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State Employees Fund Budget Again

Ten shut down days each year, around holidays, a two year freeze on merit raises and longevity, and a hit on health care (go to MSEA site for details after 11:30 pm) Tuesday night.

Tthere will be three levels of cuts initially. Bad, worse and even worse, with the possibility of moving the wellness portion up to the middle of 2010, maybe earlier.

Good No 5% pay cut.

Good Maybe someone will notice what we do when they can’t register a car or process paperwork.

Summary: They took between five and ten point 4 million additional dollars out of our hides.

Tim Belcher and Colonel Poulin both spoke up for their members but the venom dripping from the committee burned holes in my earphones from 90 miles away.

Like bullies anywhere they showed resentment that we tried to defend ourselves and that we tried to be part of the process.

Best Quotes: “They didn’t want to lose 5% and this is what they got.”

Rep: Flood: “I thought the 5% was fair, but I will vote for this anyway.”

Rep Martin: “This is better than anything I have seen so far!”

Almost to a man and a woman they showed disgust for State Employees who asked to be represented and as much as said “this is what you get for talking back”.

The ones that didn’t blame us or damn us turned their backs. I only hope it was in shame.

Tom Farkas, who does the Stater for us and handles our web page has been staying up to report on this sick joke and will have all the details.

UPDATE: From the MSEA website.

The Appropriations Committee at 10:20 PM Monday, May 18, eliminated the across the board 5% pay cut on all State workers.

In its place, the Committee imposed 20 shutdown days (10 per fiscal year) on Executive Branch and Legislative Branch workers, exempting so-called “Tier 1″ workers such as those in institutions, law enforcement and public safety.

For workers in all three branches of state government, the Committee voted to freeze merit increases and longevity increases for two years. The Committee allowed for comparable savings to be identified through contract negotiations.

On health insurance, the Committee imposed tiered individual premiums as follows:
Beginning October 1, 2009, those earning $30,000 or less will pay no premium, those earning $30,001 to $79,999 will pay 5 percent premiums; and those earning $80,000 and up will pay 10 percent premiums.

Beginning July 1, 2010, those earning $30,000 or less will pay 5 percent premiums, those earning $30,001 to $79,999 will pay 10 percent premiums; and those earning $80,000 and up will pay 15 percent premiums.

The Committee voted to establish a health credit premium program for implementation on July 1, 2010, where workers could earn back some or all of their individual premiums through healthy behavior.

Under this program, to be developed by the State Employee Health Commission, workers earning $30,000 or less could earn their way back to fully paid premiums, those earning $30,001 to $79,999 could earn their way back to up to 95 percent paid premiums, and those earning $80,000 and up could earn their way back to up to 92.5 percent paid premiums.

These cuts affecting state workers are now part of the overall two-year state budget that will go to the House and Senate for voting.

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May 18th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, Maine State Employees, health care cuts | no comments

Committee Votes State Employees Get Cuts

This came in late last night. One party in the legislature could not stop eating once they had stolen our lunch. The ability to bypass bargaining and pass laws to punish went to their heads.

Our Union leadership spent every minute at the legislature and the very worst was avoided. Please Give Credit to Ginette Rivard MSEASEIU Vice President and Tim Belcher, Executive Director for making sure we found out the facts instead of rumors as soon as possible and for the endless hours she has spent working for us.

The straight party line vote will tell you who we have to work for no matter how bad this was, picture a Republican Majority.

The Appropriations Committee just voted on our health insurance, (Thursday Night) the last item affecting our members in the budget .

The health insurance vote was the first party line vote in this budget cycle from this committee. This is the proposal: FY 10: employees earning less than $30,000 pay 5% of the premium, those earning above $30,000 pay 10%,
effective 10/1/09.
FY11: Everyone pays 10%, but as soon as a wellness incentive plan can be implemented, everyone gets option of earning back a rebate equal to the amount of the premium contribution.

The Republican proposal would have added a third tier over $90,000 that would pay 15%, but would only let employees earn back 1/2 of the premium contribution.

Add to this the 5% across the board cut in pay for all employees, effective 10/1/09. We have urged them to allow us to bargain over the 5% cut in pay, so we could get shut down days where possible. They did not accept that proposal.

They also disagreed with our request to leave health insurance intact. On that issue, they went even further than the Governor, but were somewhat less harsh than the State and Local Government Committee, which recommended an immediate 10% cut.

We had also urged them to find a way to be equitable among all employees, to avoid layoffs, and to preserve step increases.

The final package is responsive to those needs, including no additional layoffs. spreading the pain among all employees, and eliminating the merit freeze in both years.

We will generate a cost comparison that will help explain how these plans developed. Finally, there is no question that our political allies stood up for state workers in crafting a difficult compromise.

Senator Mitchell and Speaker Pingree in particular worked hard to resist intense pressure on the Appropriations Committee concerning health insurance.

Sen. Mitchell worked with Frank Johnson to develop the idea of allowing state workers to earn their way back to full premium.

While no one liked the idea of unpaid holidays, that proposal opened the way to spread the cost of these cuts to all employees, not just our members.

Her ideas reduced the impact on thousands of employees, particularly the lowest paid. This is a very tough moment in our union’s history, but the truth is that many political leaders came to the defense of state workers. Without their help, this package would have been much worse.

Editor: Picture a Republican Majority

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May 15th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Ginette Rivard, MSEA-SEIU, Maine State Employees, Tim Belcher, health care cuts, pay cuts | one comment

No temporary taxes, No temporary benefit cuts

A friend of mine sent this to me and I think it expresses the opinions of a lot of State Employees. Don’t change the game half way through, just because you can. Don’t make permanent cuts for a temporary situation

You can use this as a model for a letter to your own legislator. Remember do nothing and you have to be happy what ever happens.

As a State employee and as one of your constituents, I am coming to you with great urgency regarding proposed cuts in State employee benefits. We all realize that these are very tough economic times across the nation, if not globally.

Governments, institutions, businesses and families are all caught up in this very unfortunate economic downturn. When you look at what has gone on in this country over the past eight years, however, one tends to seriously ponder the legitimacy of loading fiscal crises on the backs of everyday working men and women, while Bush cronies and corporate thieves seem to continue their pleasure cruise relatively unscathed. I truly feel for honest and concerned politicians who are doing their best at trying to equitably solve financial messes that they likely did not create, but it becomes very unsettling when it looks to be done at the expense of workers who, themselves, are trying desperately to make ends meet.

I became a State employee nearly 20 years ago, a few years before the last major fiscal “event” of the McKernan administration. I have already taken a significant “ding” in my benefits package, as did many, many of my fellow State employees.

Now, another significant blow to State employees’ benefits is being proposed, over an issue that is likely very temporary, yet the proposed cuts are again, permanent The temporary cuts will most certainly become permanent, even as budget issues wane. I would venture to say that many others, like me, came to State employment out of desire for a long-term, stable position where a “well-rounded” and sound compensation package would prevail, passing by much more lucrative salaries typically offered by (more volatile) private sector employment. Cutting benefits to State employees is conducive neither to retention nor recruitment of a loyal, dedicated and quality workforce.

Please consider this potential “slap in the face” to State employees, and work with your fellow Legislators and the Governor to turn things around in a more amicable and equitable manner for everyone. Thank you and best wishes for your ultimate success as my Representative in the Maine Legislature.

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March 23rd, 2009 Posted by narsbars | MSEA, SEIU 1989, STATE EMPLOYEES, health care cuts | no comments