UnionMaine

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We have lost a Friend

Members of SEIU 1989 recently lost one of their own. One of our long term field reps, one of the best, was hired by our the State’s Human Resources Dept, A.K.A. “The Dark Side”, the same group your negotiations team and your stewards sit across the table from. Someone who knows how we think, what we were talking about this contract year, has now joined the dark side and taken his knowledge of our plans with him.

While he won’t be working for us I know he won’t be giving up our secrets just to get ahead. This guy has honor and I trust him. In this case we don’t have a problem. Our ex rep will probably be one of the “good guys” in HR and he will know when we are right as we defend our members and our contract.

The issue is, his years of skill will be put to work to defeat our members in grievances and job actions. He did his best for us, and he will do his best for HR, his best is damn good!

That worries me. I liked this rep, he did great work for members in the past, but I have to ask, how long the recruitment dance has been going on for, under cover, without MSEASEIU staff being aware. Is it only this rep or have they made an approach to other SEIU staff?
While thinking about offers, can a rep focus on representing our members? Will they worry they might do something that could kill the job offer? Do our members get the representation they need when staff is being solicited? Work done for our members after a job is sought or offered is done under conflict of interest.

We won’t have an enemy in HR this time, possibly even a friend, but what about the next time and the time after that?
We have to know why someone would take an offer like this and we need to prevent it in the future.

Our board of directors should take action to prevent this hostile raiding in the future. Our members deserve to receive representation without divided loyalties. Is this betrayal or did the State just make an offer he couldn’t refuse? Maybe the State is paying more.

SEIU employees have NO retirement, and from what I have seen, when they are working for us, they have no lives except the Union. To retire they have to save for themselves and I can only imagine what has happened to their plans in the last few months. It can’t be good.

Maybe the benefits that field rep helped us win in the past are better than the SEIU provides employees. Maybe the reality of having to live and feed your family overcame any dedication to Labor Rights. There are many reasons why someone changes jobs. Money, family, health care, retirement, or just a more interesting job.

The worst scenario is if our Rep. looked around, heard things, and decided he wanted be a winner. Did he hear something from the other side while being recruited that made him think he was on the losing side?
We think we know what we are losing. What is HR gaining? The rep has helped to plan our bargaining in the past.
He knows how we think and what we would use to win a contract or win a grievance. He knew some of our bargaining priorities and strategies for this year. He will never give up our private information, the real danger is brain drain, our reps know how we think, and we are hurt when we lose someone with his skills, abilities, and historical knowledge.

Human Resources, might see him rightly or wrongly as an ace in the hole, a resource they can use to counter our stewards, our bargaining teams, or just to break our spirit. That rep is lost to us, but we cannot let this continue! We don’t know why he left or what they offered him. We can plan for the future. It is time to let the reps still working for us know that we are grateful for their years of service and all the help they have given our members. We can’t let one incident change our opinion of this great bunch of men and women, that don’t have many of the benefits they have helped us win for ourselves.

O.K. it is a lousy situation but how do we fix it? Both Unions and Business have known two ways to protect themselves from hostile knowledge raiders for decades: pay them more and have a Non-Compete Clause. We have lost a lot of staff recently and we have trouble attracting field reps to Maine. The MSEASEIU rep pay scale may seem good on the raw numbers but in the same way we compare our salaries to other states you need to compare rep salaries to other states. MSEASEIU rep pay is significantly lower and comes with reduced benefits in Maine, how else could the State or even other Unions hire our staff even in this economy?

The second method, a non-compete clause, has become more common in some contracts especially when it protects “secrets” or information that could unfairly advantage the entity hiring an insider.
No one would want to prevent someone from making a living in their field of expertise. You don’t want to lock them in to one job and have a miserable employee. It is immoral to prevent someone from finding another job.
What would be wrong with an agreement preventing an SEIU employee from taking an HR position with any company, in Maine, employing members represented by MSEASEIU? You could make it easier by limiting the restriction to only a year.
I don’t know what the staff contract says or doesn’t say on non-compete. But it certainly looks like something needing investigation.

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April 11th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Executive Branch Bargaining, MSEA, MSEA contract, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, state employee lay offs | one comment

Elected NUHW Stewards being removed from office by SEIU

I am not taking any sides, I try to present the story in the old way, the facts should speak for themselves. You the reader, are the best judge.

The SEIU is “firing” Stewards and Member contract specialists, elected by their members, from elected office.

The members of the UHW have had card signings at over three hundred sites and voted overwhelmingly to leave the SEIU. They want to form the New UHW, but since NLRB rules don’t allow a decertification petition until just before a contract expiry, they can not decertify until 2010 there is no legal NUHW even if a hundred thousand members think they belong to a new Union.

I don’t think this is going away, California Union members are “fired up, and ready to go” it looks as if they are gearing up for the long haul.

This is not going to come out well for organized labor unless both sides talk. From this side of the country it looks like the members of UHW have been trying for a long time. It takes two sides both willing to listen to make a deal. This is all about Andy Stern, can he lead? Can he forge unity or simply try to force compliance?



In California the war between the SEIU and the as yet unrecognized NUHW continues. Stewards are being removed for disagreeing with the appointed heads of their SEIU local.

Many won’t agree but stewards, when elected, agree not to act against their Union, agree not to promote another Union or to act against their Union. Like it or not, the SEIU is currently the legal bargaining agent and has the right to remove stewards for actions against the SEIU.

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April 2nd, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Executive Branch Bargaining, SEIU, SEIU 1989, Stewards, decertify, member apathy, nuhw | 9 comments

Success or Failure?


What is happening around the Unions and around the nation? Are Unions succeeding or failing?

California has a very active membership that attends meetings, goes to rallies, and supports their Union loudly and persistently with the legislature and in the press. They have just finished negotiations during the worst economy California has seen in over seventy years. What did they lose and what did they hold on to? Is this a crystal ball for what is happening in Maine or could we do better or worse?

California SEIU 1000, the states largest employee union negotiated for nine months during the worst economic times in over seventy years. SEIU Local 1000 and the State reached a tentative agreement Saturday night covers 95,000 state employees until June 30, 2010.

The TA will be sent to the union’s elected State Bargaining Advisory Council; which serves the same purpose as MSEA-SEIU’s Contract Action Team where if passed it will be put to a vote of all SEIU 1000 members. The agreement must also be approved by the state Legislature and signed by the governor.

SEIU 1000 went in to negotiations during bad times that only worsened while they talked. CaliforniaCalifornia like Maine State employees provide critical services that must be maintained to keep citizens safe and healthy. Like Maine the governator, no matter how powerful just can’t say there are no emergencies on specific days. Unlike California Maine has always forced State employees when taking furloughs to rotate them in an attempt to hide from the public the impact on State services. California had the courage even on the State side to move to close offices for furlough days, arguably saving far more money.

When negotiations concluded, there were sacrifices on both sides. The State made concessions they did not want to make and so did the Union.

Major provisions of the Tentative Agreement include: now has a forty billion dollar hole to fill and the governor intended to fill it with State employees. In

  1. Reducing the governor’s demand for two unpaid furlough days per month to eight hours monthly. Two days could have forced employees working ten hour days to take ten or twenty hours off a month.
  2. The tentative agreement improved the state’s layoff procedures and guarantees layoffs only when departments are eliminated or when facilities or offices are closed.
  3. Two holidays, Lincoln’s Birthday and Columbus Day were traded for two personal holidays, which are similar to vacation days. State offices will be open for normal business and employees who work on those days will no longer receive overtime pay.
  4. Overtime costs will also be reduced under this agreement; an employee who uses a sick day cannot receive overtime in the same week until they have worked a full 40 hours. Vacation time continues to count towards the forty hours requirement.
  5. Unlike Maine, SEIU 1000 negotiates health care and in a successful fight against a money grab, the state agreed with Local 1000’s proposal to freeze employee contributions for health insurance at 2008 levels though 2010.
  6. The tentative agreement will increase career enhancement options by creating a Joint Labor-Management Trust to continuing education and professional development for Local 1000-represented employees.


Unlike California we are now in talks with the State after the stimulus bill has passed. What effect the money coming to Maine will have is impossible to say at this time, but it can only have a positive influence.
Tune in tomorrow for a close up look at N.H. They compromised on Health Care two years ago. Was it a success?



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February 18th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Executive Branch Bargaining, MSEA, MSEA Dues, MSEA ELECTIONS, MSEA contract, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, Maine State Employees, Maine Turnpike Authority, SEIU 1989, msea maine | no comments

Will you click for your Health Care?




Click On The Cartoon For A Full Size Version

Negotiations Update

Updated February 7

  • The 16 elected members of Local 1989’s Executive Branch negotiating team—representing four bargaining units—have been working long hours both on the clock and on their own time to bring a comprehensive package of proposals to the table.
  • Many obstacles could make reaching a settlement difficult:
  1. The rapidly deteriorating national economy, a current State deficit of nearly a billion dollars, political attacks on State Employees.
  2. The governor’s demands for cuts in employee health care and extensive layoffs, plus cuts in departmental funding.
  3. A Governor and Legislature unable to compromise over revenue increases and program cuts.

  • This is the storm swirling around your negotiators while they have held worksite meetings, polled members, and held discussions with Local 1989 leaders and activists from all parts of the state. They are using your input and matching it against the darkening picture of the State budget and the governor’s seeming willingness to sacrifice State employees in the name of good publicity and bad fiscal policy. Your negotiators are still developing comprehensive proposals. At this time there is an air of mutual respect at the table and both sides realize the seriousness of the times.

Will the State propose?

  • Furloughs?
  • Decreased protections against layoffs?
  • A loss of Union Protections?
  • Benefit Cuts?

We don’t know what they have in mind yet, and I can not publish what strategies or specific proposals your teams have agreed on. You don’t send your playbook to the other team before the game. Your teams are prepared and have read and discussed every single proposal, coalition and team specific. Every idea, every member has been heard, and now is the time when you can help.

Your Health Care, by law, can not be negotiated. Your Health Care is in the hands of the legislature.


Go to the MSEASEIU web site, read this story on the attacks on our healthcare or click on this link to send an email to the appropriations committee, and tell them that attacking State employee Health care is only a political move and breaks the State’s promise to all of it’s employees.


I have included part of my letter to the appropriations committee, possibly the most powerful decision makers in the State.

Dear Senator Diamond, Representative Cain, and members of the Appropriations Committee:

I have appeared before your committee in the past and offered savings to help the State budget. The suggestions have always fallen on deaf ears. Perhaps my ideas did not have merit, but from the ideas of thousands of State Employees there must be many excellent ideas. If you listen, we will “show you the money”.

As legislators you must judge your course by public input but I beg you not to feed the radical pundits who feel that all State problems could be solved by cutting State employee pay and benefits. Considering the committee you are on, you know better.

Please don’t allow a tax on only one small number of Maine citizens. State employees and their families are your constituents, not a handy distraction to throw the press. The last thing we need is higher health care costs. I am respectfully urging you to oppose the Governor’s proposal to shift more health insurance costs onto state workers.

There should be only one health plan for all state workers. That’s the Maine way. (If you would tax me, I ask you to share the pain and

We know that savings must be found wherever they are, but the State Employee Health Commission is the best body to decide how to cut if cuts are needed. Please have the State Employee Health Commission decide not the press.

Thank you for your time and consideration on this important matter.

Thomas Maher

.




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February 7th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Executive Branch Bargaining, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, Maine State Employees, Rod Hiltz, SEIU 1989, Thomas Maher, UNIONMAINE, furlough days | no comments

Will you click for your Health Care?




Click On The Cartoon For A Full Size Version

Negotiations Update

Updated February 7

  • The 16 elected members of Local 1989’s Executive Branch negotiating team—representing four bargaining units—have been working long hours both on the clock and on their own time to bring a comprehensive package of proposals to the table.
  • Many obstacles could make reaching a settlement difficult:
  1. The rapidly deteriorating national economy, a current State deficit of nearly a billion dollars, political attacks on State Employees.
  2. The governor’s demands for cuts in employee health care and extensive layoffs, plus cuts in departmental funding.
  3. A Governor and Legislature unable to compromise over revenue increases and program cuts.

  • This is the storm swirling around your negotiators while they have held worksite meetings, polled members, and held discussions with Local 1989 leaders and activists from all parts of the state. They are using your input and matching it against the darkening picture of the State budget and the governor’s seeming willingness to sacrifice State employees in the name of good publicity and bad fiscal policy. Your negotiators are still developing comprehensive proposals. At this time there is an air of mutual respect at the table and both sides realize the seriousness of the times.

Will the State propose?

  • Furloughs?
  • Decreased protections against layoffs?
  • A loss of Union Protections?
  • Benefit Cuts?

We don’t know what they have in mind yet, and I can not publish what strategies or specific proposals your teams have agreed on. You don’t send your playbook to the other team before the game. Your teams are prepared and have read and discussed every single proposal, coalition and team specific. Every idea, every member has been heard, and now is the time when you can help.

Your Health Care, by law, can not be negotiated. Your Health Care is in the hands of the legislature.


Go to the MSEASEIU web site, read this story on the attacks on our healthcare or click on this link to send an email to the appropriations committee, and tell them that attacking State employee Health care is only a political move and breaks the State’s promise to all of it’s employees.


I have included part of my letter to the appropriations committee, possibly the most powerful decision makers in the State.

Dear Senator Diamond, Representative Cain, and members of the Appropriations Committee:

I have appeared before your committee in the past and offered savings to help the State budget. The suggestions have always fallen on deaf ears. Perhaps my ideas did not have merit, but from the ideas of thousands of State Employees there must be many excellent ideas. If you listen, we will “show you the money”.

As legislators you must judge your course by public input but I beg you not to feed the radical pundits who feel that all State problems could be solved by cutting State employee pay and benefits. Considering the committee you are on, you know better.

Please don’t allow a tax on only one small number of Maine citizens. State employees and their families are your constituents, not a handy distraction to throw the press. The last thing we need is higher health care costs. I am respectfully urging you to oppose the Governor’s proposal to shift more health insurance costs onto state workers.

There should be only one health plan for all state workers. That’s the Maine way. (If you would tax me, I ask you to share the pain and

We know that savings must be found wherever they are, but the State Employee Health Commission is the best body to decide how to cut if cuts are needed. Please have the State Employee Health Commission decide not the press.

Thank you for your time and consideration on this important matter.

Thomas Maher

.




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February 7th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Executive Branch Bargaining, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, Maine State Employees, Rod Hiltz, SEIU 1989, Thomas Maher, UNIONMAINE, furlough days | no comments

Will you click for your Health Care?




Click On The Cartoon For A Full Size Version

Negotiations Update

Updated February 7

  • The 16 elected members of Local 1989’s Executive Branch negotiating team—representing four bargaining units—have been working long hours both on the clock and on their own time to bring a comprehensive package of proposals to the table.
  • Many obstacles could make reaching a settlement difficult:
  1. The rapidly deteriorating national economy, a current State deficit of nearly a billion dollars, political attacks on State Employees.
  2. The governor’s demands for cuts in employee health care and extensive layoffs, plus cuts in departmental funding.
  3. A Governor and Legislature unable to compromise over revenue increases and program cuts.

  • This is the storm swirling around your negotiators while they have held worksite meetings, polled members, and held discussions with Local 1989 leaders and activists from all parts of the state. They are using your input and matching it against the darkening picture of the State budget and the governor’s seeming willingness to sacrifice State employees in the name of good publicity and bad fiscal policy. Your negotiators are still developing comprehensive proposals. At this time there is an air of mutual respect at the table and both sides realize the seriousness of the times.

Will the State propose?

  • Furloughs?
  • Decreased protections against layoffs?
  • A loss of Union Protections?
  • Benefit Cuts?

We don’t know what they have in mind yet, and I can not publish what strategies or specific proposals your teams have agreed on. You don’t send your playbook to the other team before the game. Your teams are prepared and have read and discussed every single proposal, coalition and team specific. Every idea, every member has been heard, and now is the time when you can help.

Your Health Care, by law, can not be negotiated. Your Health Care is in the hands of the legislature.


Go to the MSEASEIU web site, read this story on the attacks on our healthcare or click on this link to send an email to the appropriations committee, and tell them that attacking State employee Health care is only a political move and breaks the State’s promise to all of it’s employees.


I have included part of my letter to the appropriations committee, possibly the most powerful decision makers in the State.

Dear Senator Diamond, Representative Cain, and members of the Appropriations Committee:

I have appeared before your committee in the past and offered savings to help the State budget. The suggestions have always fallen on deaf ears. Perhaps my ideas did not have merit, but from the ideas of thousands of State Employees there must be many excellent ideas. If you listen, we will “show you the money”.

As legislators you must judge your course by public input but I beg you not to feed the radical pundits who feel that all State problems could be solved by cutting State employee pay and benefits. Considering the committee you are on, you know better.

Please don’t allow a tax on only one small number of Maine citizens. State employees and their families are your constituents, not a handy distraction to throw the press. The last thing we need is higher health care costs. I am respectfully urging you to oppose the Governor’s proposal to shift more health insurance costs onto state workers.

There should be only one health plan for all state workers. That’s the Maine way. (If you would tax me, I ask you to share the pain and

We know that savings must be found wherever they are, but the State Employee Health Commission is the best body to decide how to cut if cuts are needed. Please have the State Employee Health Commission decide not the press.

Thank you for your time and consideration on this important matter.

Thomas Maher

.




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February 7th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Executive Branch Bargaining, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, Maine State Employees, Rod Hiltz, SEIU 1989, Thomas Maher, UNIONMAINE, furlough days | no comments

Will you click for your Health Care?




Click On The Cartoon For A Full Size Version

Negotiations Update

Updated February 7

  • The 16 elected members of Local 1989’s Executive Branch negotiating team—representing four bargaining units—have been working long hours both on the clock and on their own time to bring a comprehensive package of proposals to the table.
  • Many obstacles could make reaching a settlement difficult:
  1. The rapidly deteriorating national economy, a current State deficit of nearly a billion dollars, political attacks on State Employees.
  2. The governor’s demands for cuts in employee health care and extensive layoffs, plus cuts in departmental funding.
  3. A Governor and Legislature unable to compromise over revenue increases and program cuts.

  • This is the storm swirling around your negotiators while they have held worksite meetings, polled members, and held discussions with Local 1989 leaders and activists from all parts of the state. They are using your input and matching it against the darkening picture of the State budget and the governor’s seeming willingness to sacrifice State employees in the name of good publicity and bad fiscal policy. Your negotiators are still developing comprehensive proposals. At this time there is an air of mutual respect at the table and both sides realize the seriousness of the times.

Will the State propose?

  • Furloughs?
  • Decreased protections against layoffs?
  • A loss of Union Protections?
  • Benefit Cuts?

We don’t know what they have in mind yet, and I can not publish what strategies or specific proposals your teams have agreed on. You don’t send your playbook to the other team before the game. Your teams are prepared and have read and discussed every single proposal, coalition and team specific. Every idea, every member has been heard, and now is the time when you can help.

Your Health Care, by law, can not be negotiated. Your Health Care is in the hands of the legislature.


Go to the MSEASEIU web site, read this story on the attacks on our healthcare or click on this link to send an email to the appropriations committee, and tell them that attacking State employee Health care is only a political move and breaks the State’s promise to all of it’s employees.


I have included part of my letter to the appropriations committee, possibly the most powerful decision makers in the State.

Dear Senator Diamond, Representative Cain, and members of the Appropriations Committee:

I have appeared before your committee in the past and offered savings to help the State budget. The suggestions have always fallen on deaf ears. Perhaps my ideas did not have merit, but from the ideas of thousands of State Employees there must be many excellent ideas. If you listen, we will “show you the money”.

As legislators you must judge your course by public input but I beg you not to feed the radical pundits who feel that all State problems could be solved by cutting State employee pay and benefits. Considering the committee you are on, you know better.

Please don’t allow a tax on only one small number of Maine citizens. State employees and their families are your constituents, not a handy distraction to throw the press. The last thing we need is higher health care costs. I am respectfully urging you to oppose the Governor’s proposal to shift more health insurance costs onto state workers.

There should be only one health plan for all state workers. That’s the Maine way. (If you would tax me, I ask you to share the pain and

We know that savings must be found wherever they are, but the State Employee Health Commission is the best body to decide how to cut if cuts are needed. Please have the State Employee Health Commission decide not the press.

Thank you for your time and consideration on this important matter.

Thomas Maher

.




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February 7th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Executive Branch Bargaining, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, Maine State Employees, Rod Hiltz, SEIU 1989, Thomas Maher, UNIONMAINE, furlough days | no comments

Bargaining Update.


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On Friday the Governor will announce his budget plans and we will see what the impact on State employees may be. Remember “the governor proposes” and “the legislature disposes”.

No matter what comes up tomorrow, nothing is final until the legislature weighs in. In 2008 we worked harder than ever and succeeded in electing law makers that are more willing to listen to labor.

The Executive Branch Negotiations teams met on Thursday and will meet with the State team on Friday. We will be presenting some general ideas and reminding the State that even in these times of challenges and economic problems we are part of the process and our members must be respected.

On Friday the negotiations team will be presenting a suggested schedule of meeting dates with the State and we will be discussing how many days both sides feel we may need to arrive at a contract. We will let the State know that we are serious and we will take the time needed to get this done.

On Saturday January 10 the teams will meet with the C.A.T. (Contract Action Team) members to bring them up to date and discuss the issues and proposals that have been collected.

The C.A.T. members will let the team members know what they have heard from their coworkers and make recommendations on priorities.

There will be some interesting discussions over what the best possible contract looks like in this economy.

Every member of every team determined to do the most good for the most members. We have all promised to do whatever is needed and to stay as long as we have to. No matter how tough things get, at least we don’t have John and Sarah.

And here is what is happening in California:

Local 1000 Tells California how to save the state $370 million
State says, ‘No exemptions from furloughs’

The California Local 1000 bargaining team met with the the State negotiators and offered a package of proposals that would save the state hundreds of millions of dollars.

Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker said “Our members are suffering just like all Californians. Our proposals are designed to reduce that pain.” The proposals included more than $370 million in savings over two years and include:

1) A voluntary reduced work week program of 5 percent, 10 percent or 20 percent.

2) A golden handshake for state workers willing to take early retirement.

3) Converting two state holidays – Lincoln’s Birthday and Columbus Day – for two additional personal holidays.

The State has taken a position that says no one will be exempt from furloughs, but that certain revenue generating departments would be exempt from layoffs.

California follows a bargaining strategy of a Master table and Unit negotiations that is similar to the last contract negotiations in Maine where we had coalition bargaining and small table talks.

January 9th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | EFCA, Executive Branch Bargaining, MSEA, MSEA contract, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, Maine State Employees, SEIU, SEIU 1989, STATE EMPLOYEES, State lay offs, TECHNORATI, Thomas Maher, UNIONMAINE | no comments

If the MSEA-SEIU was in Canada



If the MSEA-SEIU was a Canadian Union we Couldn’t be blackmailed. Make no mistake about it, we are blackmailed every time we negotiate a contract.

Unions across the United States have made mistakes while bargaining contracts. Short term decisions, a raise this year, $50.00 for tools, or a night shift premium have contributed to our present crisis.


In the short term each goal was a good idea and helped some or all employees. The disaster of working only for short term goals was predicted in the 1940’s by Walter P. Reuther, one of America’s great labor leaders, president the United Automobile Workers union (UAW) between 1946 and 1970. Reuther’s early call for universal health was his one failure. Reuther built the UAW and foresaw the cost health care for Union members would make those benefits a target for cuts and attacks on Union members in the future. He built the UAW but sadly failed to get other Unions on board. In the early years the Unions saw health care as a Union benefit, something to be used as a recruiting tool to gain members.


Short term thinking was the norm up until the 1990’s when the full implications of the anti-Union Reagan and Bush administrations started to have the effect the right was looking for: Unions became weaker, but while becoming weaker they were forced to look to the long term and think about health care for all, retirement for all because they were becoming the targets that Reuther had prophesied.


In Maine Union negotiations for short term goals alone are not responsible for putting us where the legislature is able use the threat of cutting our health care as a club to force contract concessions rather than negotiate fairly.


Unions are not to blame for a collapsing stock market, the housing market and the loss of over $12 trillion dollars in home equity and investments. This depression has killed consumer spending.


UAW workers don’t earn $72.00 an hour, they earn nearly the same and in some cases less than non-union plants.

State employees don’t get cost of living raises, but all these lies make reaching a fair contract more challenging.


Auto industry management, Bush deregulation, and Wall Street greed have put our Union and the State of Maine in the same place. A place where we can fight with each other or work together for the common good.


Where once a good job with benefits allowing a worker to provide for a family was seen as an honest goal, now the right paints anyone working for more than minimum wage as greedy.


At the same time an auto worker or a State employee is painted as greedy the right wingnuts have been screaming for tax cuts for the rich, bankruptcy for the airlines to break Union contracts, and they tried to get their hands on Social Security.


The Unions are not to blame for a dysfunctional, profit driven health care system in the U.S. If we operated under and paid the same as the Canadian system, Maine could be many millions of dollars if not hundreds of millions of dollars ahead of where it is now.


The companies in Canada still pay some dollars towards employee benefits but the the savings for health care could be as much as 50%, putting them in line with costs in Canada.


No government would ever use all of the savings wisely, but some of the savings would still go to workers as higher wages and to taxpayers as lower taxes.


Maine is also picking up part of the tab for many spouses and dependent children. The taxpayer would not have to carry health care costs in a Canadian model health care system.


Taxpayers would have the same health care as State employees and we would no longer be targets for having what everyone deserves.


Even with these additional savings Maine would still be facing serious problems. The Politicians have made a string of bad choices by putting off road repairs, stealing from pension funds, and betting the future on ever rising home prices that would bring in ever higher property taxes.

This is one of the most important contracts we have ever negotiated. It will be a tragedy if the example of good jobs with good benefits is made to to disappear through a depression caused by greed and crooked financial dealings of Wall Street, Reagan, Bush senior and George Bush.


For the most part the legislature is not bad, they don’t hate Unions or State employees, but the situation is made worse by virtue of the fact that most legislators are looking for the easy way out. State employees paychecks are the easy way out.


The public thinks we get cost of living raises every year and raises every year. In one online forum they scream that we should only get a raise equal to the Consumer Price index. I wish! If we had gotten that size raise for the last six years we would have averaged 4% per year, not the 2% per year we actually received.


The public isn’t told that State employees have in effect been taking pay cuts every year for over a decade earning less than inflation and still taking cuts in benefits.


Maine is partially in this disaster due to legislators who are wealthy, and unable to understand where their spending habits have put the State, the taxpayers, and the employees who serve them.


While the appropriations committee was cutting funds for foster children last year one legislator stood in a public hearing and asked me if no one had ever told me that State promises are no good. He was looking for a laugh and thought he was funny. So many of them do not understand what it is to work for a living.

We worry about possible demands that Union members give up previously negotiated wages and benefits while some legislators refuse to listen to ideas that could save the taxpayers millions. The Union and the legislature must start adopting the long view.


They don’t feel the damage they are doing because Maine has a part time legislature and for the most part only those who can afford a legislators chump change salary can serve. They just don’t understand.


As Union members look at their paychecks and wonder if they will be smaller next year, if they will have jobs next year, the legislature holds the club of health care cuts and lay offs over our heads.


Look again at that paycheck, the amount deducted for health care or paid by the State, with this money, the State has helped to pay the CEO of Anthem a multi-million dollar salary performing a job a small group of State employees could be hired to perform. They spend more millions renting buildings that landlords refuse to maintain while State owned property rots for lack of maintenance. Contracts are outsourced and the costs are never checked after the first year. They don’t understand.


The Mainers that are State employees know where the waste is, where the money is going. We want to work with the State to save tax dollars. We see the waste, we love Maine, and we pay taxes too. A partnership could save millions.


Be ready to call your legislator this coming year and tell them you understand, you vote, your family votes, you pay taxes too, and if the citizens of Maine can not get a driver license, the roads go unplowed, the public will remember.


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December 17th, 2008 Posted by narsbars | 2009 contract, Executive Branch Bargaining, MSEA, MSEA contract, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, Maine State Employees, SEIU 1989, Thomas Maher, UNIONMAINE, msea maine, outsourcing, state employee lay offs | one comment

Around Maine and the Nation budgets and Unions

Will Obama support the Employee Free Choice Act?

When asked by the Daily KOS if Obama’s support for the Employee Free Choice Act was still strong, Obama spokesman Dan Pfeiffer said, “Yes.”

Union members started to question the incoming president’s commitment after confusion caused by Rahm Emanuel in November when he seemed to blow off questions about support of this labor priority. The right wing started rumbles that labor had been stabbed in the back and would be forgotten.

It seemed as if the incoming White House chief of staff had shown only weak or even no support for the chances of the EFCA and did not state the EFCA would be a priority.

Emanuel seemingly dodged the topic of the EFCA when asked and some were concerned, wondering if this meant that that Obama would delay or renege on his promises to labor groups.

Stories started in the blogosphere, asking if Obama would drop his support of the legislation.

Following the tradition of the Obama campaign the answer to the question was quick and direct, especially as the right would like nothing more than to stop the EFCA and paint the failure as as Obama lying to labor.

Will Obama support the EFCA…………….. YES!

If you think it is bad now, over at PolitickerME.com follow this link to read about

The worst is yet to come

http://www.politickerme.com/wallyedgeme/3479/worst-yet-come

to get a great story on what your future looks like as a State employee. Some great reporting, some very scary stuff. I recommend you ask all of your negotiation teams to read this article. It doesn’t mean we work for free and donate our cars to the Maine Revenue Service, but you have to know how the legislature sees the future.

As usual TurnMaineBlue catches the good stuff. Bush can’t be satisfied ruining the economy, ecology as he leaves office, he feels the need to attack Unions again. You need to put TurnMaineBlue on your favorites, they hit the best in both local and national level politics with a wide range of contributors.

As a state employee I can just see how most of the right would like to pass the same laws in Maine. Homeland security would declare the State parks to be too important to allow unionization.
Go to TurnMaineBlue for and read about……..

Bush rules some Fed employees can no loner collectively bargain

President Bush issued an executive order on Monday that denies collective bargaining rights to about 8,600 federal employees……….

Mr. Bush said it would be inconsistent with “national security requirements” to allow those employees to engage in collective bargaining…………


by: Gerald


Check out TurnMaineBlue and the whole post here

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December 4th, 2008 Posted by narsbars | Employee Free Choice Act, Executive Branch Bargaining, MSEA, MSEA 2008 bargaining survey, MSEA contract, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, Maine State Employees, SEIU 1989, furlough days, state employee lay offs | no comments