UnionMaine

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Saving Union Jobs, Saving Taxpayer Dollars


The picture has nothing to do with anything. I like it.

This is a cross post from SEIU 1000 in Califooorneeeyaa. Sorry Arnold. In California the SEIU has taken a hit, but they kept the State from taking everything. They DiD make layoff protections and seniority rights better. These are tough times, China says they will be the world leader in the production of electric cars in three years. Congress wants to pay bankers and crucify Unions. In Maine we need to look to the SEIU in California as a model (including the NUHW).
Get involved or get run over

Public Health drops outsourcing plans
Department to fill 53 positions
instead of contracting out

Updated 9:00 a.m., April 1

Bowing to pressure from Local 1000, the Department of Public Health (DPH) has dropped its efforts to outsource civil service work in four separate contracts worth a total of $3.8 million. The DPH decision comes as a result of Local 1000’s two-year campaign against wasteful private contracting that costs taxpayers more than performing the work in-house. Since 2006, Local 1000 has challenged dozens of state contracts and won more than 80 percent of our challenges. Outsourcing raises costs “This is a huge win for us – the department changed its policy because we have proven that it is not cost-effective for the state to hire private contractors,” said Marie Harder, a senior information systems analyst in the Department of Public Health. “It looks like DPH is finally starting to get it and learn not to waste taxpayer money on contracts when state workers can do a better job for less.” The news came as DPH made a budget request to the state Senate Budget Subcommittee on Health & Human Services on March 19. The budget request, delayed during February’s budget battle, was to hire state workers to perform work that previously was scheduled to go to private contractors, including an information technology contract and a janitorial contract in Richmond. In both those cases, Local 1000 challenged the contracts and they were overturned by the State Personnel Board. Avoid future litigation The DPH budget request cited Local 1000’s successful challenges and said “in order to respond to the State Personnel Board’s ruling and to mitigate any future litigation, the DPH came forward with” a proposal to hire state employees to perform that work at a lower cost. The agency said it planned to fill 53 new positions with state employees instead of contractors..

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April 3rd, 2009 Posted by narsbars | SEIU 1989, furlough days, nuhw | 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

.




Enter your Email to Get Updates When Published

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

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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Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

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

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

High Tech Maine Network Services


Dedicated to Bob, Dave, Duncan, John, and the rest of the bunch that never gets the credit for keeping the State of Maine’s Network running. They may not be the face of IT in Maine but they are the brains that keep it going. With apologies to the men and women I may have left out.

After having dug to a depth of 10 feet last year, New York scientists found traces of copper wire datingback 100 years and came to the conclusion that their ancestors already had a telephone network more than100 years ago.

Not to be outdone by the New Yorkers, in the weeks that followed in California, an archaeologist dug to a depth of 20 feet.Shortly after, headlines in the LA Times newspaper read: “California archaeologists have found traces of 200 year old copper wire and have concluded that their ancestors already had an advanced high-tech communications network a hundred years earlier than the New Yorkers.”

One week later, the Kennebec Journal, a local newspaper in Maine, reported the following:”After digging as deep as 30 feet in his pasture near West Gardiner,Kennebec County, Maine, Bubba Mitchell, a self-taught archaeologist and graduate of Colby College, reported that he found absolutely nothing. Bubba has therefore concluded that 300 years ago, Maine had already gone wireless.Thank God for Bubba.Who said Mainers were hicks?
141.114

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December 3rd, 2008 Posted by narsbars | MSEA, furlough days | no comments

Bush Smash


Will we save the banks and let the ecology collapse?

Watching the Hulk on DVD reminded me of George Bush. Bruce Banner with his respect for science never got invited to the comparison. The Bush complexion in these dying days is turning slightly green while having even less capability for thought than the big green guy.Maybe he is just getting some bad pretzels.

Bush is acting like the enraged monster version of the Hulk, screaming “Bush Smash!” as the country wakes up from an eight year bad dream and throws him out. He is looting the treasury, smashing the furniture, ripping the doors off the palace, he is all rage and determined to leave nothing worth owning by the time the sons of bitches kick him out.

Politicians always pay off their friends when they leave office, but Bush isn’t paying off favors. Yes he owes the mining, logging, banking, and oil industries, and his last minute “de”regulations, opening our wilderness to logging and mining, along with the destruction of pollution controls will go a long ways to return favors. Treasury secretary Paulson’s is looting the treasury while refusing to say where the money is going, but even these hundreds of billions are not payback.

He is not paying favors, he is trying to smash those who threw him and his type out. If left in place by the next Congress these last minute acts of rage will do as much damage as he achieved in the eight years. The hope is to delay the the economy badly enough so the public will forget where the recession started. The right wing started calling this the “Obama Recession” even before the election. Talk radio will be dishing out the big lie every day until the next election.

In these last weeks we see the core of the right wing agenda and we see why they lost. The earth, the citizens of the U.S. and anyone not in their self appointed elite have no rights, deserve no respect, and will be destroyed in the attempt to leave nothing behind, except destruction for the new president and Congress. Neoconservatism never had any belief but power and now that the only power they have left is destruction they use it joyfully.

Bush’s legacy will be destruction. The war in Iraq, runaway climate change, a ruined economy, a world that has lost respect for the U.S., and an endless war on science will be his memory, not his library. Bush……. Library. When you put the two words in a sentence, library looks ashamed and tries to move to a better sentence.

Give Bush credit, he has been ignorant and destructive and he is staying the course until the last minute. Please do one good thing when you go George, take Dick Cheney with you.

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December 2nd, 2008 Posted by narsbars | 2009 contract, MSEA, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, SEIU 1984, SEIU 1989, UNIONMAINE, furlough days, state employee lay offs | no comments

Wall street wants your $$ and wants to break your Unions.



During most of the Bush regime, Social Security “reform” was the star of the Bush administration’s agenda. The idea was to give over $1 trillion from our Social Security payments to create personal investment accounts for employees under 55 years old. Those retirement funds would have been handled by being invested in the stock market.

Our accounts would have magically multiplied in value, giving us a comfortable retirement. You would have taken the risk but not the brokers; no matter how poorly they performed they would have “earned” a percentage of your money to reward their “investment skills”.
No matter what happened, the brokers would have been guaranteed huge profits regardless of performance.

A fee of only two percent would have given a return on $1 trillion of $20 billion win, lose or draw.

Well, we all know how that would have worked out.

This situation has been a long time coming. Wall Street thinks that they should have your paycheck whether is called a bailout or “reform”. Union pension funds have always been seen as a pot of money workers don’t deserve.

Now, as Wall Street failures get free handouts from the taxpayer. Secretary of the Treasury Paulson sings “I’ll spend it my way” to the tune of Sinatra’s I did it my way.
While the banks and Paulson refuse to say where the money is going, the right wing is tries to make sure that the big three don’t get any help.

Sure the CEOs of the big three were idiots for flying private jets to Washington, but this is a smokescreen for the ongoing campaign against Unions. “They make $70.00 an hour!” is the war cry. The $70.00 figure is only true if you include all retirees and all current workers at the present pay scale and don’t look to 2009 where the new UAW pay scale is nearly half of what today’s workers can earn.

Wall Street and the Government use a two prong attack to break Unions

The recent near collapse of the Teamsters’ Central States Pension Fund is frightening to all workers planning on a pension. The fund covered about 460,000 until UPS was allowed to pull out 44,000 workers. The CSPF even during the Mob years was famous for being able to provide benefits for all of its members until the funds were made a piggy bank for the only group greedier than the mob, Wall Street.

Did the Teamsters lose the money?

The federal government started attacking pensions and Union power under the Kennedy administration and continued under both Democrats and Republicans under the disguise of a campaign against organized crime.

Starting with attacks on the Teamsters, the reason given for the anti-Union campaign was a fight against crooked Unions and Mafia involvement. The links to the mob were real and many Teamster leaders were involved, and convicted of crimes. While ridding the Unions of corruption is a great goal and makes good headlines, there was always a dual agenda, and this was the first step in a long campaign against organized labor in the modern age.

While U.S. corporations and their paid for politicians were claiming to punish corruption, the real target was Jimmy Hoffa’s attempt to unite workers in all transport industries into a single Union. The second motive was to gain control of Union pension funds. The control of the Union pension funds would allow the corporations to loot the funds and destroy one of the great drivers of Unionization, security in retirement.

The Teamsters – mainly due to real connections with organized crime were forced in 1982 to turn over control of the Union to the the government. The prizes for the Corporations were two, huge funds and ongoing income of the Central States Fund and the removal of the Union power provided by a fund this size.

The pension fund was turned over to the control of Morgan Stanley, and the cash and half a million employees future became toys for Morgan Stanley. They didn’t care if they broke the toys. When the Unions lost control of their investments, they also lost the political power that went with the choice of where to invest.

Morgan Stanley immediately started shifting pension funds into high-risk investments. Buying and selling investments repeatedly to earn fees with no regard for the investor is called churning, an old reliable income generator for brokers. The old method of long term stable investments did not generate enough fees. When successful, the investments earned fat bonuses for the brokers. When risky investments failed the brokers fees never stopped. Only the employees depending on the funds for a secure retirement took any risk. The bankers couldn’t lose.

By 2003, after years of the greatest stock market gains in history the pension fund could only find 60 cents for every dollar owed to retired members, and for the first time cut benefits. While cutting pensions, a new rule cut off benefits for employees if the employees returned to work. They were not to be allowed to make up what Wall Street had lost.

Little mentioned is that while the Teamsters’ Fund lent nearly half a billion dollars to Las Vegas’ casinos and hotels during the 1960’s and 70’s, the loans were repaid and the CSPF had always paid benefits owed to its members.

Pension looting as a Union busting tool

The Teamsters retirement funds collapse is not a unique incident. At the top of the list of “under funded” defined benefit pension plans are the “big oil” companies like Exxon which is now crying that they may be forced to spend money if forced to fund pensions to the letter of the law. In 2002 the list included General Motors, Ford, IBM, Boeing, Exxon Mobil, DuPont, Verizon, Lucent and Delphi Automotive. Airlines have been allowed to file bankruptcy, break Union contracts, leave pensions unpaid, and return to profitability with no obligation to restore the pensions of the employees that built the companies.

Many major corporations have followed the models set by the airline and steel industries by defaulting on their pension plans. The pattern has been clear, first the pension funds are used to pay gross executive salaries, provide golden parachutes. The next step is bankruptcy and a release from Union contracts and pension plans. This model of looting and Union breaking became commonplace during the Bush years.

“Under funding” should called what it is, theft. Pensions are a part of workers’ wages. To earn a secure retirement workers delay part of their pay to provide retirement income.

You pay, you lose, you still pay

When the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation was created it was sold as a back up in case an employer pension fund collapsed. At the same time regulations that had long protected employee retirement funds were deregulated, with the claim that freeing the funds from government oversight would allow them to invest freely and grow.

The PBGC is funded by premiums paid by corporations.Premiums that are much less than the amount needed to provide promised benefits if the employer collapses or files for bankruptcy. in a move to escape pension obligations while breaking Unions. At the same time the Corporations were looting their employees pension funds they were lobbying to keep down the payments that would have provided a secure fall back.

In 2005 the PBGC announced a loss of $12.1 billion. The losses increased the PBGC’s deficit to over $23 billion. At that time the PBGC had $39 billion to cover $62 billion owed to retirees. At the same time the government consistently refused to enforce even the lax standards for premium payments that were in place, allowing the gap of assests to grow. The PBGC solution was to cut benefits to employees further rather than collect what was owed.

In 2005 it became clear the PBGC would go fail unless it received billions from the government. When the PBGC takes over pensions it receives the funds of the pensions it controls. Union pension funds make a highly visible target to help bail out years of government mismanagement.

In the years after WWII while the U.S. was becoming a better and better place for the worker, corporations paid about 48 percent of the Federal taxes collected. In 2005 that percentage had fallen to seven percent. This means that workers must pick up the tab first paying for their pensions and then paying the taxes for the PBGC to pick up after the companies go bankrupt.

If pensions were still paid at the agreed upon rate we could make an argument that the government was doing its job, but when companies default on a pension plan, the PBGC, slashes pension benefits by as much as sixty percent. The right is looking for a triple dip. They lost your original pension funds through greed. You are paying the taxes for the PBGC, and they want your pensions to fund the PBGC.

The current bail out is providing “pension” plans for millionaires and billionaires while the right wing foams at the mouth at the suggestion that any Union pension plan be helped in any way. The solution for the right is now to have the big three file bankruptcy, smash the Unions, and drop their pension obligations. Maybe if we called a pension a golden parachute they might let it slide..

Should we let the big three collapse? Do they deserve to fail for bad judgement? We need to look at recent history to judge Wall Streets motives and the possible results. If the deregulating, private account crowd had gotten their way, Social Security would now be bankrupt.

Until Wall Street wanted your money Government intervention was evil. Now government intervention is only evil if it might continue to provide jobs for Union workers. The Bush administration was preparing toloot Social Security in the same way they allowed the Teamsters and other pension funds and the stock market. Unions built strong funds that can recover, but not if they are forced under Wall Street management schemes.

Social Security must be kept strong as an example of the meaning of Security. Pension funds must be kept strong for the workers who trusted their security to these funds. We can not allow the economic crisis to be used as an excuse to break Unions.

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November 28th, 2008 Posted by narsbars | 2009 contract, EFCA, Employee Free Choice Act, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, Maine State Employees, Rod Hiltz, SEIU, SEIU 1989, furlough days, palin mccain msea unionmaine msea, state employee lay offs | no comments

Do your job, lose your job.








State Employees offer to pitch in and save money

Friday, November 21 2008


State Employees representing the Executive Branch bargaining units with over 9000 employees came to bargaining today with an offer to help with the budget crisis. State employees who have gone without raises for two years in recent contracts, and consistently accepted raises lower than inflation, today offered to help balance the budget by identifying savings and waste in State government.

State employee’s raises have not kept up with inflation for the last ten years consistently leaving them behind the private sector in real income today called for everyone to pitch in.

The State employees represented by the MSEA-SEIU manage lifesaving services for children and adults through DHHS, DOT, and Public Safety. All branches of State government provide necessary services to the people of Maine and State employees stand ready to help save tax payer dollars by ending wasteful outsourcing and bloated contracts to out of state companies.

“Why send our money out of State, when we can hire Mainers to do the work for less?” said one of the Union negotiators, No one knows how to serve Mainers better than Mainers and we will work with the State to identify areas where money can be saved and funds kept in Maine. When we keep the money in Maine it helps our revenue fo ALL Maine citizens!

‘We provide quality services.” We want to help cut the tax burden said members of the negotiations team.

Many people don’t know that some state employees earn so little that they qualify for state services. Even these employees are dedicated to doing their part to get everyone in Maine through these hard times.

There are so many examples of waste and opportunities for savings said another member of the executive branch teams.

We can find ways to save tax dollars.


“State employees pay taxes too and see their neighbors and friends hurting. With the help of their Union State employees have been trying to point out the waste of outsourcing for years and maybe during this crisis the time has come for the legislature to listen to those who know the work best.

State employees are your friends and neighbors and they don’t want agencies to close and the public suffer. Mainers will still need to register a car, adopt a child, be sure their food is safe, and educate their children.

State workers know how fragile the economy is at the moment but they know Maine will weather this downturn better than many States because Mainers will pull together.


Saving State services has strikes home when it is made personal. Here is a personal story.


Recently two public safety workers working long hours and many unpaid hours on their own time were responsible for tracking down a sexual predator. The detective work rivaled the best of CSI. These two heroes don’t make Hollywood salaries, they don’t get a bonus for catching a monster. They did it to keep your children safe.

No one knows how many children may have been saved from this monster. Last week one of these heroes was told they were scheduled for layoff, after saving children their child would have a mother with no job.

I hope the State will work with its citizens to lower costs and I expect the public would question why State agencies would refuse to partner with State employees at no cost in a mutual goal of saving tax dollars.

The State is expecting as much as a half billion dollar deficit and our members want to be part of the solution, we have the skills and the people to replace contracted services, saving both jobs and money for the taxpayers of Maine while improving services.

The workers’ contract does not expire until July 2009 but they are in negotiations now in order help find savings in the coming biennial budget.

State employees know they find ways to save the State millions of dollars. They are willing to commit the resources to make this happen.

Update: Saturday November 22

Ground Breaking Meeting of Executive, Judicial, and Community College bargaining units.

In a show of solidarity and strength the three bargaining units that are most closely associated with the biennial budget process met on Saturday to share their concerns, their talents, and to build solidarity.

The theme developed was “The best for the largest number, regardless of bargaining unit”. This unprecedented meeting will lead to more sharing in the future and make it harder to pit one unit against another.

“We all share common interests and we all want to help each other” said one of the Union team members.

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November 22nd, 2008 Posted by narsbars | EFCA, Employee Free Choice Act, SEIU 1984, SEIU 1989, UNIONMAINE, furlough days, state employee lay offs | one comment