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Is Baldacci planning lay offs?

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Is Baldacci preparing for hundreds of lay offs?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Rumors are flying. Is Governor Baldacci preparing plans to lay off possibly hundreds of state workers? Rumors are that Baldacci has ordered state department heads to prepare plans for layoffs, while he remains closed mouthed.

At the same time contract negotiations over a new contract are reaching a conclusion. The negotiations, started last year have been fouled by a legislature that decided to ignore collective bargaining when they refused to negotiate cuts. The contract Tentative Agreement is going to a vote of the Union Contract Action Team on Monday the 27th. State Employees have tried to be a part of the process for many months both through suggestions for real cost savings and political action.

Millions of dollars of cost savings ideas put forward by State Employees have been ignored while the State refused to allow any Union involvement in government oversight of waste and fraud, claiming the appropriations committee could do it all. The fear in the politician’s eyes is clear every time a State Employee says “We know where the waste is!”

MSEA reached out to the State last year and asked to be part of any discussions around employee pay cuts or benefit reductions. MSEA members know times are tough, we pay taxes, and we offered to save the State tax payer money. Every time we offered to point out the waste, a politician would say no thank you.

The ugly refusal of the legislature to respect collective bargaining has many employees demanding legal action be taken against the State for bargaining in bad faith.

State Employees have accused the governor and the legislature of undermining the negotiations and disrespecting all state employees and all taxpayers when they refused to allow citizens to be part of their so called savings committee.

The continuing refusal by the State to bargain in good faith is a common topic of discussion during Union discussions. It has been a constant disappointment that the Governor and the legislature continue to intimidate workers with the layoff threat. There are responsible solutions to be had, but the State has so far refused to listen to ideas that could save Maine tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars. State Employees know where the waste is, where the political favors are being handed out at the expense of the taxpayer. Unlike the legislature, State Employees are committed to public service, not a political agenda.

The two sides have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract, but the Union has refused to recognize shut down days in formal language as there were never any talks with the Unions only a midnight deal in the appropriations committee with no Union input.

MSEA-SEIU, which represents most state employees, tried to offer savings in order to bargain a guarantee there would be no future layoffs. The combination of attrition and retirement incentives was refused mostly by the right in a knee jerk refusal to offer any benefit to any State Employee, no matter the savings to the taxpayers of Maine.

The union proposed retirement incentives for cost savings, but the State said the retirement ideas would cost the state millions of dollars. The Union offered to be part of a cost savings committee and we were told not to let the door hit us on the way out.

The state’s biennial budget for 2009-2011 plans for about 200 retirements during the July retirement incentive period and allows the Union to negotiate for any “excess” personal savings the Union can identify. This may be the reason the appropriations committee refused to allow State Employees on the savings commission as they are certain to want to hide any monies found and protect their favored private contractors regardless of the cost to the state budget. State Employees, being taxpayers too would have been too likely to publicize the wasteful contracts to political allies and campaign supporters.

The union’s bargaining committee meets Monday to discuss ratification of the proposed contract and whether to send it out for a vote of the membership or to send the negotiations team back to the table. If the contract is sent back to the table the State is almost certain to call an impasse which would result in months of stalemated talks with no contract in place. The legislature found a way around our contract by making the law that came in to effect at the end of the last contract.

If we have a new contract in place it will be much, much harder to bypass an existing contract. Having a contract in place may very well be the least bad of a series of bad choices. Employees continue to be covered by the provisions of the old contract, which expired June 30 and a contract extension that runs until the end of August. Shut down days have already been implemented along with cuts in longevity pay due to the legislative refusal to bargain and instead rely on brute force.

Union members are of many opinions about the best course of action. Stress and tension have been building for months and the latest announcement of an “at least” $80,000,000.00 million dollar budget gap has only added to the strain.



It is time to look at some of the services being done by contractors that could be done by state workers at a lower cost. This would make it a lot easier to cut in the future without all the politics. The State is cutting back, why should private industry be any different?

Some State jobs are 100% federally-funded and the State still wants to cut the jobs and lose the funds that come with those jobs. The right wing doesn’t care about savings. They only want to reduce head count regardless of the cost. Many state employees are partially or fully funded by federal funds.

Stop the welfare, save the budget. How about instead of handing the money out with no question we use some state employees to investigate families collecting when complaints are made. Currently State Employees are told “There is no money for enforcement” or “We would lose Federal dollars”. Get it straight! State Employees don’t hate welfare but they do hate welfare cheats!


Get a job with Wal-Mart and see how long you last without a union. Unions don’t support poor work standards. If you let a company go out of business, you are out of a job. If it wasn’t for the threat of unionization wages would be far lower than they are now. State Workers don’t think they should be immune to the economy but if we have taken cuts instead of lay offs then asking for no more lay offs is only fair.

Why are cleaners being laid off and during a hiring freeze while new management positions are created in the budget at $75,000 a year or better to start? Essential employees must stay home without pay while there are internal job postings for even more management. That is the real insult.

SSDD, Same Shit Different Day. Cut the programs that help people. Why does it always have to be the departments that help people that get cuts? We thought we had a Governor that supported state employees. He gave us a speech promising no furloughs, no unpaid days while he was in office. Lying S.O.B.!

State employees have almost gotten used to being hated.It makes the economy of knuckle dragging radio shows run. State Employees don’t make a fortune and when we were paid far, far, under the private sector we were laughed at as being too dumb to get a real job with real wages. The Staff has been going down for a decade and many employees are now doing the work of several employees.

We couldn’t break a contract to pay AIG executives nearly half a Billion dollars in bonuses for destroying a company because the contract was sacred, yet the legislature can break our contract while trying to find out how to steal the health care and pensions we were promised for 30 years as if asking to be paid what you were promise is a crime.

Jesus hired three men at three different times yet paid them what they were promised, there should be some lesson there for the “moral majority”.

The state budget is out of control because ME’s politicians from both sides of the aisle refuse to produce a list of “essential services” and the real cost associated with those services. In many cases the service is unneeded or could be done cheaper by a State Employee. True costing is not something state employees are afraid of, it is something they are demanding. A true cost basis would cost some jobs but with the firing of wasteful contracting many more would open up.

Cuts should not be made on the basis of head count but on an honest review of costs and need for a particular service. If outsourcing a vital service can save money with out losing efficiency it must be considered. If a State Employee can do the job better and cheaper we should keep or hire a State Employee.

Cut employee pay and benefits and you will save temporarily save some money. You will also see the level of service drop because you will have lost a skilled work force while being unable to attract skilled replacement workers.

Services cost money, and if it costs $100.00 to fix a pot hole, then it costs a $100.00. If you pay less, you will get less, if you want less service and quality a politician will be happy to give you what you want.

The state should listen to suggestions of workers, not management, for cost-saving ideas.
In the worst economy since the Great Depressions, MSEA-SEIU members found cost savings ideas, instead of tax increases or reductions in services. Many on the right and some possible Democrat candidates for Governor were far more interested in publicity than saving Maine’s budget.

Union Employees want to provide quality public services and protect the jobs of our co-workers. These are your neighbors who plow the roads, protect the public, and fix the roads.


It’s bullshit!! Every time I hear “6 people to lean on a shovel” it is really bull shit. Most of the shovel leaners are contractors that buy the same uniforms and paint their trucks the same color as State trucks so their waste will be blamed on State Employees. The employees don’t ask for five friends to help. Management sends five because the more people they manage the more pay they get. Everyone blames the employee. It’s time to look at upper management.

Governor Baldacci didn’t even try to negotiate in good faith. He never offered State Employees the respect of even asking for their help. They sold us out to the Republican head hunters with no regard for the tax payers of Maine. “So what if it costs more!” Cutting State employees and paying more for the same services is always a good idea when you are looking for a consultant job when you leave the legislature.


A lot of consultants are former employees who retire, collect their retirement and then return to the same job in the same agency. The state pays them twice. Get rid of the double dipping mostly former managers if you really want to save $$$$.

Union workers want to help the public and save money. We are the public. We pay taxes. How about BMV? If you asked State Employees they might be willing to shift hours so the public could come in at 6 pm or at 6 am. The trouble is the politicians are afraid to ask State Employees for help. They are afraid we would say yes.

Some people hate Unions. OK, OK, but, state employees aren’t members of Tony Soprano’s family. State Employees are taxpayers and neighbors and make our state run, these cuts will be devastating to them and to our state services. No one else in Maine has been asked to take thousands of dollars of tax increases in a single year.You don’t think the contractors will have to take less money do you?

With State Lay offs more employees get laid off than needed in order to give bragging rights to some politician while he or she ships the work out to a business partner or friend at an inflated price. The contract MSEA-SEIU may get now is not a good contract but the fault is not on the union. The fault is on the legislature that has wasted money for decades while raiding retirement funds and borrowing even in years of surplus.

Union members were not smoking dope and dreaming of pay increases and more benefits. We know this is a rough time and we expected to take a hit. All we ever asked is to be part of the process and to get the respect we deserve.

The state is expecting to save money by having state employees use their vehicles while never increasing the mileage paid. Employees don’t even get what the Feds have determined is the least it takes to run a car. They can’t afford to run the cars but we are supposed to carry the load.

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July 24th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | BALDACCI, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, STATE EMPLOYEES, State lay offs, state employee pay cuts | no comments

Buy your beer and wine now

After returnig from New Hampshire where he was stocking up on beer, wine, and ciggarettes Governor Baldacci issued a new executive order calling for further cuts in the 2007-08 fiscal year in a bold move towards streamlining government.

Among his suggestions is closing the MDOT, laying off all employees and selling all State Highways to corporate bidders. A Republican suggestion to allow all legislators to retire immediately regardless of age with full benefits and a $36,000.00 was hailed by the minority party as helping the economy. To quote a Republican leader “We are in favor of less government, and with a deal like this, a lot of us will quit tomorrow. This is the one suggestion that got both Union and Public support if they promised to stay away.

One story going around has blamed the Democrats for wanting to shorten the sentences of minor drug offenders. The Republicans have shot back with a plan to save even more money.
All criminal offenses will be subject to death penalty if you are found to be a liberal, no appeal, immediate sentencing. Funding the courts will be done on a “pay go” system where if you pay you can go. This is considered simply an extension of corporate deregulation.

Republicans moved to exempt incomes over $350,000.00 form all taxation including excise, sales, income, and bottle deposits. They say they want to build on the successes of the Bush tax cuts.

All funding will be removed from the public defender program in deference to the new “waterboard legal assistance program”. Defendants will be given a fair chance to provide the answers that the court deems necessary. They will know their sentences even before the questioning begins. In the case of trouble makers prosecutors are authorized to keep asking until they get the answers they need. Giving the defendants the answers ahead of time will almost eliminate the need for trials. All defendants that plead guilty before being told the charges will be given a free bright orange “Club Gitmo” Tshirt signed by Rush Limbaugh.

DHHS will no longer take children from parents. Every year there have been two or three mistakes where kids had to be given back.

If this program saves even one child from being removed wrongly from their family, it will be worth it one law maker said.
The governor’s order puts in place a hiring freeze – for all hourly employees, but actually increases funding for upper management due to the increased workload handling lay offs.
The deficit will force all State departments and agencies to shut down except for upper management employees.

Not having to actually provide services for the citizens of Maine will save hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

In other news:

Three Bargaining Units rally for reclass anticipating pay study outcomes.
State stonewalls again
In a preview of things to come, nearly 10 workers in offices participated in worksite actions in support of pay study negotiations.

A Union spokesperson commenting on the large turnout as compared to the usual rallies said “This is the kind of member action we’ll need to prevail in the upcoming contract battle,” In every worksite, in every department, we need to show state officials, legislators and the governor we are united, we are fearless, and we are ready to act.”

More than 3 members picketed and rallied at the SOB, while three or four more work­ers statewide took a five-minute solidarity break, standing up in their offices, or maybe they were just stretching. There is an unproven rumor that two more employees emailed their representatives, but there is no real proof.

Asked about the claims of stalling by the Union a human resources spokesperson was quoted as saying that Union members are being unreasonable if they think an increasing work load, massive increases in the complexity of the jobs, and wages that have fallen behind inflation for years are a justification for a living wage.

If State employees want increases every contract they must first accept a 50% reduction in pay and benefits. They must all become salaried, doing away with overtime. After a fresh start we would have room to start discussing reasonable increases during the next budget, or maybe the one after that, or the one…………………………

PLEASE TAKE THE BARGAINING SURVEY

YOUR IDEAS COUNT.

The first Union Bargaining summit coming up on May 10. All former members of negotiating teams and bargaining committees are invited. Do you think things should be done differently? Have you ever asked why something was done? Show up and make yourself heard.During the bargaining for the 2007-2009 contract your bargaining team found the bargaining survey gave our teams more input and information than had ever been received before. This site and your Union are both collecting ideas now.

Your ideas count!Click Here to take survey Click HERE to see how other members are voting.Interested Union members will be given a chance to be heard and help develop plans before they are sent to the Union Board of Directors for a vote. Please take the first step and take the online survey.

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April 16th, 2008 Posted by narsbars | BALDACCI, MSEA 2008 bargaining survey, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, Maine DOT, Maine State Employees, SEIU 1989, TECHNORATI, msea maine | one comment

Did we get Scrooged?



HERE ARE SOME GREAT IDEAS FOR OUR NEXT CONTRACT.

READ TO THE END FOR THE SURPRISE ENDING


The sections in BOLD ITALICS are what I think are the best ideas.

The AGENCY shall allow the President of the Chapter to attend all AGENCY board meetings without loss of pay or benefits.

Some of the ideas were brought up at the last negotiations and the teams were told they were crazy. The State couldn’t do it, but these are still great ideas. The bold italics are the important point in each paragraph. If you would like some of these, go to the comments at the bottom of the post and leave your comment.

2) Leave with pay for negotiations:

The AGENCY shall, when applicable, grant administrative leave with pay to the incumbent Chapter President and to five (5) additional AGENCY employees designated by MSEA as bargaining team members to participate in collective bargaining sessions or impasse proceedings with AGENCY representatives; such administrative leave shall be considered as time worked for the purpose of computing overtime.


AGENCY employees designated by MSEA as stewards may investigate and process grievances within their designated areas of AGENCY during work hours to a maximum extent of one hundred sixty (160) hours of compensation annually for ten (10) stewards collectively, and such hours shall be considered as time worked for the purpose of computing overtime.

The AGENCY shall grant administrative leave if needed to Stewards for the purposes of attending two (2) steward training sessions per year conducted by MSEA, and such administrative leave will be considered as time worked for the purpose of computing overtime.

ARTICLE 5: COMPENSATION

Twelve and a half Percent raise in three years!!

1) General Salary:

Effective December 25, 2005, the basic wage or salary of each employee covered by this agreement shall be increased by three and three quarter’s percent (3.75%) per hour.

Effective December 31, 2006 the basic wage or salary of each employee covered by this agreement shall be increased by three and one-half percent (3.5%) per hour.

c) Effective December 30, 2007, the basic wage or salary of each employee covered by this agreement shall be increased by five and one-quarter percent (5.25%) per hour.

4) Call out:

a) An employee who is called out before or after his/her regular working hours or on a scheduled day off other than a holiday, shall earn a minimum of four (4) hours time which shall be paid on the basis of straight time if he/she is not in overtime status and on the basis of overtime if he/she is in overtime status.

5) Overtime:

All employees shall be paid at the rate of one and one half (1 1/2) times the hourly rate of pay for time worked in excess of forty (40) hours in any week.

c) All employees shall be paid at the rate of one and one half (1 1/2) times the hourly rate of pay for time worked in excess of eight (8) hours in any one work day.

7) Holiday Work:

An employee performing work on a holiday on a straight time basis (having at the time of such performance not worked forty (40) hours in the work week) will be paid at the rate of his/her regular hourly pay times two (2) for each hour of work on a holiday.

An employee performing work on a holiday who is in overtime status (having at the time of such performance worked forty (40) hours during the workweek) will be paid at the rate of his/her regular hourly pay times two and one half (2-1/2) for each hour of work on the holiday.

An employee called out to perform work shall earn a minimum of four (4) hours of time which, together with time actually worked in excess of four (4) hours on such holiday, shall be paid, if he/she is on straight time basis, at the rate his/her regular hourly pay times two (2) for each hour, and if on overtime basis, at the rate of his/her regular hourly pay times two and one half (2 1/2) for each hour.

e) The foregoing compensation shall be in addition to regular holiday pay.

8) Shift Differentials:

A shift employee working any hours between 4:00 p.m. and 12:00 midnight shall be paid a differential of fifty cents ($.50) per hour in addition to the straight time or overtime hourly rate.

Effective December 30, 2007, this differential shall be increased to sixty cents ($.60) per hour.

A shift employee working any hours between 12:00 midnight and 8:00 a.m. shall be paid a differential of seventy cents ($.70) per hour in addition to the straight time or overtime hourly rate.

Effective December 30, 2007, this differential shall be increased to ninety ($.90) per hour.


Telephone Expenses

The AGENCY shall pay ten dollars ($10.00) monthly towards the basic monthly telephone bill for all employees covered by this agreement who are subject to call-out, except those whom the AGENCY has issued cellular phones at AGENCY expense.

SICK TME AND VACATION TIME BUY BACK. I KNOW THE STATE SAYS IT COULN’T BE DONE BUT WHAT IF?

10) Unused Sick Leave:

The AGENCY will compensate employees for the surrender of certain unused sick leave, at the employee’s request, under the following conditions:


The employee must have at least ninety-six (96) hours of unused sick leave accrued as of November 30, after which date the employee may surrender any unused sick hours in excess of ninety-six (96).

The AGENCY shall compensate the employee with a payment equal to seventy-five percent (75%) of the employee’s regular, hourly wage for those hours surrendered, which payment shall be made by December 15.

11) Unused Vacation Leave:

An employee may surrender unused vacation hours and receive regular hourly wages for those hours surrendered.

ARTICLE xx: HEALTH INSURANCE

For employees who became full-time employees prior to December 25, 2005, the AGENCY shall pay the full premium for employees and dependents health insurance coverage.

Employees who become full-time employees on or after December 25, 2005:

Will contribute fifteen (15%) percent of the difference between the total insurance premium for health insurance coverage for the full-time employee and his/her dependents


and the premium for employee-only coverage, if the employee enrolls his/her dependents in the health insurance program.

The AGENCY shall pay the full premium for employee-only coverage and eighty-five (85%) percent of the cost of the dependent portion of coverage.

Effective December 30, 2007, all full-time employees will contribute fifteen (15) percent of the difference between the total insurance premium for health insurance coverage for the full-time employee and his/her dependents and the premium for employee-only coverage, if the full-time employee enrolls his/her dependents in the health insurance program.

Any employee with dependents eligible for coverage who elects to waive health insurance coverage for all or some eligible dependents, shall receive an annual payment equal to the amount of three (3) months of the difference between the health insurance premiums paid by the AGENCY for such coverage and the amount paid by the AGENCY for the lesser coverage elected by the employee.


HOW ABOUT THE STATE PAYS OUR MEDICAL DEDUCTIBLES?

Effective December 30, 2007, the AGENCY will reimburse deductibles that are paid pursuant to the provisions of STATE-provided health insurance coverage for calendar year 2008 by employees who are enrolled in dependent plan coverage as of December 30, 2007, provided that the total amount of such reimbursements by the AGENCY shall not exceed Sixty Thousand ($60,000.00) Dollars, and provided further that no such reimbursements shall be made to employees who have funds available for payment of such deductibles in any flexible spending account or under other health insurance coverage.


AUTOMATICALLY ALLOWED TO USE VACATION WHEN SICK IS EXHAUSTED

It is understood that an employee may, upon the exhaustion of his/her accumulated sick leave, attach his/her accumulated vacation time thereto on a consecutive daily basis.

Vacation, almost the Same, but better!

Any hours in excess of these limits will be paid out to the employee by the last payroll period of any calendar year. We would not have to use it or lose it!

7) Bereavement Leave

Each employee covered by this Agreement, shall be allowed up to:

Five (5) days of leave with full pay for the death of the employee’s spouse or significant other, as defined in Section 3, Sick Leave, children, parents, stepparents and stepchildren.

Three (3) days of leave with full pay for the death of the employee’s brothers, stepbrothers, sisters, stepsisters, guardian, grandparents, grandchildren, wards, parents of the spouse, grandparents of the spouse, brothers and sisters of the spouse.


In addition to the above, one (1) day of leave with pay shall be allowed for the death of the employee’s aunt or uncle.

In addition to the foregoing, up to three (3) days of sick leave may be used for travel or funeral arrangements.



If they would only pay for licences!

12) The AGENCY shall reimburse employees for the cost of their required licenses: Oil/gas burner’s license, Electrician’s license, and State of Maine vehicle inspection license and other classes where a specific license is required.


ARTICLE 28: PROFESSIONAL AND TECHNICAL EMPLOYEES

Professional and technical employees shall be reimbursed by the AGENCY for tuition paid for advanced courses in their field taken while in the employ of the AGENCY provided that prior approval to take such course shall have been obtained from the AGENCY and provided that the employee shall have met the requirements of the agency offering the course for satisfactory completion thereof.

Wellness Program anyone?

The AGENCY will reimburse an employee up to One Hundred ($100.00) Dollars per year,

subject to required Federal and State tax withholdings, upon the submittal of a Wellness

Benefit Request form accompanied with a paid invoice to the Human Resources Department

for approved Wellness Programs.

These programs will be run by outside organizations

No, I was not smoking anything to want these benefits in our contracts. I just want these benefits that were in the last Turnpike Authority Contract. These are all excerpts from the last MTA contract.


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October 8th, 2007 Posted by narsbars | ATTACK ON UNIONS, BALDACCI, MSEA, MSEASEIU, UNIONMAINE | no comments