Trust me, I work for the Government

January 2010 They will be back

Maine State Employees are already facing cuts of as much as fifteen percent over the next two years.

The legislature says the cuts will expire on June 30, 2011. I don’t believe them and I don’t know anyone who does.

So far not a penny of the wasteful contracting in the State has been cut. Jobs that can be done by State Employees go to private firms at up to twice the cost because the politicians “can’t increase head count”.

Tens of thousands of square feet of empty State owned buildings will be either heated for no reason or torn down to ensure that landlords can keep getting rich.
California has led the way for years
The future of Maine is shown by the present in California. Well before the State of Maine started talking about shut down days and take backs California was already demanding furloughs and pay freezes.
Now Arnold is coming back for an additional 5% pay cut for all State employees and massive cuts to services for the poorest that will in turn cause thousands of layoffs for State Employees.

That is bad for CA., and we can expect the same or worse in Maine in January 2010 unless we find the waste and stop it now.

The Maine legislature is already talking about how to gut the pension system and you know it won’t be only for new employees. Thanks for thirty years…….Get out!

The good is that California State Employees know how to fight back and how to work with the State at the same time. They have been fighting the outsourcing of State jobs to more expensive contractors. They have just won their first major victory.

State Personnel Board backs Local 1000 on outsourcing

Ruling ousts contractor; state workers to take over security at SF Civic Center

Backing a challenge by Local 1000, the State Personnel Board (SPB) has disapproved an expensive outsourcing contract for private security guards – costing up to $10 million – at the San Francisco Civic Center.

The ruling forces the Department of General Services (In Maine the Bureau of General Services) to bring these security jobs into state civil service, where state workers will take on those duties.

The SPB executive officer backed Local 1000, finding that the state failed to prove a legal justification for using private security guards – rather that state workers.

Two months, later the full SPB board sided with Local 1000. The SPB’s board’s order gives the DGS 120 days to fill the positions with state employees. Over the past three years Local 1000 attorneys have challenged more than 120 contracts, winning more than 80 percent of the cases.

Is this the time for us to start spending our MSEA dues to challenge the State? This is the kind of campaign that the public would support.

The Civic Center Plaza ruling may boost a larger security service contract challenge that is expected to be heard by the SPB this summer. If Local 1000 wins that case, state workers could be filling about 900 security guard positions all over California that are now be held by higher-paid contractors.

Local 1000 research and independent studies have shown that outside contractors cost twice as much as state employees who already do the same work.

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May 31st, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Maine State Employees, SEIU 1989, government waste, outsourcing | no comments

An apology to subscribers or Blog Bug Bites Blogger

This Blog has been neglected. I have been putting all of my efforts into Http://WWW.UnionMaine.BlogSpot.Com

Several Blog Bugs crept in and mail was not sent, posts not posted, and more.

Starting later this week I will be moving all of the new posting over to this location. Over 95% of all subscribers to this blog have not been getting update messages and several posts have not gone up at the time I intended. It looks like I am going to have to get to work. I will be adding a number of new features to this blog in the next few weeks.

As soon as this location is up and running I will let you know and if you are subscribed at the other location y0u will be able to unsubscribe and follow new posts here.

I will be adding a twitter link and several other features. Please bear with me and if you have any suggestions please post them here.

May 31st, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Uncategorized | no comments

State Bargaining Update

The State Bargaining team needs to get out one message. Please pass it on.
There have been NO concessions at the table. Anything that has been done has been done by the legislature, no talks, no terms, no respect.

The executive Branch team members are returning to bargain on Thursday and Friday. We will not roll over, we have not been given any respect and it seems as if the State thinks it is all over since the budget has passed.

It is not all about money. There is a lot to talk about and we are going to keep up the conversation.

P.S. About the K.J. story about 150 State Employees at the capitol. They must have sent a one handed three fingered capuchin monkey to do the count. There were over three hundred of your members there. You could not hear anything but the chant of “We will remember in November!”

Many of the legislators simply sneaked out by back stairs, the rest hung their heads in shame except for a few gloating members of the Gopasaur party.

Stay tuned, they are coming back, not in two years, but in January.

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May 27th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Uncategorized | no comments


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May 22nd, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Uncategorized | one comment

NUHW fight with SEIU still going strong

Cross Posted from the NUHW web site. The NUHW is the new Union breaking away from the SEIU in California.
The NUHW feels that SEIU has denied Union representation to the members and given up on good contracts in favor of growing the Union at all costs.

SEIU says that all health care professionals would be better served by being in one Union. So far in nearly every election NUHW has won overwhelming support of the employees even if the National Labor Relations Board has ruled against the new Union in most cases, stating that a new Union must wait until near the end of any existing contract.

Healthcare workers join NUHW in first election

Caregivers at Doctors Medical Center overwhelmingly reject SEIU in first election since almost 100,000 petitioned to join the National Union of Healthcare workers

San Pablo, Calif.—In an overwhelming victory for California healthcare workers’ movement to take back their union, nearly 300 caregivers at Doctors Medical Center won an election to join the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) and reject the SEIU. Workers mailed secret ballots to California’s Public Employment Relations Board, which certified today that more than 83 percent chose NUHW. The count was 158 for NUHW, 24 for SEIU, and 7 for No Union.

“We’re so excited to be in control of our own union again,” said Duka Ristic, an ultrasonographer at the hospital for eight years. “NUHW is led by the local healthcare workers and leaders we know and trust, who helped us raise standards for our patients and keep our community’s hospital open.”

After national SEIU officials staged a hostile takeover of California’s healthcare union in January, nearly 100,000 caregivers petitioned to quit the scandal-plagued SEIU and form their own independent union.

SEIU officials responded by filing hundreds of frivolous charges with state and federal labor boards to delay elections at more than 360 facilities. So-called “blocking charges” are a tactic commonly used by employers and union-busting consultants to stall elections by taking advantage of the weakness of federal labor law. SEIU officials used the delay to wage a months-long campaign to harass and intimidate union activists.

While the National Labor Relations Board has so far failed to protect workers’ right to vote in fair and timely elections, California’s Public Employment Relations Board has begun scheduling elections for public service healthcare workers. Next month, workers at Hazel Hawkins Hospital in Hollister as well as Fresno County homecare workers will have their chance to vote.

“SEIU’s attacks have only made us stronger and more committed than ever to joining a union that is on our side,” Ristic said. “Our union, NUHW, is a democratic union by and for healthcare workers. This a great day for us.”

Does this have anything to do with Maine? You be the judge.

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May 21st, 2009 Posted by narsbars | nuhw, seiu fight | no comments


I have nothing on my own tonight. I received a comment from another blogger, one with some real talent thanking me for saying something nice.
So in total ingratitude I am going to use another snippet from one of his posts to leave you hanging with no where to go but follow the link.

Thag for President

William K. Wolfrum Chronicles

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May 20th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | MSEA-SEIU, SEIU, Uncategorized | no comments

Thank Your Legislator.

And for 19 more days for the next two years.

Thanks Ron, Maybe these signs should be put up on every shut down day.

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May 19th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Uncategorized | no comments

State Employees Fund Budget Again

Ten shut down days each year, around holidays, a two year freeze on merit raises and longevity, and a hit on health care (go to MSEA site for details after 11:30 pm) Tuesday night.

Tthere will be three levels of cuts initially. Bad, worse and even worse, with the possibility of moving the wellness portion up to the middle of 2010, maybe earlier.

Good No 5% pay cut.

Good Maybe someone will notice what we do when they can’t register a car or process paperwork.

Summary: They took between five and ten point 4 million additional dollars out of our hides.

Tim Belcher and Colonel Poulin both spoke up for their members but the venom dripping from the committee burned holes in my earphones from 90 miles away.

Like bullies anywhere they showed resentment that we tried to defend ourselves and that we tried to be part of the process.

Best Quotes: “They didn’t want to lose 5% and this is what they got.”

Rep: Flood: “I thought the 5% was fair, but I will vote for this anyway.”

Rep Martin: “This is better than anything I have seen so far!”

Almost to a man and a woman they showed disgust for State Employees who asked to be represented and as much as said “this is what you get for talking back”.

The ones that didn’t blame us or damn us turned their backs. I only hope it was in shame.

Tom Farkas, who does the Stater for us and handles our web page has been staying up to report on this sick joke and will have all the details.

UPDATE: From the MSEA website.

The Appropriations Committee at 10:20 PM Monday, May 18, eliminated the across the board 5% pay cut on all State workers.

In its place, the Committee imposed 20 shutdown days (10 per fiscal year) on Executive Branch and Legislative Branch workers, exempting so-called “Tier 1″ workers such as those in institutions, law enforcement and public safety.

For workers in all three branches of state government, the Committee voted to freeze merit increases and longevity increases for two years. The Committee allowed for comparable savings to be identified through contract negotiations.

On health insurance, the Committee imposed tiered individual premiums as follows:
Beginning October 1, 2009, those earning $30,000 or less will pay no premium, those earning $30,001 to $79,999 will pay 5 percent premiums; and those earning $80,000 and up will pay 10 percent premiums.

Beginning July 1, 2010, those earning $30,000 or less will pay 5 percent premiums, those earning $30,001 to $79,999 will pay 10 percent premiums; and those earning $80,000 and up will pay 15 percent premiums.

The Committee voted to establish a health credit premium program for implementation on July 1, 2010, where workers could earn back some or all of their individual premiums through healthy behavior.

Under this program, to be developed by the State Employee Health Commission, workers earning $30,000 or less could earn their way back to fully paid premiums, those earning $30,001 to $79,999 could earn their way back to up to 95 percent paid premiums, and those earning $80,000 and up could earn their way back to up to 92.5 percent paid premiums.

These cuts affecting state workers are now part of the overall two-year state budget that will go to the House and Senate for voting.

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May 18th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, Maine State Employees, health care cuts | no comments

Cutting State Employees and Raising taxes is called Savings

I am older that I want to admit but tonight I am being educated. Listening to the appropriations committee discussing both raising taxes for all Mainers and cutting pay and benefits for all Mainers. Both scenarios are called “acheiving savings”.

Representative Millet wants to discuss the “savingss” achieved by going “above and beyond” what the governor proposed for cuts to State employees.

Not matching the income tax reductions to match the Federal reductions are also called savings.

Who is saving? Maine citizens? No. State Employees? No. Quote of the night “I have no problem cutting salaries of those making $150K”. Make you a deal, give me $150K and I will pay twenty percent of my medical and take a ten percent cut in pay……….and say thank you.

The same committee has no problem cutting the salaries of those making under 30K by as much as five to ten percent each year. No problems at all.

Listening to Rep. Martin I can understand the argument against term limits. Nothing slides by, no amendment is too complex. He asks “How does it affect Mainers?”

7:57 Pm State Employees piece Not done. Dinner Break. They will be back with an amendment after dinner break.

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May 18th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Uncategorized | no comments

If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem

I am on the negotiations team for the next contract for the Executive branch of State Government.
For two years many of us have been asking members to email legislators, put on a silly looking purple shirt and show up at the legislature for hearings.

Now that the legislature is acting like a mugger that expects to hear “Thank you, please come again” some of the less aware Union members think that paying dues is like hiring a mechanic to tune your car.

You don’t stay with the mechanic, you will pay for the service, you don’t need to read repair manuals, you don’t have to know how it works only that you paid for the service.

A Union does not work that way, a Union only gets strength from members helping members and showing a united front. I include two snippets of emails I have received to show the difference between one dues paying member and another.

The problem may be that those of us who are involved just have not worked hard enough to educate or co workers and our neighbors about the good Unions can do. See who you agree with. The member below is blaming the Union staff, maybe the board of directors, and definitely the negotiations team.

Before you get upset at this member, remember they have done more than most, they wrote, they let someone know how they felt. This is a beginning. I have followed it up with my response.

If you are one of those members and you want to know more about your Union or you can tell us what you think we should do, come on in, the water is cold.

I want to know what SEIU has been doing for us, when does the contract end with them?

What cuts will MSEA be taking, will there be shut down days, will there be a pay cut or better yet will you cut out dues by the same % as we are cut?

Shut down days give people the opportunity to work in order to make up the pay loss in 40 hours. 5% pay cut requires people to work above and beyond the 40 hours in order to make up the difference. This also gives you the opportunity to nego(tiate) a reduce(d) work week in the future.

When you give up 5% the next time you nego(tiate) you are getting back to where you were years ago.

My answer:


The Union has done everything we can. Remember when you say “the Union”, you are the Union. How many meetings have you been to? How many times have you answered an email blast and taken vacation time to go to he State House?

If you have been active, thank you. If you are active, how many people do you know that think that dues are the only thing needed to have a Union?

The situation we are in now has two root causes, the economy and member apathy. We can’t do a lot about the economy but if the hearings had always had fifty or even a hundred members wearing purple while hundreds or even thousands continued to send emails and phone calls to their legislators, we would not be where we are now.

The State wanted to cut paid holidays and that idea seems to be dead for the moment. Let me ask you honestly, how bad do you think it would have been with either no Union or a Republican majority?

I am a steward, I don’t get paid. I am on the negotiations team and I don’t get paid and I don’t expect any pats on the back.

I am involved because when I looked around to find out who was going to step forward, everyone else took a step back.

The Union motto is Solidarity, with it we can achieve nearly anything. Without it “the Union” will be weakened and will not be able to do what you want. Become involved, bring a friend to a chapter meeting, make a contribution to PASER for political action, become a steward or run for Union office and you can change what you don’t like.

Whether you do any of that or not, I will keep trying to make things better for you and so will all the other members who are struggling to do what is right.

Thomas Maher

After that incident I got this email and it gives a hint of what we need to do in the next two years. We need to do the same thing a Republican, a Democrat, or any elective body does….Hold them accountable for their mistakes.

This is quite a letter:

Dear MSEA/SEIU Local 1989 Board of Directors and PASER (Political Action Committee of MSEA):

I oppose all the cuts to State Employees in the budget for FYE-2010-2011. I’m really upset that legislators that sought our endorsement have now turned on us. As a member of PASER and having reviewed each endorsement, these legislators specifically told us in their returned questionnaires that they were opposed to cost shifting of our Health Insurance and now it appears they are united in sticking it to us any way they can.

I suffered through shutdown days, furlough days and reduced work weeks through the 1990’s under than Governor’s McKernan and King to just over $10,000 in forced take backs in my pay. We were given these shutdown days, furlough days and reduced workweeks to offset a COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) we received through bargaining. This time not only are we not going to get a COLA in bargaining but it appears the Governor and Legislator will be reducing our pay and take home through forcing us to pay contributions to our Health Insurance, unpaid holidays/shutdown days, and a freeze on merits.

My pension was changed after 9+ years of service. I had planned on retiring this year under the old promised plan where I estimated my pension (which I have contributed to for 25 years) would have been $23,169 the first year plus received a COLA each year after that. If I were to retire now my pension after 25 years of dedicated service would be $12,650 the first year and stay that same amount until if reached age 62 or for me 9 more years.(This is close to a reduction for me of almost 75 % from what I was promised when I started work back in 1984.)

Since 1991, or 18 years ago, we have had 10 years with no COLA (Cost of Living) raise, 6 years with a COLA of 2% or less. In the mean time we were told COLA’s could not be provided as the cost of insuring us was costing too much and we accepted this to keep our health insurance intact. We‘ve seen State surpluses in the State budget every year only to have it be put into a rainy day fund that at one point exceeded $150 million while we went without raises.

We’ve been told no money was available for raises while Governor’s funded their pet projects (Computers for Children and Dirigo Health Insurance Program for the uninsured.) Because of what has happened to us since 1991 we are severely underpaid from what others are paid for in other nearby State and the private sector here in Maine. A quick check of what State Employees are paid in Vermont and New Hampshire that do the same job as I do here in this State is a salary of $20,000 less and closer to $30,000 less if you look at RI, MA and CT. I don’t mind being paid the lowest in New England but should it be 40 % less? I say no.

Under this Governor we have seen people that qualify for MaineCare almost double, while we’re given up plenty. We know people on MaineCare pay no deductables and are not mandated to pay a co-pay for their healthcare. There is no doubt this is a tax on one group and one group alone, us State Employees. I pay taxes like everyone else. My property taxes that go up every year have COLA raises for town employees and teachers. Aren’t they public employees? Their health Insurance benefits where I live are just like ours on what their employer picks up 100 % cost of employees.

We’ve saved the State hundreds of million of dollars by self insuring our Health Insurance Program through Employee Health and Benefits being subjected to increasing co-pays for prescriptions and office visits. We pay deductibles and 40 % coverage for our dependents. Through all this we were able to build up a $30 million surplus which the Legislature stole last year to balance the budget. Currently the cuts they are asking us to come up with to balance the FYE 2010/2011 budget is around $28 million dollars which could have been paid for if they had left the surplus alone in the State Employee Insurance Program. We asked the Legislature to let the State Employee Health Commission to find ways to save money as they have done in the past but for some reason that is not an option to them this year.

No one is talking about raising additional revenues to cope with the current shortfall. Other States are doing it. Our Legislature has said they heard loud and clear the message voters sent last year when they collected enough signatures to force a referendum on proposed increase in soda and liquor taxes. They said no because the additional taxes on these items was going to be used to fund the Dirigo Health Insurance Plan, a plan most people think is/was a failed and costly attempt to insure the uninsured.

There are taxes that can be raised in this State that would be born on the backs of Visitors which voters would not object to as this is a different situation than Dirigo. This is about serious cutbacks to services the public wants and need.

We endorsed and help elect 17 Senators and 59 House Representatives which are getting a CC to this e-mail. Enough is enough. I recommend we ask that they vote individually on the following budget proposals that will affect our pay outside the whole big budget issue so we know where they stand for future endorsements. This should be separate votes on cost shifting of our health insurance, forcing unpaid state shutdown days/unpaid vacations days, freeze on merits and reductions in our pay. I could not find the e-mail addresses of Sen. Nancy Sullivan, Sen. Justin Alfond, Sen. Seth Goodall and Sen. Elizabeth Schneider on the State e-mail system to include the e-mail to them. Apparently they don’t want to hear from people.

I’m sorry that I thought we could trust the Legislators to the promises they made in order to get our endorsement. I feel like I’ve let everyone down that trusted me to endorse the right candidates. I apologize to my brothers and sisters who counted on me.

Steven R. Keaten

PASER Committee

Steve, No apologies needed, I know how hard you work for us and the economy and faithless politicians are not your fault. We asked to be allowed to show them the waste and fraud in State Government and they refused…..and refused again……….and again.

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May 16th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Uncategorized | no comments