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From the Heart

This is cross posted from my wife’s Blog on the fifth. She is the real writer in the family. I can’t add anything to what she said.

News From Hawkhill Acres

Heart Patches

Posted: 05 Mar 2009 06:45 AM PST

TogetherYesterday was the third anniversary of my youngest son Mike’s death. His sister is 11, a few months older than he was when he died. I read about another family who lost a child and what David Cameron, the father, said after his son’s funeral. He said Ivan’s death had left a hole in the family so big “words can’t describe it.”

That hole is what made my chest hurt for months after my son died. Why I didn’t have a heart attack is a mystery to me, because I’ve never felt anything so painful, not even childbirth. My kids felt the same pain, but I think it was worse for my daughter than it was for my oldest son.

Daughter and Mike were inseparable. She came to us when Mike was 3 and after his doctors had assured us that he would lead a normal life, with a few developmental delays. We didn’t want to take on another child if I’d be spending weeks in the hospital like I had with Mike’s many illnesses for his first 3 years. We should have trusted our own instincts, but I guess we wanted to believe that Mike was finally out of the woods and that his immune system had “kicked in” as the doctors put it.

It hadn’t and there were more hospitalizations, but not as many, and he and Daughter bonded immediately. He fed her, held her, read to her and shared his toys and everything he had with her. He was never jealous. To the contrary, he pushed her forward to make sure that she got her share of our attention.

We have so many photos of them snuggled together in a rocker, curled up on the couch watching TV, playing with their little dolls and blocks, and sleeping in a heap like puppies or kittens. Even when they were older and they began to develop separate interests, they still leaned on each other, stood with their arms around each other and hugged each other goodnight every night.

I read somewhere that it surprises parents, when their child dies, how much of their grief is yearning for the physical presence of their child. It surprised me, although it shouldn’t have. Mike needed so much “hands-on” care from me: nebulizer treatments four times a day and sometimes every two hours for days, help with bathing because of the tubes in his ears and severe asthma that meant that a drop of water in his lungs developed into pneumonia almost immediately, help with many things that most kids his age could do independently but he couldn’t because of developmental delays. I didn’t realize until after he was gone how many times during the day I smoothed his hair back, held him in my lap for nebulizer treatments or kissed the back of his neck as he snuggled because he was sick and needed comforting.

How much more must his sister have suffered, because she had lost her biggest source of comfort. I had her and her brother and my husband. She had me, but I have to admit that I wasn’t really “there” for a long time after Mike died. I went through the motions. I hugged her and held her and cried with her, but the biggest part of me had gone with Mike.

So many people told me, starting with the chaplain in Mike’s room right after he died, that I’d heal. I got so tired of hearing that, because I knew that it wasn’t true. You heal from broken bones, cuts and diseases, but not from the death of your child. Go on, yes. Of course, I’d go on; I have other children. If I hadn’t, I would have driven into a pole on the way home, which is what I felt like doing. But heal? Not bloody likely.

I haven’t changed my mind about that. None of us has healed. Our hearts all still have a hole in them. One of my kids said that the problem is that it’s a Mike-shaped hole, so nothing else fits into it. That’s a very wise way of putting it. The only thing that’s happened is that finally, just in the last few months, we’ve started to patch the hole.

Yesterday, instead of keeping to ourselves like we have on March 4th for the last two years, we had friends over. Three kids to throw snowballs for the dog with Daughter, to chase each other around the kitchen and fall into a laughing heap when we tell them not to run in the house. Kids laughing at a funny movie and finally, another little girl to whisper and giggle in Daughter’s bed and sneak the dog up between them so they can both hug her.

Our hearts will never heal, but they’ll grow stronger where they’re patched. Daughter will never stop missing her brother, but memories of what she’s lost are being overlaid with what she’s gaining every day. I’ll never stop missing my son, but watching my other two children reaching toward happiness and growing toward the light is my heart patch.

We realized after Mike died that he was the glue that held our family together in many ways. Mike was a peacemaker, a bridge between Daughter and Son, who are 8 years apart from each other in age. He was our social guy, the kid who drew the rest of us introverts into contact with other people and new experiences. When he was sick, we all rallied ’round and helped each other and him. When he was well, he was usually lying on the floor playing with his cars, while he leaned against me or his sister.

For months after Mike died, I couldn’t settle to anything. I felt like I needed to be moving, to drive, to go away from home. I didn’t know why for a long while, then it hit me. I was looking for Mike. He wasn’t home, so he must be somewhere out there. Naturally, we can’t settle to anything when our child is missing. He’s still gone, but I don’t look for him anymore. I know where he is. He’s in our hearts, right under the patch.

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March 6th, 2009 Posted by Tom Maher | Uncategorized | no comments

National news and Bargaining updates

On the national front we really have a secretary of labor, not a secretary for CEOs.

In a public appearance sponsored by the AFL-CIO, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis vowed to fully enforce the laws that protect workers–unlike her predecessor who declared war on working people for eight years. Solis, who was one of the first supporters in Congress for the Employee Free Choice Act also said she would work to pass and then enforce the legislation if it becomes law. Both of Solis’ parents were Union members.

Saying “there’s a new sheriff in town,” Solis told 700 union and community activists that one of the Obama administration’s top priorities is to provide protection for workers in the workplace. Solis added that she would work with employers to help workers get family-supporting jobs.

American workers know how to work and they know how to work hard and smart. If your employee is taking care of your company you should be taking care of your employees. While productivity by the American worker has continued to rise wages have not kept up with profits or productivity.

Introducing the new labor secretary, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney praised Solis as the “only labor secretary in recent memory from a working family, union background.”

Bargaining for the Executive Branch Continues.

During bargaining we got the news that the legislature was holding hearings on State Employee health care. It is not looking like there is going to be any good answers. They don’t want to cut health care, they want to hurt State Employees and take the credit. No one at the negotiations table can bargain health care the legislature has it all. If you have any feelings on the subject call the Union and tell them what you want, what you think would work, but do it quick.

The State team had to cancel today, March 4 due to being dragged into the legislature for hearing. We have a lot of dates set up and we have looked at hundreds of proposal forms sent in by members. I have spent hours on the phone calling members and asking about their ideas to get every thing straight. Many of the team members for all units have done the same, hours at the table, more hours on the phone and email at home, your teams will do the best they can.There are more meetings scheduled in March and then the pace gets hectic with April being nearly one long round of bargaining.

04/07, 04/08, 04/14, 04/15, 04/27, 04/28, 04/29, 04/30, 05/01

We are scheduled to have nearly two days every week and a solid week at the end of April. Whether we are supposed to think the State wants to wrap it up or wear us down doesn’t matter. We are there for as long as it takes. At some point in April solid proposals will start to go back and forth. The bargaining rules the teams agreed on don’t let us list the proposals until we reach a tentative agreement but remember, you have the final vote. We will try to get you something worth voting on.

What do you want? What are the most important things you need to make your job better? Money, security, training, tools, or just a little respect. If you know a team member, email or give them a call of support. We all volunteered but it is not an easy job knowing how much anything we do, or don’t do could affect ten thousand employees. At the same time some of the injustices we have seen against a single employee have left me grateful I am not doing those jobs.

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March 4th, 2009 Posted by Tom Maher | Uncategorized | no comments

Lighten Up!

Maybe Gilligan did have some private moments with one of “the girls”.
Bobby (Gilligan?) Jindal

The next link, caught my attention while I was wondering if Advil could help with writers block. At first I thought it was funny, if you are over 50, I hope you are strong enough for laughter. Read the excerpt and follow the link to

“Teach me to booger sleaze”

From the blog, BadAttitudes

If, like me, you have entered the funhouse of late middle age you will soon discover that the mirrors distort not only how you look but what you hear.

Did that refined-looking woman next to you at the lunch counter really say, “Could you teach me to booger, sleaze?” And if she didn’t say that, what did she say? You haven’t a clue, so you retreat into safe territory: you take umbrage. “Excuse me. I beg your pardon. What did you say?”

The woman carefully, patiently, repeats her request: “Could you reach the sugar for me, please.” Link

Check out the Republican Spokesman with no answers, claiming PORK.

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March 2nd, 2009 Posted by Tom Maher | MSEA-SEIU, SEIU, SEIU 1989, UNIONMAINE, msea maine, state employee lay offs | no comments

Airlines Favor profit over safety. The Employer Free Choice Act

Untrained Pilots of

the Future?

Pilot Sully says Pilot Pay Cuts Put Passengers in danger. The pilot of Flight 1459 says the industry is driving out experienced pilots. The hero pilot has seen his pay cut and his pension destroyed as a reward for years of dedicated service. When do you think we will hear about Sully getting his huge retention bonus?

The pilot who successfully saved a planeload of passengers using years of skills and training by safely landing in the Hudson River said that pay and benefit cuts are driving experienced pilots from the cockpit. The US Airways pilot told the aviation subcommittee he has seen a 40 percent cut in his pay at the same time his pension was terminated and handed to the Federal Pension Guaranty Corp where he will get a pension “worth pennies on the dollar” .

Trained Union Pilot on the


The cuts were forced after several airline bankruptcies. Many of the management teams that oversaw the destruction of pay and pensions received huge bonuses as a reward for performance.. The cuts have placed “pilots and their families in an untenable financial situation,” Sullenberger said. “I do not know a single, professional airline pilot who wants his or her children to follow in their footsteps.”

Copilot Jeffrey B. Skiles said without labor-management reforms “experienced crews in the cockpit will be a thing of the past.” Sullenberger said in his always controlled style that without experienced pilots “we will see negative consequences to the flying public.” Will the airlines report a 200 mile an hour landing in a pine forest as an “extended delay”.

Do you think temp agencies can send in pilots on an as needed basis? How about we take one of the executives that received bonuses for cutting Union pay and benefits and put them alone into the cockpit of a plane, take it off remotely and then kill the engines. If the executive lives then they can keep their life and consider it “pay for performance”. Due to training and skills only gained through years of training Sullenberger landed in the river and all 155 people survived. If only Sully’s pay and pension had been so lucky.

The Employer Free Choice Act

There has been a novel suggestion made to solve the problem of Unions that destroy the companies they work for. A program for the complete management of labor resources has been put forward by the National Right to Work for Less organization. A spokesperson said that after the idea was brought up everyone was amazed that it had taken them so long to arrive at this clearly obvious solution.

The new management initiative for complete management of labor resources for the parts of the American auto industry that have been hardest hit by the Union movement will be the first to see the effects of this new plan.

The program is based on a simple premise. Companies that have been hardest hit by Unions will be required to own their workers.

The spokesperson gave examples of how proper labor management has achieved greatness, the pyramids, and the entertainment industry in the days of the emperors, and the growth of the South into a burgeoning supplier for cotton in the early 1800’s. The “Complete Labor Management” program will allow commercial success to extend the free market principles to humans themselves.

Complete management of labor is the fastest, best, solution to investor losses and the pinnacle goal of free-market theory.

While is some ways the program could be mislabeled slavery, it is explained by the supporters as returning to their “roots”. In the past eight years labor relations have been taken in the direction of less conflict by allowing management to make the decisions unfettered by employees or long term commitments to pay benefits or pensions. We need to simply extend and polish these early improvements to labor relations. Much of the rest of the world including Iran has already taken the lead in these areas and now sees almost no Union conflict. America must not fall behind.

A management system where corporations make all the decisions is the only solution for falling dividends. Today, in American factories, employers must wend their way through a thicket of laws controlling wages, safety, and who they can hire. The only worries a corporation should have is if the employee is productive. Employers can not be saddled with the responsibility of an employee’s health or what they live on after their careers are done.

Rules must be set. If an employee is too sick to work, pregnant, or too old to be productive they should be out the door.

By encouraging employees to remain productive by not relying on an employer (or the government) we will be giving every employee true freedom of choice. They will decide their own destinies.

Further examples of the method at work were given, the late 1800’s success of Oil and Rail Roads. Chinese auto companies are rising stars. Chinese auto workers currently earn a dollar an hour. In each of these cases workers have been freed from labor worries, and management allowed to focus solely on the profitability without interference. In each case tremendous returns on investment have grown the corporations. There is a definite pattern and it can be proven that if it is Good for Unions, it is Bad for business. Bad for Unions, Good for business. The complete implementation of this plan is seen as the logical defense against the Employee Free Choice Act.

Some public sentiment still brands the word slavery with some negative connotations so we are re-branding the initiative as the Employer Free Choice Act. We can stress the benefits to the employee and the economy. The employee is freed from choices and conflicts with management. All their time is productive or the company is freed from the employee.The benefits to the economy have been obvious since the building of the pyramids.

This is what free choice is all about. The employee is freed when they only have to follow orders and management is freed when they can make any choice needed for the good of the corporation.

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February 25th, 2009 Posted by Tom Maher | MSEA, MSEA contract, SEIU, SEIU 1984, SEIU 1989, STATE EMPLOYEES, State lay offs, Thomas Maher, UNIONMAINE, Union Success, msea maine, state employee lay offs | no comments

Buy a house? Do you want to use Visa or Mastercard?

If you have a Union job you are blamed for the collapse. The talk shows say the only way out is to “break the backs of the Unions”. Depressed yet? It gets worse.

Welcome to 2009. You’re out of work, maybe drinking or taking tranquilizers because you may be furloughed, laid off, or foreclosed on. You most likely know someone who is.

You can’t pay your mortgage and you are shamed to look for help. Asking for help will get you labeled a free loader by the right.

Unspoken during the arguments for and against the stimulus package is the fact that we may already be in worst financial collapse in history.

1929 may go down as the first, not the worst great depression.

Credit markets are frozen. The banks are spending our money on bonuses and shareholders. Wall St. has gotten billions to protect profits and they foam at the mouth when the subject of helping homeowners is brought up. “Let ‘em sink!” They made bad choices! The rant is “Why should I help someone that bought more house than they can afford?”

Instead we should ask, why we should help banks that bought more bad assets than they can afford. The right screams mortgage help to homeowners is socialism while they have their hand in our pockets. We keep them in limos and Mansions while losing our homes and our jobs. We pay their losses and we take the blame.

Bad borrower horror stories have made headlines for months, with examples of no income loans given to undocumented workers, and single mothers. The root causes are not discussed. Wall St. shipped our jobs overseas. Oil is at $35.00 a barrel and gas prices are going up. The combination of job loss, stagnant wages, retirement account losses, is killing the middle class, ad in falling home prices, and stir for a drink called toxic assets.

First the Bush Whitehouse helped corporations declare bankruptcy and make retirement funds disappear. They tried to prop up their Ponzi scheme with Social Security. Constant attacks on Unions has lowered the overall wage scale in the US and made employees afraid to speak up. Where is the middle class? They are still here, but their jobs are in China or India or even down the street. being done on an H1B visa. In Maine, State Employees are displaced by contractors costing more than the employee. Real estate tycoons grow rich while State buildings go empty.

So, you have a family of four and you bought a three bedroom with a mortgage you could afford? Wrong! You made a bad choice because you didn’t pay cash or you didn’t save two years of your income as a cushion. Deadbeat!

How bad is it getting? Huge chunks of this country are up for sale because there are no jobs. The pictures of some PA homes on the right speak for themselves. It only took a couple of minutes to find these examples and there are many more in every state. Two or three years ago, these houses would have been on “Flip this house”.The next time you see a lot of these there will be a bulldozer or a fire truck parked on an empty lot. The banks are still making the choice to foreclose and evict rather than deal. Even at these prices there are no buyers. Do these houses look like the McMansions talk shows claim the bad borrowers bought? In Florida you can buy nice homes because retirement incomes were stolen to pay an bonuses and dividends.

I don’t want to end on that note. Remember we elected a President with a slogan of “Yes we Can!” and Yes we can get through this. Don’t believe the right, most of this country has seen through the theft of tax cuts for the rich and wage cuts for the rest. The stimulus passed. Wait for the hypocrisy to show up. Follow the Republican Governors that are talking about turning down the stimulus money. Watching them grab for all they can get while the Republican members of congress give speeches about how much they did to bring home the package should brighten up some of our days to come.

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February 22nd, 2009 Posted by Tom Maher | EFCA, Great Depression, MSEA, MSEA contract, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, SEIU, SEIU 1984, SEIU 1989, UNIONMAINE, msea maine | no comments

It’s Back


It’s back. Want to start your own discussion? Argue with the left or the right? Just click on the link. You can start your own topic or jump in on one. Be careful though, there have been known to be some very intelligent right wingers show up there. They are welcome. I guess they came over after As Maine Goes banned me. Nothing official, just an accidental password erasure and then no answer to repeated emails for a reset. I don’t think they were quite up to a discussion without four letter words. Well here’s two for them —–MSEA SEIU.

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October 12th, 2008 Posted by Tom Maher | Uncategorized | no comments

Tom Allen’s response to the attack ads

We have to keep getting the message out about the E.F.C.A. Passage of the law will ad protections to employees not take away anything.

Picture the poor woman when the big guy comes along and puts his hand down in a threatening manner. Then picture the real words. “If I see you or hear you supporting a Union, you are fired!” That is the intimidation going on. Don’t let Susan Collins ride to another term on lies and her record of being a lap dog for Bush.



CLAIM: “Since 2001, one group has been involved in embezzlement and racketeering, and been the target of more than 2000 criminal investigations, and 600 indictments. Now the same group is planning to expand its power base. Who has this record of corruption and embezzlement? Organized Crime? No. It’s organized labor.”

Organized Labor is NOT Organized Crime.

There Are 67,000 Union Members in Maine. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are approximately 67,000 union members in Maine. Union members in Maine make up over 11 percent of Maine’s workforce. [BLS, 2007]

Employee Freedom Is Targeting Democrats All Over The Country And Has Already Run Ads in Maine.

Employee Freedom Is Affiliated With Center For Union Facts – Both Anti-Labor Groups That Have Been Running Ads In Multiple States. Both anti-labor groups have been running ads in Colorado, Oregon and Maine against Democratic candidates for Senate. [KUSA 9 News, 6/18/08]

Employee Freedom Has Launched Similar Negative Partisan Attacks Against Tom Allen. Last month, Employee Freedom ran full page ads in Maine’s largest newspapers attacking Tom Allen for his support of the Employee Free Choice Act. [PolitickerME, 6/12/08]

CLAIM: “Today labor bosses have a new scheme to target you and your money. They want to change the law to make it easier to pressure you into joining their union. Under their plan, you will lose your right to a private vote. Instead of being able to make your choice about joining a union using a private ballot, union bosses can come to your home to pressure you to make a binding decision to pay dues.”

Employee Free Choice Act DOES NOT Eliminate The Secret Ballot. The Employee Free Choice Act does not take away the ballot-election process. The act adds another option, the majority sign-up process, in which workers seeking to form a union could sign cards indicating their desire to do so. Majority sign-up is much faster than the government-run balloting process and leaves less time for employers to harass and intimidate workers so they will back off from joining a union. [HR 800 text of legislation; WCCO CBS 4, Fact Check Segment, 7/9/08]

The Employee Free Choice Act Has Bi-Partisan Support In Both The House and Senate. The Employee Free Choice Act has bi-partisan support in the Congress – with 46 co-sponsors in the Senate and 233 Representatives in the House. [HR 800, introduced 2/5/07; S 1041, introduced 3/29/07]

Research Shows That 60 Million Americans Would Join A Union If They Could. According to a December 2006 poll, 60 million American workers say they would join a union if they had the option. [AFL-CIO, “The Union Difference: Union Advantage by the Numbers.”]

CLAIM: “Incredibly, they say this is a better process than a private vote.”

Employee Free Choice Act Adds Extra Protection For Workers Seeking To Join A Union. The Employee Free Choice Act would reform the nation’s basic labor laws by requiring employers to recognize a union after a majority of workers sign cards authorizing union representation. It also would provide mediation and arbitration for first-contract disputes and establish stronger penalties for violation of the rights of workers seeking to form unions or negotiate first contracts. [HR 800 text of legislation]

CLAIM: “Tell Tom Allen to stop supporting union schemes to take away private votes at EmployeeFreedom.org.”

Tom Allen Has ALWAYS Supported Protecting The Rights of Workers.

Tom Allen Supported Employee Free Choice Act. Tom Allen voted for the Employee Free Choice Act, which required employers to recognize a union if a majority of the employees sign “authorization cards” for the union. The bill eliminated the current right for employers to require an election as a second step before the union could be recognized, thereby easing the ability of unions to organize workers. Unions contended that many employers demand an election in order to have time to coerce workers to reject the union, while employers maintained that only a secret-ballot election can accurately gauge worker support for unionization. The measure also provided for a first labor contract to be imposed through binding arbitration if the employer and union cannot reach agreement within 120 days. [H.R. 800, Vote #118, 3/1/07; CQ House Action Reports Legislative Week February 26, 2007; Associated Press, 3/1/07]

Tom Allen Voted To Protect Collective Bargaining and Due Process Rights. In 2004, Tom Allen supported an amendment to the Defense Department funding bill that would have prevented the Pentagon from moving ahead with a plan for a new personnel system aimed at streamlining civil service rules and revamping union bargaining rights. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld urged rewriting of the department’s personnel rules arguing that managers needed more freedom over the pay, discipline and deployment of civilian workers in fighting the war on terrorism. Yet the Bush Administration’s own director of the Office of Personnel Management skewered the plan, warning that it diminishes hiring preferences and other protections for veterans and may go too far in replacing collective bargaining with union consultation. The amendment to stop the plan failed 202-218. [HR 4613, Vote #283, 6/22/04; Washington Post, 6/23/04; Washington Post, 5/17/04]

Tom Allen Opposed Bush’s Ability to Deny Homeland Security Employees Right to Unionize. In 2002, Tom Allen voted to give employees the right to unionize if they were included in new homeland security proposal. According to the AFL-CIO, “As part of his homeland security proposal, President George W. Bush insisted on the right to deny collective bargaining rights to the workers slated to become part of the new government department. He threatened to veto any legislation that protected the workers’ current right to unionize. The House passed an amendment to the bill that would expand presidential power to deny employees the right to unionize.” [HR 5005, Vote #358, 7/26/02; 2002 AFL-CIO Scorecard]

Tom Allen Voted Against Legislation That Would Allow Employers To Fire Those Who Sought Union Representation. In 1998, Tom Allen voted against legislation that would allow employers to refuse to hire, or fire, those who sought employment to organize workers to join a union. [HR 3246, Vote #78, 3/26/98]

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September 4th, 2008 Posted by Tom Maher | Employee Free Choice Act, MSEA, Tom Allen | 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

Don’t be afraid of the CAT

This is a guest post from Nan Worcester at DDPC. WE don’t all have to march and rally but if you are not afraid of what is coming look around. You can become a part of a Contract Action Team just by talking to your co-workers and asking them what is important. Do they know any way the State can save money or be more efficient. The first bargaining committee meeting will be held on June 21 and you can still sign up. Call the Union and ask how.

Here’s Nan

Uh oh! Looks like someone in the legislature caught up with me! I thought all I had to worry about was the CAT, but I guess not!

Sad to say, we’ve got some great folks working to improve our benefits…or even just KEEP what we have, but aren’t getting much support. I realize that a lot of you might be like me…rather keep to the background for fear of the cat OR the legislature but there ARE ways you can support your representatives. Telephones, e-mails (from home), letters to your legislature, newspapers, etc.

We need to bait the trap better to make people in this state realize that we aren’t just TAKING from the state but that we provide real and useful services to the people of Maine in order to better all our lives. We need to make our governing body realize that ‘dumbing down’ state employees and their benefits that they’ve worked hard to earn, to make us match up with companies like Wal Mart, where most of their employees are on Maine Care because they aren’t provided decent benefits, is NOT the way to go. Our legislators, both state and federal should be encouraging businesses to provide wages and benefits sufficient for families to live on, not taking away these earned benefits from state employees.

Yes, times are tough…fuel costs, food, utilities, etc., are ALL rising, for all of us (state employees included). It’s sad when writing like this it’s necessary to say ‘state employees included’ all the time, as though we aren’t living, breathing, taxpayers of Maine! Contact your union representative, see how you can help…if you’re a ‘shy mouse’ like me, there are ‘quiet’ ways that you can help. Our Union agreed to early bargaining to help us get a slice of the pie before the legislature apportions it all away and there is nothing left for us except cuts…in our health insurance, no cost-of-living increase, maybe shut-down or furlough days again, but definitely nothing to benefit state employees.

So, before you get caught by one of your legislators who think you earn too much or your benefits are too good (remember, THEY get them too!) do whatever you can to help yourself and other state employees.

Hector, the mouse… !

In Solidarity!

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June 16th, 2008 Posted by Tom Maher | Uncategorized | no comments

If we are so powerful, why aren’t we rich?

If you have seen the ads run by UNIONFACTS.COM you are disgusted, if you have not seen them check them out (on an empty stomach). If you want to know what voting Republican has done for the labor movement and what they want to do read the hatred and the lies at what should be called Lies about Unions.

Duane Lugdon of the United Steel Workers says it best in his letter to WLBZ.

The email for the news director is newsdirector@wlbz2.com

Drop an email and let them know that a news channel is supposed to do public service and not act as a mouthpiece for an anti-labor organazation. Here is Duane’s email to WLBZ.

WLBZ Television
329 Mount Hope Ave.
Bangor, Me. 04401

May 23, 2008

Dear WLBZ Management,
I write today after seeing evidence of the apparent direction WLBZ wants to take here in Maine. On May 22, 2008 WLBZ has run a series of television ads produced by an organization named “UNIONFACTS.COM”.

I have been a leader in the Labor Movement in the State of Maine since 1974. I have been working full time for my International Union, the United Steelworkers, since January of 1993. Our Union represents some 5,000 workers in Maine’s Pulp & Paper Industry, the Sawmill industry, the Heavy Equipment industry, as well as workers in some of the municipal governments, oil distribution businesses and public service workers. We represent over 2500 members in the immediate WLBZ “air” footprint and of course the cable connection spreads the WLBZ presence to many others who do not live in the immediate air footprint.

I do not consider myself to be a “Union thug”, a mafia kingpin, or a gang member as portrayed by “UNIONFACTS.COM”. This organization is one that is an ultra conservative organization dedicated solely to the abolition of Unions in America. It is a political beast and does the bidding of the National Right to Work Foundation and other extremist organizations that seek to destroy the American Labor Movement.

The Maine Labor Movement has worked with the media outlets in Maine whenever important issues have surfaced in our industrial base. I have personally worked with a number of personalities from WLBZ over the years and always found WLBZ to be a responsible player in the local media.

I am insulted and incensed that WLBZ has nothing better to do than broadcast the kind of attacks on Maine workers that the UNIONFACTS.COM platform represents. I do not break the law – - I do not belong in jail – - I do not fleece workers – - and I do not appreciate WLBZ’s embrace of these kinds of attack dog advertisers. I frequently watch WLBZ and I have always enjoyed the WLBZ Fred Nutter Editorial spot. I have noted through the years that WLBZ has been a fair and responsible player in its Editorial Opinion. What has happened now?

Is WLBZ favoring the attack dog mentality represented by UNIONFACTS.COM? Why is WLBZ on the attack against the organizations that try to advance the lives and working conditions for thousands of Mainers?

Does WLBZ recognize what the American Labor Movement has done for our nation’s workforce? I believe it would be advisable for WLBZ to use one of your researchers to “fact-check” the kinds of things that the American Labor Movement has done and the role it has played in the working lives of all Americans. The Holidays we celebrate, the Civil Rights Act, the 40 hour work week, the Social Security Act, and a hundred other ever so important pieces of legislation are all things that have been brought about by the American Labor Movement. American workers, both those who are in Unions and those who are not have been positively affected by the presence of our American Labor Movement.

WLBZ should take a more responsible role in making sure that attack dog advertising is not used here in Maine. This is a place where we honor each other’s right to freedom and liberty. The members of Union’s here in the State of Maine know that they work for better wages and better working conditions than they would without the historical presence of Labor Unions.

If Labor Unions are run to extinction in Maine and our nation who will speak for the working class? Who will insure that the progressive legislation that has made working in America so rewarding for workers at large is going to remain in place?

WLBZ has insulted my character and the character of the Maine Labor Movement by giving UNIONFACTS.COM the time of day. My resentment will continue as long as WLBZ fails to figure out that Maine workers deserve better than the one sided trash represented in this kind of advertising.

Most Sincerely,

Duane Lugdon, International Representative
United Steelworkers International Union
P.O. Box 562
Bradley, Me. 04411

Remember newsdirector@wlbz2.com and let WLBZ know they are wrong.
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May 28th, 2008 Posted by Tom Maher | Uncategorized | no comments