrighted by Duncan Bond, one of the most skilled IT technicians anywhere. His schedule is fifty five to sixty hours a week, nights and weekends with no overtime pay. He does his job and doesn’t complain. How he finds the time to see the beauty and bring it to us, I don’t know. I do know that places like this and people like Duncan are why is why I live here.
Thanks, Duncan.
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July 9th, 2008 Posted by narsbars | Duncan Bond, Maine State Employees | no comments