UnionMaine

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Keeping Promises, Supporting Labor




President Obama: “You cannot have a strong middle class without a strong labor movement.”

Friday January 30, 2009

President Obama signed three critical Executive Orders reversing anti-worker Bush policies and it needs to be heard. Federal contractors can NOT be paid for anti-union activities

I am still in shock, this president is keeping his promises. The Republicans and the old style politicians are (hopefully) in cardiac arrest.

President Obama is not afraid to support labor:

He said “I also believe that we have to reverse many of the policies towards organized labor that we’ve seen these last eight years, policies with which I’ve sharply disagreed. I do not view the labor movement as part of the problem, to me it’s part of the solution. We need to level the playing field for workers and the unions that represent their interests, because we know that you cannot have a strong middle class without a strong labor movement.

We know that strong, vibrant, growing unions can exist side by side with strong, vibrant and growing businesses. This isn’t a either/or proposition between the interests of workers and the interests of shareholders. That’s the old argument. The new argument is that the American economy is not and has never been a zero-sum game. When workers are prospering, they buy products that make businesses prosper. We can be competitive and lean and mean and still create a situation where workers are thriving in this country.

So I’m going to be signing three executive orders designed to ensure that federal contracts serve taxpayers efficiently and effectively. One of these orders is going to prevent taxpayer dollars from going to reimburse federal contractors who spend money trying to influence the formation of unions. We will also require that federal contractors inform their employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act. Federal labor laws encourage collective bargaining, and employees should know their rights to avoid disruption of federal contracts.

And I’m issuing an order so that qualified employees will be able to keep their jobs even when a contract changes hands. We shouldn’t deprive the government of these workers who have so much experience in making government work

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January 31st, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Employee Free Choice Act, MSEA, MSEA 2008 bargaining survey, MSEA Dues, MSEA ELECTIONS, MSEA contract, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, State lay offs, TECHNORATI, msea maine | no comments

A Bridge Between Dark Clouds


http://www.flickr.com/photos/khalid-almasoud/

State employees are facing “troubles on the left of them” and “troubles on the right” as their pay and benefits become a football and a distraction from a real solution for economic problems.

The good news is there is a middle ground between slashing State services and cutting State employee pay and benefits as demanded by some on the right. There is a way and State employees want to be part of the solution. They are not part of the problem.

The State budget released today will cut more State employees and reduce services to the public. Employees are concerned that there will be political attacks on State employees based only on publicity and not on sound fiscal planning. Will we be looking at more layoffs, furlough days, and a proposed tax hike that ONLY affects State employees?

State employees are all Mainers and all Mainers are facing the same thing. An economic collapse fueled by eight years of tax breaks for the rich and constant attacks on labor.

MSEASEIU 1989 members know that, more than ever, all Maine citizens must work together and work as a group. State employees are not a separate group from the public, we are their neighbors and their friends. We plow the roads, prosecute criminals, and we take the term “public service” seriously. Our message is that the attempt to balance the budget on State employee paychecks is only smoke and mirrors, the budget can not be balanced on the paychecks of State employees.

To get an eleven percent savings in the State budget you would need to layoff EVERY SINGLE State employee, cops, judges, nurses, plow drivers and fire inspectors.
All of them. No lottery tickets. No cops. No aid to schools. Do you want to be asked for your credit card when you call 911? A true Dick Cheney heaven.

State employees are at the mercy of the Governor and the legislature. No one knows what ideas the governor and the legislature may come up with next, and it is too soon to say what issues will be brought to contract negotiations by the State on several key issues, including increased health insurance costs. Both sides are expected to return to the table this coming week.

Meanwhile, the governor and legislative leaders continue to look for solutions to the state’s budget deficit that is now nearly a billion dollars with no short term relief in sight.

While the nearly $200 million expected in federal stimulus will help plug a piece of the state’s deficit, the governor and legislative leaders all say it is not a cure for our chronic budget problem. The federal stimulus package now moves to the Senate where debate over the size and focus of the aid money will rage on.

At home, State employees know where the waste is, we know where contracts send money out of State instead of sending it to Maine businesses. We want to save taxpayers money because we are taxpayers too.


The governor and legislators need to hear from you.

Send the governor and e-mail today using the sample letter or write your own. Don’t let them make decisions behind closed doors. We pay taxes, we vote, and we want to help.

Governor@Maine.Gov

Governor Baldacci I am a state employee working at ______________.

Cutting State Employee Health Care is a tax increase, and shutting down state government using furloughs or shut down days is unfair to the citizens of Maine and will not solve the budget crisis.

Closing government or reducing services to the public will do more harm than good to Maine. State employees have many suggestions for saving money and feel that the shutting down state agencies is unfair and necessary savings can be made without furloughs. We want to work with State government to save money for all Mainers. Our current contract negotiations are an opportunity for cooperation in place of conflict.

Shutting down state agencies won’t just harm State Employees, it will harm all Mainers who depend on vital services provided by State employees. You say you want to protect all Mainers and you will not raise taxes. We are citizens and ask you not to raise our taxes.

How will state agencies respond to emergencies when they are understaffed? How many bridges will not be inspected or repaired because no one is there to do the work? Who will issue unemployment checks and drivers licenses?

Will elderly Citizens be safe when there are no nursing home inspectors. Can we drive safely when there are not enough snow plow drivers? Maine needs you to to focus on solutions to this crisis instead of crippling agencies that provide services all Mainers need and depend on.

MSEASEIU members stand ready to work with the State and present ideas to enable millions of savings that can be realized by stopping contracting State work to out of State vendors.

We can save money by utilizing unused State property rather than pay rents for poorly maintained buildings. Me and my coworkers believe we can save the State millions over the next two year budget without raising taxes. Ideas that would not result in cutting State services to the Public with closed offices and lack of staff.
Will you listen? We live here too.

Sincerely,


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January 28th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | MSEA 2008 bargaining survey, MSEA contract, Maine DOT, Maine State Employees, PRIVATIZE, SEIU 1989 | no comments

Cut, Cut, Cut

http://www.flickr.com/photos/darkpatator/2290947745/page2/

The middle of winter and all through the state, workers are working both early and late. What do they get for their long hours and strife? A gift from the state in the dead of the night.
Not just furloughs, but wage freezes, too. But that isn’t all they want to give you. They’ve got a plan to jack up health care prices and make you bear the burden for their budget crisis! Check the side bar for the AFSCME Xmas You Tube video.

Governors across the nation are seeking State employee sacrifices and concessions to help balance budgets during the economic downturn.

In States with no strong Unions governors are ordering cuts including pay and benefit cuts, shut downs, and furlough days. In States with strong Unions states are offering bad contracts with concessions and cuts but they are forced to negotiate.

California, Hawaii, Maryland, Ohio, New Jersey, and in many more states governors have asked or ordered state workers to accept furloughs, salary reductions, shortened workweeks and/or benefit cuts. The concessions may be the only way to minimize further job losses in the face of record-breaking unemployment.

Unions argue their members shouldn’t be singled out and are even more vital in hard times providing social services, to a growing population in need, public safety, and education.

Democratic Governor of Ohio, a long time Union friend is asking over 60,000 state employees to accept a 5 percent pay cut, a 35-hour workweek, mandatory furloughs, elimination of step increases, higher costs for their health insurance ,elimination of paid personal days, along with unpaid holidays. State employees are represented by the Ohio Civil Service Employees

Union president Parks said that the union’s negotiating team was “aghast at the scope of the concessions the state proposed.” Union negotiators have been told that layoffs might be necessary even if concessions are made

There has been a long history of Unions compromising with State governments and then having the promises to protect jobs broken. When the MSEASEIU accepted the Cliff, furloughs, and contracts with no raises during the nineties hundreds of jobs were still lost.

Another Democratic Governor, Martin O’Malley of Maryland, imposed furloughs and salary cuts on thousands of state workers in December in an attempt to save $34 million.

The part time legislature of Maryland earns $47,000.00 a year and has so far exempted themselves from the cuts.

The largest State employee Union in Maryland, AFSCME, succeeded in preserving employee benefits but could not halt the furlough days. The Maryland legislature is expected to try to cut State employee benefits and health care for both current and retired State employees.

In 2008 the New Jersey legislature along with Democratic Governor Jon Corzine cut two paid holidays, Lincoln’s Birthday and the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Utah eliminated one paid holiday and is trying a four-day state workweek.

Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle, a Republican, will probably pursue furloughs for 36,000 state employees and ask them to pay a larger share of health insurance coverage and to skip raises. The Governor cut two traditional half day holidays, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. The cuts apply to 53,000 state employees in all departments, including the state Department of Education and the University of Hawaii. Marie Laderta, director of the state Department of Human Resources Development recommended that employees be allowed vacation leave to allow additional holiday time off, subject to operational needs.

Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell said layoffs and unpaid furloughs are likely in that state as well.

California Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger tried to force furloughs two days a month beginning in February for 230,000 employees mostly represented by SEIU………GOOD NEWS:…………Democratic State Controller John Chiang said he will refuse to reduce state worker pay as demanded by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, possibly sparing more than 200,000 public employees from furloughs and pay cuts.

Chiang filed documents last week in Sacramento Superior Court arguing that the governor’s plan is illegal.”California law is clear that only the Legislature has ultimate authority over setting state employee salaries,”

Gov Schwarzenegger has so far been unable to cut two paid holidays from State employees due to the need to engage in collective bargaining.

In 1992 and again in 2003, state employees bargained leave agreements that accepted pay cuts 4.6% to 7%, in exchange for leave credits. Those agreements, were collectively bargained and ratified by the Legislature.

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January 25th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | MSEA, MSEA 2008 bargaining survey, MSEA Dues, MSEA contract, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, SEIU, SEIU 1989, STATE EMPLOYEES, State lay offs, afscme, state employee lay offs | no comments

Why do we have to fight for benefits?


Congress couldn’t reach an agreement to bail out the Auto Industry and the right placed the blame placed on the greedy Unions. The Senator from Alabama with three foreign manufacturers in his state wants American industry to die, the Republican Union haters are hoping that the big three will die before Obama gets sworn in.

True irony shows up when George Bush may be the white knight riding to save the day by ordering part of the original $700,000,000,000 to be spent on companies that actually make things instead of glorified accountants. (Apologies to accountants)

The right blames Unions and cites the demand for gold plated health care, retirement pay, and high wages. The non-union plants of Honda, Toyota, and Mercedes are the examples given to pin blame on the Unions.

The Unions are painted as so evil it would justify destroying the big three just to burn them out.Checking out the facts on wages brings out the truth; in 2006 GM reported the highest paid hourly GM workers received $27 an hour, somewhat less than the claims of $72.00 to $80.00 made on talk radio.

Workers in Toyota and Honda plants earn about the same. In 2007, Toyota’s non-union plant in Georgetown, Ky., paid higher wages than UAW contracts, averaging $30 per hour with bonuses.Why do we keep hearing $72.00 and hour?

You need to be creative with math to get to a $72 an hour figure. First you add up all wages, then you add all pensions and benefits paid to retirees and only then do you divide by the current workforce.

The newcomers, Toyota, Honda, and Mercedes don’t have more than a few hundred retirees. Leaving out the cost of retirees a US worker makes about the same as the non-union employee.

GM is $48 billion in debt, not due to the high cost of the employees and retirees; it is a failure to plan.

Necessary money that should have been invested to pay for the future was spent on dividends, private jets, huge bonuses for executives.Legacy costs add as much as $2,000 to the price of an American vehicle. Made in America vehicles could still be sold abroad if they didn’t face VAT taxes that can add up to 150%, taxes that Toyota, Honda, and Mercedes don’t face when they import to the US.

How can they make cars and afford to ship them to the US?In Japan and the EU there are guaranteed health benefits, pensions and retirement provided by the government.

The employers typically give six weeks or more vacation for every employee. When these costs are taken from the employer Unions negotiate over working conditions, training, without worrying where the money to pay for a hip replacement in old age will come from.

Union leaders in the US have been urging the US to support national health care for over six decades, starting in the 1940s.Do we solve this by breaking the Unions? cutting their wages, canceling their benefits, and throwing the retirees under the bus?

It has been shown that the UAW wages are not any higher than non-union workers. Secondly we have to consider what steps the Unions have already taken. In 2005 and 2007 the UAW agreed to freeze wages for four years and cut pay for new employees to about $14.

New company pensions were scrapped, new hires would invest in a 401(k), pay higher co-pays on health care, and lose paid holidays and benefits previously negotiated.

Cost of living increases were given up to help offset escalating health care costs. GM is currently in talks with the UAW to put of paying its share of the VEBA money meant to pay for the health care of current employees and retirees.The Union, traded raises while facing inflation in order to keep their health care, and that doesn’t sound like greed.

The Union negotiated for the issues important to its members, issues GM management had been unable and unwilling to face for years.

The Union negotiated for Health care, a promise to freeze outsourcing and plant closings.The UAW forced GM to do what U.S. government and GM management refused to do: institute long-term planning, provide security over short-term profitability, and lifted most of the health care costs away from the employer, with the agreement that the Union would become responsible for maintaining the health care plan in the future.

The Union made sacrifices for the good of the employer in order to secure their employment.Bush, McCain and many Republicans have blamed unions for “gold plated” health care plans that are nearly as good as what both Bush and McCain get for free.

Do we need to break the hold of organized labor, reduce health care benefits, and slash wages?

Unions created the middle class. That is not to make the claim that Toyota, Honda, and Mercedes are trying to destroy unions, they are paying what would be a fair wage in a country that that provided health care, pensions, and cared for the elderly.

The US is a competitive society, how is it that the country has turned against the working class but not the hundred million dollar executive? The billionaire pays a lower tax rate than the janitor.

Tax rates for corporations are lower than at any time in history when loopholes are figured in.

The screams against a maximum pay, or a fair tax rate for these executives was so loud that there are no effective controls on companies receiving billions of dollars from the taxpayer, yet the Unions are painted as the living devil for trying to provide a living and a retirement for themselves.

If the employees had to cut wages and benefits enough save the auto industry it would mean accepting minimum wage, no benefits while dumping all retiree benefits and pensions. While we are at it why don’t we do away with overtime?

The executives would stay rich, American cars would be cheaper and we would have rolled back society a hundred years.Henry Ford got rich by paying employees far above what was needed to hire employees. The idea was he wanted them able to buy the products they were producing.Enter your Email and receive updates by email

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December 15th, 2008 Posted by narsbars | ATTACK ON UNIONS, Employee Free Choice Act, MSEA, MSEA 2008 bargaining survey, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, SEIU 1989, UAW, anti union talk show, state employee lay offs | no comments

$80.00 an hour


We can’t bail out the big three because the UAW bankrupted the big three; they raped and bankrupted the big three and now is the time to smash the Unions before they get into the Honda and Toyota plants. Translation: We must defend the foreign auto makers against a strong American work force.

Take this sentiment apart further and you get rage, rage that Democracy worked and the Republicans were thrown out. The American public is seen as stupid because they didn’t elect McCain and the right intends to punish the UAW, blaming Unions for failed management and a failed regulatory climate under the Bush regime. The right hates the American worker, loving only the money they can make for themselves.

John McCain set the example laughing at the idea of buying American. Before the run up to the presidential election John McCain described requirements that materials for the US navy be purchased from American companies as “ludicrous” and “disgraceful”. During a Senate debate McCain sarcastically said: “I know we’ll sleep better tonight knowing that all our carbon plates (for Navy ships) are made in America.”

For years the treasury has been looted, providing “incentives” to move American jobs abroad. Not only did the pharmaceutical industry move most drug manufacturing off shore, they made the taxpayer reward them for losing American jobs.

Why else would a fifteen billion dollar package, and yes, I expect more to come be fought over so harshly? Consider the fact that the UAW ran ads in swing states costing millions, while union members volunteered for the Obama campaign. Obama wants to provide federal aid to bail out the auto industries so Americans can keep jobs where they make real things, not just shuffle billions on paper. Obama supports what corporations see as the anti-Christ, the EFCA.

While there is hardly a peep about AIG providing “retention bonuses” of millions of dollars for a single years work to executives, the talk shows rant “These greedy union workers don’t deserve taxpayer’s dollars” Today it seems like common sense to say that no company can afford to pay lifetime pension and medical benefits or to support workers for up to two years if laid off.

What happened to the money that should have been invested to provide those benefits? Like so many defined benefit plans the funds were seen as a pot of gold to steal from with no risk. Year after year dividends and golden parachutes were handed out by underfunding future promises. The money was there and it would be there now if regulations had been in place to prevent using the funds as risk free betting money. Management always knew it was heads we win tails you lose.

The right wants to follow the same pattern as the airlines, the Republicans made it easy to, like the airlines, declare bankruptcy, shed their pensions, break their Union contracts with the help of the government and then continue to hand out millions in bonuses. The real reason is always to break the unions.

Unions are not perfect, but Unions didn’t ruin these companies and should not be punished. In order to pay for the wages and benefits, auto companies passed the cost to consumers and then instead of investing they handed out bonuses and more dividends while lowering the quality of their cars to make even more profit. Taxpayers have paid enough for these greedy auto executives. They think they are entitled. The big Three have been setting up foreign operations for years and if they want funds the first plants to close should be in Mexico, not the US.

Foreign companies come to America and provide quality autos and good paying jobs. Why won’t the UAW take the same wages? Why are these companies paying good wages? They had to be or their plants would have been unionized. Last year when the UAW had to compromise on health care, Toyota for no reason except greed lowered benefits to its non Union workforce. What happens to Detroit will happen to the South.

Destroying the big three will cause wages to fall or to stagnate in the imported factories because there will be no better model to compare to any longer. The employees in these companies will find that they are truly working in “right to work for less state”.

If it is the Union’s fault because of pensions, vacations, and healthcare then any company providing the same benefits will be in the same boat…..right? The German auto industry isn’t collapsing. In the US, Boeing just settled a contract with wage increases and job security clauses. Boeing stock is looking good on Wall Street. You also can’t depend on company profits to be shared. Caterpillar tractor made billions and then more billions, but when it came to contract negotiations in 2005 threatened to move to Mexico. I am certain Bush would have allowed them to write off the costs. The UAW was forced to sign a contract severely cutting wages and benefits for new hires even after years of increased growth and profit that supported good jobs.

There is enough blame to go around, we have seen the private jet flying, arrogant and inept management team, greedy stock holders, Union inflexibility at times, greedy stock holders, and a right wing press still reporting that UAW workers make $80.00 an hour. Spread the wealth, why blame it all on the unions?

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December 12th, 2008 Posted by narsbars | ATTACK ON UNIONS, Employee Free Choice Act, MSEA, MSEA 2008 bargaining survey, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, UAW, state employee lay offs | 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

Buy your beer and wine now

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In other news:

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

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

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

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

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

PLEASE TAKE THE BARGAINING SURVEY

YOUR IDEAS COUNT.

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

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

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

Bargaining Suggestion Pro-Tech & OIT

This is a suggestion from an OIT employee. I have edited it to remove all personally identifying information. We need to be looking for Pro-Tech and OIT ideas for the next contract and we need to be doing it yesterday. This is one of the best laid out ideas yet. Why is it a good idea? Because it puts forward a goal, and then provides justification. It also raises other questions about fair play, and does not ask for anyone to be knocked down, only for talented employees to be recognized and compensated fairly.

The tech people in the field should be considered 2nd and 3rd level support. That being said, the regional folks should be at least an ISS 2 or higher. They work with minimal supervision and most of the time none at all. They have a very large range of skills that are needed to be able to resolve issues on their own. The help desk should be mostly ISS 1, at first level support and work under the supervision of managers or more skilled 2s and above.

Most field personnell are doing things that qualify as a 2. They work on servers. Our department is full of non-technical management over the ISS 1’s and ISSS 2s who have less technical ability than the field workers and are getting paid more for doing it. There should be a career structure setup that if you start out as an ISSS 1, then lets say in 3 years, you take a test to score your skills and if you pass, then you would be promoted to a 2. Right now it seems that to get promoted, someone has to like you. Just my 2 cents.

PLEASE TAKE THE BARGAINING SURVEY AND

MAKE YOUR IDEAS COUNT.

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

Click Here to take survey

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

Enter your Email

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April 9th, 2008 Posted by narsbars | MSEA 2008 bargaining survey, MSEA contract, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, SEIU 1989, TECHNORATI | no comments

Lay offs? Benefit Cuts? Apathy?

The current budget negotiations have brought up the ghosts of years past. No raise contracts, furlough days and political pressure to “hurt” State Employees not for financial reasons but for political gain.

We must face the fact that we are looking at demands that we get no raises, suffer benefit cuts, and layoffs, the MSEA will face some tough challenges when its representatives take their seats at the bargaining table some time later this year.

The first meetings should take a place towards the end of the year, while the legislature will be working to finalize the 2009-2011 budget.

The State plans to have privatized the Levinson center by that time, though the plan was delayed for a while after workers and the parents of clients objected. Decreases in Social benefits will be widespread and the right wing will be in frenzy as they face serious political challenges in both the local and National elections. They will be desperate to blame anyone for their failed policies. In Maine they will want to blame Unions.

The right will be promising that more tax cuts for the rich and privatization of State services to their friends will solve all the problems.

In order to avoid becoming a public target we must get the word out that the union recognizes that Maine and the county are facing difficult times.

We need tell our neighbors that Union members want to suggest ways to make State services more effective and efficient. Tell them we know State workers have an obligation to participate in innovation and quality. We know the jobs best and this gives us the ability to suggest ideas to provide better services and do the best job possible at the lowest cost. We are Mainer’s too, and we don’t want to waste tax payer money because we are tax payers too.

Whether the Bush administration admits it or not the economy is in a recession, and that will impact our negotiations. We can go in and demand ridiculous terms, but that doesn’t make any sense. What we have to do is sit down early and work on both the financial aspects and all of the open working condition issues that are open and unresolved. Then with our research done and in unity we can begin to bargain with the State.

The MSEA, executive branch bargaining teams must realize that we are also carrying the hopes for the State College system, AFSCME, and other units. Historically their contracts have mirrored whatever we have been able or unable to achieve at the table. We will need to try to hear from as many members of our MSEA-SEIU locals to get ideas and gather strength.

Our Union is looking at new methods of bargaining starting with a bargaining summit on May 10 but so far neither members or Union officials know what new process may be developed or how they will be implemented.

The bargaining summit is not exclusive. Individual workers are invited to meet other members and with Union officials to create an official channel for workers to raise proposals, grievances, lobby for policy changes and ask to be heard. One thing is certain; any member that does not participate is giving up the right to complain about the results.

PLEASE TAKE THE BARGAINING SURVEY AND MAKE YOUR IDEAS COUNT.

There is a Bargaining summit coming up on May 10. Do you think things should be done differently? Have you ever asked why something was done? Show up and make yourself heard.
During the bargaining for the 2007-2009 contract your bargaining team found the bargaining survey gave our teams more input and information than had ever been received before. This site and your Union are both collecting ideas now. Your ideas count!

Click Here to take survey

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

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April 5th, 2008 Posted by narsbars | MSEA 2008 bargaining survey, MSEA Dues, MSEA ELECTIONS, MSEA contract, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, Maine State Employees, SEIU 1989, TECHNORATI, UNIONMAINE, msea maine | no comments

Lies, Lies, and a roadmap

Today as a steward I helped a number of employees get the respect they deserve. As a Union representative I heard some problems from some employees. I contacted management and asked if they understood the contract language. Contract language that I helped to write. There was no big fight. A few calls, mention of some old emails and contract language and we all agreed. The result was an agreement that this was all a misunderstanding and that, of course, the employees would get the wages they were due. I honestly don’t think that management intended anything, but because of our Union, management and labor avoided a confrontation and bad feelings. The best result is the employees will get the wages and respect they feel they have earned.
A phone call, a little involvement, and we had a success. We must all be prepared to get involved. I will slip this next comment in quickly. If you want to keep reading any of this blog—comment. I agree with my own writing, except when the voices keep shouting each other down, but I don’t know what you want or even if you want any more of this. It is up to you.

Waiting for State Employees to become involved.


Don’t say the Republicans are sneaky. They are very clear. They do not respect the citizens of Maine or State employees.

I have tried to be even handed recognizing that a good idea or a bad idea has no political party and neither party has a monopoly on being right.

But if you are a State Employee or a citizen of Maine that expects to have good services when you need them you will know who to blame when you can’t register a car or get the roads plowed.

Republicans have put forward their own versions of budget cuts, at least three of which would directly affect state workers.

The GOP members of the Health and Human Services Committee want to require all state workers and legislators to pay ten percent of their health insurance premiums and regardless of how little they make to prohibit them from signing up for MaineCare.

They also want to eliminate vacant state jobs and even knowing my audience I have to say that may have merit. If the cuts were enforced fairly it could work. The remaining employees would share in the overtime needed to do the work. Just don’t say fair to the university system. During the Big Job Freeze the University system just kept on hiring. During the travel ban the University travel budget kept on growing.

The most harmful suggestions will not be able to be put in force now because of fair contracts negotiated by the MSEA-SEIU. Even though we have paid for our benefits in advance for ten, twenty or even more years, they are only guaranteed until 2009. They will be targeted again and again.

Let us put a name to some of the GOP members that think it is OK to break the word of the State and promises given to prospective employees in order to hire talented hard working employees to serve Maine.

Sen. Kevin Raye, R-Perry, and Rep. Robert Walker, R-Lincolnville, said the proposed cuts provide a roadmap for budget cuts over the long term. TRANSLATION: THEY WANT TO KEEP ON CUTTING, NO MATTER HOW HARD IT WILL MAKE IT ON THE CITIZENS OF MAINE. THE NO NEW TAXES PROMISE IS A LIE. NO NEW TAXES UNLESS YOU ARE A STATE EMPLOYEE.

Rep. Henry Joy, R-Crystal, will sponsor a bill to make a joke out of what Mainers voted for, the 55 percent State share of education. His bill would cut the percentage of educational spending the State provides to 49 percent.

Why are we in a race to the bottom? It is because the State Employee plan sets an example for employee coverage that the corporations sponsoring many legislators don’t want to admit is working well and could be affordable for many other employers in Maine.

I have been hoping to see a little more involvement from State Employees in the process but today’s cartoon says it all.

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March 19th, 2008 Posted by narsbars | MSEA, MSEA 2008 bargaining survey, MSEA Dues, MSEA ELECTIONS, MSEA contract, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, Maine State Employees, SEIU 1989, TECHNORATI, msea maine, turnmaineblue | no comments