UnionMaine

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6/29/09

New Hampshire, What did they do?

The State of New Hampshire passed a budget by a narrow margin last week. The budget is for $11.5 billion for the two-year plan, starting July 1.

Things are so bad in NH that even an income tax is looking good to some voters. Like Maine, programs and services suffer; and the hunt for alternative revenue starts to look like a drunken party game where no one is laughing.

Legislators settled on a mix of fees, increased tobacco taxes and cuts to come up with a something both sides could vote for. Like Maine, except for Bangor, they rejected the expansion of gambling and an increase in the gas tax.

In Maine we could have told them how to pass gambling. Refuse to let natives or in Maine’s case native Americans run a casino which would have kept all the money in Maine then allow an out of state firm to ship 50$,000,000.00 a year to Connecticut.

Funds from a gas tax could have paid for bridges and roads. New Hampshire’s gas tax was last increased in 1992. The wealthy have again refused to pay a faire share and their worshippers in the legislature voted against higher taxes on the wealthy.

N.H. and ME. have even more in common, State workers. The budget passed Gov. Lynch to cut the labor bill by $25 million, through layoffs, furloughs or other means.

State employees have already seen 200 layoffs announced, but to cut the budget by $25,000,000.00 the total could reach to an additional 750 layoffs. The following announcement was posted on the SEIU 1984 website.

Governor Lynch’s public statements about the Budget have included discussion of additional state employee layoffs. If you receive a notice of layoff or transfer, contact the SEA immediately at 271-3411. The ability of SEA staff to assist you will vary according to several factors — one key factor is how quickly you contact the union after receiving notice. So please do not delay; contact the SEA immediately if you receive a notice of layoff or transfer.


The courts: The budget will force cutbacks of both employees and hours and will threaten public safety while delaying justice.

At least N.H. still has State liquor stores which will expand to provide more revenue to the State. When does the time run out on the outsourcing of State revenue in Maine end? Can we bring our liquor stores back into the revenue stream?

Attacking State employees is an old trick. It is a trick that can’t solve the N.H. budget crisis and did nothing to solve the problem in Maine. What gimmick will the Republicans insist on next time around?

Don’t think your pensions are safe, the Repubs are salivating over what have worked a life time to earn.

There are many ways to get at your retirement and only one way to protect it. Get involved, get your family involved and let the legislative critters know you vote.

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June 28th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | New Hampshire, Same-sex marriage State budget | no comments

But Wait, there is no more.

Note: Late Post, I have no idea why this did not go out last week.

OxiCleanImage by kowitz via Flickr

Superstar of the Infomercials Billy Mays died at his Tampa, Florida, home Sunday morning.

Billy Mays is pitching health insurance hahahaha!Image by Roscoe Van Damme via FlickrImage by Roscoe Van Damme via Flickr

Dead at 50 the hyperactive pitchman was famous for his shouting OxiClean ads.

St. Peter, get your credit card out NOW!
Go in Peace Billy Mays.

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June 28th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Billy Mays, Death, OxiClean, Tampa Florida, billymays | no comments

Optomism from Harold Shaw jr.

I mentioned Harold Shaw in another post. Harold is a State Employee and a very talented guy. While reading his blog I came across this optimistic piece that debunks some of the negative press that the right wing is trying to circulate about the president.

If you write, take photos, or have any skill that can be put on a web site, drop me a line and I will try to give you a plug. All Union members invited, not a Union member? If you read this blog, your heart is in the right place, come on in!
Please forgive any formatting errors resulting from translating from his page.
From Here on in, it is all Harold’s.

DISCLAIMER

The opinions expressed in this blog and this post in particular are my personal opinions. They do not reflect the opinions of my employer or anyone else and do not provide any official or unofficial interpretations or guidance on what is being written about. They are simply “my thoughts”.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


THE OBAMETER UPDATE 6-14-09

Update on the Obamameter from the St. Petersburg Times.

image

Many have conveniently forgotten how bad things were getting in January 2009 and what President Obama walked into when he took the oath of office six short months ago. The conservatives and wingnuts want people to think that all of the things that are wrong with this Country are his fault. This is a Presidency, that inherited an economy that was in shambles, an international reputation as a lone ranger and a bully, warmongering (Iraq and Afganistan), declining respect by the people for the government, and a “get it while you can mentality” in and out of government. He did not start the bailouts to the banking industry, the recession, the wars or many of the other things that have been news stories and laid at his feet, but he sure as heck was caught in the middle of them.

President Obama is coming up on 6 months in office and actually for the short amount of time in office, he has been effective. He has restored some of America’s tarnished image on the world stage, he has attempted to reach out to the conservative and had his hand slapped away, he has used the bully pulpit to get his programs through.

Does this mean I agree with everything that he had done – of course not. I believe that he has tried to work too much with the conservatives, I believe that there should be a single payer national health insurance at a basic level and if you want more than that go to the private health industry, Guethner has turned out to be more of an insider to the financial industry and a few others.

Overall, I like the direction he is taking my Country. Away from the extremists in either party.

We did have a peaceful transition of power, but that is not to say it has been easy or civil at times from the world of the Conservatives or “Wingnuts”.

Those are my thoughts, what are yours?

Creative Commons License
This work by Harold L. Shaw, Jr. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

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June 24th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Harold Shaw, Maine State Employees, obama promises | no comments

Before there were Unions Free Market Capatalism Was Free to Grow

I’ve got nothing tonight, but a civics lesson and a history lesson. Our tax dollars paid for the article below and it is free for all of us.

Many some ones paid for our right to be free and to have a chance to organize and to try to earn a living for our selves and our families. We have to learn the history of the so called free market and the real results of deregulation or we will be doomed to repeat them.

Http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/hine-photos/

Teaching With Documents:
Photographs of Lewis Hine: Documentation of Child Labor

Background

“There is work that profits children, and there is work that brings profit only to employers. The object of employing children is not to train them, but to get high profits from their work.”

– Lewis Hine, 1908

After the Civil War, the availability of natural resources, new inventions, and a receptive market combined to fuel an industrial boom. The demand for labor grew, and in the late 19th and early 20th centuries many children were drawn into the labor force.

Factory wages were so low that children often had to work to help support their families. The number of children under the age of 15 who worked in industrial jobs for wages climbed from 1.5 million in 1890 to 2 million in 1910.

Businesses liked to hire children because they worked in unskilled jobs for lower wages than adults, and their small hands made them more adept at handling small parts and tools. Children were seen as part of the family economy.

Immigrants and rural migrants often sent their children to work, or worked alongside them. However, child laborers barely experienced their youth. Going to school to prepare for a better future was an opportunity these underage workers rarely enjoyed.

As children worked in industrial settings, they began to develop serious health problems. Many child laborers were underweight. Some suffered from stunted growth and curvature of the spine.

They developed diseases related to their work environment, such as tuberculosis and bronchitis for those who worked in coal mines or cotton mills. They faced high accident rates due to physical and mental fatigue caused by hard work and long hours.

By the early 1900s many Americans were calling child labor “child slavery” and were demanding an end to it. They argued that long hours of work deprived children of the opportunity of an education to prepare themselves for a better future.

Instead, child labor condemmed them to a future of illiteracy, poverty, and continuing misery. In 1904 a group of progressive reformers founded the National Child Labor Committee, an organization whose goal was the abolition of child labor. The organization received a charter from Congress in 1907.

It hired teams of investigators to gather evidence of children working in harsh conditions and then organized exhibitions with photographs and statistics to dramatize the plight of these children. These efforts resulted in the establishment in 1912 of the Children’s Bureau as a federal information clearinghouse. In 1913 the Children’s Bureau was transferred to the Department of Labor.

Lewis Hine, a New York City schoolteacher and photographer, believed that a picture could tell a powerful story.

He felt so strongly about the abuse of children as workers that he quit his teaching job and became an investigative photographer for the National Child Labor Committee. Hine traveled around the country photographing the working conditions of children in all types of industries.

He photographed children in coal mines, in meatpacking houses, in textile mills, and in canneries. He took pictures of children working in the streets as shoe shiners, newsboys, and hawkers.

In many instances he tricked his way into factories to take the pictures that factory managers did not want the public to see. He was careful to document every photograph with precise facts and figures.

To obtain captions for his pictures, he interviewed the children on some pretext and then scribbled his notes with his hand hidden inside his pocket.

Because he used subterfuge to take his photographs, he believed that he had to be “double-sure that my photo data was 100% pure–no retouching or fakery of any kind.” Hine defined a good photograph as “a reproduction of impressions made upon the photographer which he desires to repeat to others.” Because he realized his photographs were subjective, he described his work as “photo-interpretation.”

Hine believed that if people could see for themselves the abuses and injustice of child labor, they would demand laws to end those evils. By 1916, Congress passed the Keating-Owens Act that established the following child labor standards: a minimum age of 14 for workers in manufacturing and 16 for workers in mining; a maximum workday of 8 hours; prohibition of night work for workers under age 16; and a documentary proof of age.

Unfortunately, this law was later ruled unconstitutional on the ground that congressional power to regulate interstate commerce did not extend to the conditions of labor. Effective action against child labor had to await the New Deal. Reformers, however, did succeed in forcing legislation at the state level banning child labor and setting maximum hours. By 1920 the number of child laborers was cut to nearly half of what it had been in 1910.

Lewis Hine died in poverty, neglected by all but a few. His reputation continued to grow, however, and now he is recognized as a master American photographer.

His photographs remind us what it was like to be a child and to labor like an adult at a time when labor was harsher than it is now.

Hine’s images of working children stirred America’s conscience and helped change the nation’s labor laws. Through his exercise of free speech and freedom of the press, Lewis Hine made a difference in the lives of American workers and, most importantly, American children.

Hundreds of his photographs are available online from the National Archives through the Archival Research Catalog (ARC) .

Resources

Foner, Eric, and John A. Garraty, eds. The Reader’s Companion to American History. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1991.

Nash, Gary B., et al. The American People: Creating a Nation and a Society. New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1990.

Tindall, George Brown, with David E. Shi. America: A Narrative History. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1992.

The Documents

Garment Workers, New York, NY
Click to Enlarge

Garment Workers, New York, NY
January 25, 1908
National Archives and Records Administration
Records of the Department of Commerce and Labor, Children’s Bureau
Record Group 102
ARC Identifier: 523065

Basket Seller, Cincinnati, OH
Click to Enlarge

Basket Seller, Cincinnati, OH
August 22, 1908
National Archives and Records Administration
Records of the Department of Commerce and Labor, Children’s Bureau
Record Group 102
ARC Identifier: 523070

Boys and Girls Selling Radishes
Click to Enlarge

Boys and Girls Selling Radishes
August 22, 1908
National Archives and Records Administration
Records of the Department of Commerce and Labor, Children’s Bureau
Record Group 102
ARC Identifier: 523071

oy Working in a Shoe-Shining Parlor, Indianapolis, IN
Click to Enlarge

Boy Working in a Shoe-Shining Parlor, Indianapolis, IN
August 1908
National Archives and Records Administration
Records of the Department of Commerce and Labor, Children’s Bureau
Record Group 102
ARC Identifier: 523072

Top of Page

Boys in a Cigar Factory, Indianapolis, IN
Click to Enlarge

Boys in a Cigar Factory, Indianapolis, IN
August 1908
National Archives and Records Administration
Records of the Department of Commerce and Labor, Children’s Bureau
Record Group 102
ARC Identifier: 523076

Boy Running 'Trip Rope' in a Mine, Welch, WV
Click to Enlarge

Boy Running “Trip Rope” in a Mine, Welch, WV
September 1908
National Archives and Records Administration
Records of the Department of Commerce and Labor, Children’s Bureau
Record Group 102
ARC Identifier: 523077

Children Working in a Bottle Factory, Indianapolis, IN
Click to Enlarge

Children Working in a Bottle Factory, Indianapolis, IN
August 1908
National Archives and Records Administration
Records of the Department of Commerce and Labor, Children’s Bureau
Record Group 102
ARC Identifier: 523080

Child Workers Outside Factory
Click to Enlarge

The Noon Hour at an Indianapolis Cannery, Indianapolis IN
August 1908
National Archives and Records Administration
Records of the Department of Commerce and Labor, Children’s Bureau
Record Group 102
ARC Identifier: 523088

Glass Blower and Mold Boy, Grafton, WV
Click to Enlarge

Glass Blower and Mold Boy, Grafton, WV
October 1908
National Archives and Records Administration
Records of the Department of Commerce and Labor, Children’s Bureau
Record Group 102
ARC Identifier: 523090

Girls at Weaving Machines, Evansville, IN
Click to Enlarge

Girls at Weaving Machines, Evansville, IN
October 1908
National Archives and Records Administration
Records of the Department of Commerce and Labor, Children’s Bureau
Record Group 102
ARC Identifier: 523100

Top of Page

Young Boys Schucking Oysters, Apalachicola, FL
Click to Enlarge

Young Boys Schucking Oysters, Apalachicola, FL
January 25, 1909

National Archives and Records Administration
Records of the Department of Commerce and Labor, Children’s Bureau
Record Group 102
ARC Identifier: 523162

Girl Working in Box Factory, Tampa, FL
Click to Enlarge

Girl Working in Box Factory, Tampa, FL
January 28, 1909
National Archives and Records Administration
Records of the Department of Commerce and Labor, Children’s Bureau
Record Group 102
ARC Identifier: 523166

Nine-Year Old Newsgirl, Hartford, CT
Click to Enlarge

Nine-Year Old Newsgirl, Hartford, CT
March 6, 1909
National Archives and Records Administration
Records of the Department of Commerce and Labor, Children’s Bureau
Record Group 102
ARC Identifier: 523174

Boy Picking Berries, Near Baltimore, MD
Click to Enlarge

Boy Picking Berries, Near Baltimore, MD
June 8, 1909
National Archives and Records Administration
Records of the Department of Commerce and Labor, Children’s Bureau
Record Group 102
ARC Identifier: 523205

Workers Stringing Beans, Baltimore, MD
Click to Enlarge

Workers Stringing Beans, Baltimore, MD
June 7, 1909
National Archives and Records Administration
Records of the Department of Commerce and Labor, Children’s Bureau
Record Group 102
ARC Identifier: 523215

Boys Working in an Arcade Bowling Alley, Trenton, NJ
Click to Enlarge

Boys Working in an Arcade Bowling Alley, Trenton, NJ
December 20, 1909
National Archives and Records Administration
Records of the Department of Commerce and Labor, Children’s Bureau
Record Group 102
ARC Identifier: 523246

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June 23rd, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Labor, Labor Movement, Labor rights, Lewis Hine, MSEA, MSEASEIU, child labor | no comments

SEIU —Union Success in Californeeyah

SACRAMENTO, CA - JANUARY 9:  California Gov. A...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

On Tuesday, lawmakers on the California Legislature’s joint budget committee refused to cut state worker pay and spared that state’s In-Home Support Services the major cut that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed as part of his plan to solve the state’s $24.3 billion deficit.

Under the governor’s budget proposal, IHSS would stand to lose roughly $765 million, resulting in a near-elimination of services for nearly 400,000 people—or 90 percent of the elderly or disabled persons currently receiving care. Making such drastic cuts to California’s IHSS program to make up for budgetary shortfalls would also result in more people having to resort to institutional care (nursing homes or other residential institutions)– which is estimated to be four times more expensive to the State.

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June 18th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Arnold Schwarzenegger, California Legislature, California State Legislature | no comments

No money, no hope and State Employees

FOR KROCHER NO HOPEImage by Phreak 2.0 via Flickr




No money, no hope the public and State Employees all over the country continue to take hits.

Maine has an ongoing freeze on all but essential hiring and mandatory shut down days.

How critical are the shut down days? Do they save money? Are they at least being done with the public in mind?

The State has the first shut down day scheduled for July 6, and has already made thousands of exceptions, over 2100 so far.

You would expect all the jobs to be in emergency or life saving positions but a look at the list lets you see that in many cases management is considered essential while the employees with the skills to do the work are told to stay home.

If they need help, exactly who are they going to call?

Instead of sharing the pain over all State Employees the legislature targeted only the executive branch with the lion’s share of the cuts in a kiss on the lips to the Republicans whose goals had nothing to do with fiscal responsibility and everything to do with hurting Maine citizens just because they work for the State..

When ordering the hiring freeze and the shut down days, the legislature said the disastrous economy required tough choices, and promised that only positions that supported the most vital jobs would be exceptions to the shut down rules.

The intent was to keep only the employees necessary to keep basic functions of government running on the job, filling only those jobs required by law, or of course the tax department.

While we have State Employee lay offs the State is entering the 5th and 6th year of a $2,000,000.00 per year contract for contractors to work for Maine Revenue Service.

Each position costs at least $133,000.00 per year, PLUS the contracted out cost of managing the contract, PLUS the cost at about $159,000.00 to hire a contractor to manage the contractors. If you think a State Employee costs $150,000.00 and up for the same position you would be sadly wrong.

The appropriations committee told the commissioner of Maine Revenue Services when he wanted to hire two employees “We’ll contract it out because that doesn’t cost anything”.

Great! I am going to hire out the remodeling of my house and that won’t cost anything I suppose! In the current economic climate our elected officials must be careful protectors of our scarce dollars, but when it comes to admitting that in many cases a State Employee can do it cheaper, they would rather contract it out.

Even in tough times Maine will probably continue to hire more and more middle management while cutting services to the public. Even with the exceptions made to the shut down days the State of Maine is continuing to try to reduce the workforce.

A retirement incentive of $10,000.00 is in place for a lucky few; workers are retiring, and finding other jobs even in this economy and many of those jobs are going unfilled increasing the workload while the State refuses to look at real savings on contracting out.

The Augusta crowd continues to feed rich landlords while State buildings go empty. They hire contractors more expensively than giving jobs to Mainers. We allowed a casino to be built and ship $50,000,000.00 per year out of State because we couldn’t trust our own American Indian population to run a casino.

When does this end?

.

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June 18th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Layoff, MSEA-SEIU, Maine Revenue Service, State Employee | 3 comments

Oregon Bill Bans Mandatory Anti-Union Meetings, Moves to the House


I want to be the 1st person through the door the morning after a local Wal-Mart Unionizes. I will wear my Union colors and call the “associates” brother or sister.

It has been estimated that the cost of better wages and benefits for all Wally World employees could cost an extra $1.00 to a $1.50 per $$100.00 purchase.

Wal-Mart could swallow that and never even have to raise prices. Recently the corp. made a Twelve Billion dollar profit in one year.

The Oregon senate believes workers are able to choose to form a Union and bargain for themselves.

The senate also believes employees may be able to think for themselves and should not be forced to attend coercive, mandatory anti-union meetings held by an aggressive and threatening management.

Monday the Oregon Senate passed the Worker Freedom Act. It now goes to the House, where it passed in 2007.

The legislation, if passed will make it illegal for an employer to discipline or fire a worker who refuses to attend a meeting on politics, religion or union organizing during work hours.

Almost all anti-union campaigns are use mandatory meetings where employers or hired Union Busters use scare tactics to intimidate workers. Depending on how you look at the statistics between 25% and 60% of companies involved in a Unionization campaign fire or punish employees who support Unions.

During the 2008 Presidential campaign, Wal-Mart forced employees to attend meetings where they were told that electing Democrats to the White House and Congress could threaten their jobs.

The Worker Freedom Act was passed 16-14, by the Oregon Senate.

Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski has said he will sign the bill if it reaches his desk.

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June 18th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | EFCA, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, Maine State Employees, Oregon, Ted Kulongoski, Trade union, Union busting, Wal-Mart | no comments

Getting to 60 votes. EFCA NOW

San Diego Labor Council Cesar Chavez EFCA Marc...Image by aflcio2008 via Flickr

We already have a majority in the House of Representatives and we have President Obama’s promise that he will sign the bill. It all comes down to the Senate.

The rumor is that by the end of the month AL Franken the Minnesota Senator, will be seated. This will place us just shy of the 60 votes we need for a “cloture” vote. The cloture vote will stop the filibuster and allow the bill to proceed for a majority vote.

As moderate Republicans it’s liekly that Senator Olympia Snowe or Collins could be that sixtieth vote. In effect, we have the power as Maine voters to decide this fight. Therefore we have a responsibility to our state, and to our country to fight like hell to convince Olympia Snowe, and Susan Collins that passing the Employee Free Choice Act is absolutely essential for a more equitable, sustainable society. So here are some of the ways you can get in the fray.

1) Educate yourself and your friends and family. For more materials and information about the Employee Free Choice Act visit the Working Families Toolkit. You can make custom flyers and fact sheets after briefly registering: www.workingfamiliestoolkit.com

2) Call Senator Snowe and Collins and tell them how you feel about the Employee Free Choice Act

Senator Snowe’s Offices
Auburn 207-786-2451
Augusta 207- 622-8292
Bangor 207-945-0432
Biddeford 207-282-4144
Portland 207-282-4144
Presque Isle 207-764-5124

Senator Collin’s Offices
Augusta 207-622-8414
Bangor 207-945-0417
Biddeford 207-283-1101
Lewiston 207-784-6969
Caribou 207-493-7873
Portland 207-780-3575

3) Write a letter to the editor of your local paper. Use this link to find your local paper and submit your letter. http://www.unionvoice.org/campaign/ltrefca/search-zip?rk=&preview=f

4) Write a letter to our Senators and tell them why you support the Employee free Choice Act. Find their local office address here.

Senator Snowe’s Office Addresses

Senator Collin’s Office Addresses

5) Encourage your friends and family to write and call too!

6) Speak to your Rabbi, Minister, Priest or Pastor about publicly supporting the Employee Free Choice Act by signing a letter in support of it. To obtain the letter contact bniccoli@aflcio.org .

7) If you own a business, or know of a business owner that supports the Employee Free Choice Act encourage them to contact btraslav@employeefreechoice.org to sign on to the small business support letter.

8) Sign up for Maine AFL-CIO Get Active e-mails. You can do so by contacting maineaflciopress@gmail.com with your name, union or organization affiliation and e-mail address. You will receive a weekly update on the campaign and occasional information about other important labor events.

For more EFCA news check the source of this cross post.http://employeefreechoice.typepad.com/me/

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June 17th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Al Franken, EFCA, EFCA compromise, Employee Free Choice Act, afl-cio, e | no comments

Sen. Olympia Snowe has the vote that could swing the debate on Health Care. How will she vote?

WASHINGTON - JANUARY 10:  U.S Sen. Olympia Sno...Image by Getty Images via Daylife


She has raked in over $1 million in contributions from the health care industry.

Senator Snowe may end up the deciding vote on one of the issues that brought Democrats into power. The overhaul of the health care system so the system provides health care instead of profits to a few is a priority among many liberal voters. A public plan for insurance coverage is the only viable choice against the smoke screen of compromises floated by the right.

Olympia has been around a long time and knows how to be a power broker; hers was the only GOP signature missing among members of the Senate Finance Committee missing from a letter sent to the White House week opposing a public option. The downside is that she is pushing her own “trigger” compromise that would still effectively kill any meaningful bill.

All I need to know is that insurance companies support the bill.

How will Senator Snow vote?

She has a strong record of support for women and the disadvantaged.

Received over $400,000 from the insurance industry.

$400,000 from “health professionals”.

$135,000 from hospitals and nursing homes.

$100,000 from pharmaceutical and health products companies.

Over $60,000 from health services and HMOs.

See: records from the open-government group.

Donors include the PACS for the American Medical Association , Aetna Inc , and the American Hospital Association.

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June 16th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Aetna, American Hospital Association, Health, Health care, Insurance, Olympia Snowe, Republican, White House, public h | no comments

Another State Employee Blog



Based on the Fionavar Trilogy by Guy Gavriel Kay

Poster from http://www.brightweavings.com/


I just ran into another Blog by a State Employee, Harold Shaw, his Blog has too much to list so I will paste in his description. This might be a great place for you to try if you are tired of politics and just want some humor, or great pictures of Maine or pets…..See I told you it was too much to describe.



Harold Shaw

About Harold


This Blog is my personal blog about my thoughts on whatever I am presently thinking about – it could be most anything from politics, aging, software/hardware reviews, education and other topics that are controversial or interesting to me or it could just be what is going on in my life today. Please do take the time to comment, how else will I learn what you think?

Editor: Staying in character for my blog, I will pick a post of Harold’s that deals with State Employees. It is just a little in the past but shows a great understanding of the problem and is a proud voice for State Employees.


MAINE STATE EMPLOYEE BUDGET CUTS

The opinions expressed in this blog and this post in particular are my personal opinions and do not reflect the opinions of my employer and do not provide any official or unofficial interpretations or guidance on what is being written about. See the above disclaimer tab for further information and my full blog disclaimer.

Well the news is out, we finally know (sort of) what is happening to Maine State employees if the State budget passes as it came out of the Budget Committee last night/this morning. Initial reports have State employees having at least 20 state closure days without pay and some sort of health insurance change/co-pay over the course of the next 2 years. (Editor: Since this post, the 10% health care cut, the loss of longevity, loss of merit steps and the loss of the right to bargain have added to the harm done with no negotiations)

How do I feel about this? I understand the rationale/reasons and would prefer to have the “state-wide closure no pay days” than a straight 5% pay cut. At least it means I will have some extra time off, even if I don’t get paid for it. Supposedly they will align these closure day with Monday holidays making it 4 days in a row vs 3. It does mean the there will be less time to complete projects, complete work, etc., but I do believe that we have to do our part to help through the budget crisis we are currently in. But I am concerned about State employees at the lowest end of the pay scale and how this will impact their budgets?

The medical insurance will impact people the most, but it is another reason why I support a single-payer health care system that covers every single American with the same basic coverage. If you want or can negotiate with your work to provide more than the basic coverage that is a great thing, but everyone needs to have health care, which in turn would make this less of an issue for any employer.

The bottom line is that I will loose at least 10 paid days a year which means that I am still employed for 230 (240 is considered the number of days the average person works in a year) days, which is a lot better than many people in the U.S. or the World are doing. Hopefully, this is the last round of cuts that have to be made. (Editor: Sorry to say Harold, but some in the legislature are planning on coming back for seconds in January. Next on the radar, current and future retirement benefits.)

However, if it did come to a lay-off, it would not be easy for us, but we would make the best of it, just like anyone else that is laid off does. But to be prepared (just in case) because you never know what will happen, we are pushing to pay off the mortgage – it is done in Sept 2010, and paying down all other bills we have, but it is better to be prepared than suddenly getting hit with a lay off and then having a mountain of bills.

I hope that we are beginning to turn this mess around and that this recession is going to get better soon, so that more cuts or layoffs are not necessary – only time will tell. Do I think that this is the right thing to do now? I think so, we as State employees have a responsibility do our part to help our State through this difficult time.

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June 14th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Harold Shaw, Maine Blogs, Maine State Employees, state employee lay offs, state employee pay cuts | no comments