UnionMaine

Trust me, I work for the Government

How Many Candidates for MSEA Vice Pres Job?

As of today there are a possible five candidates for the MSEA Vice President position. Ginette Rivard the current V.P. is running for reelection. Penny Whitney-Asdourian and other unconfirmed candidates. The Stater will have all of the candidates that made the cut off of September 4…….BUT…..

There is at least one candidate who won’t be listed in the Stater as his nomination was not final until today. Me.

A friend and an Executive Board member requested me to run for V.P.. I have always told members that your elected officials should do what they are asked to do by the members and since I was asked I agreed to run and I have been nominated by the Eichel-Crinion chapter out of Augusta.

Second round of the French presidential electi...Image via Wikipedia

I am not running against any other candidate and no one will hear me say anything against another candidate.

I believe I have something of value to offer as your Vice President and that is what I offer, not attacks on my brothers and sisters.

The whole slate of current and possible Veeps have all done good things for our Union, it is my position that if you like the way things have gone the last few years then who you should vote for is clear.

If you want to see change, open government, more member involvement, more information about how our Union is run and to have someone who will have no secret agenda then I will be that person.

I already have a well developed plan to make bargaining more efficient, more representative and open. I have a resolution for convention this October to create a Bargaining Senate that will allow every chapter a voice in bargaining.

There is much more we can do, the focus must be on more than bargaining, more than any one issue. We must change the direction and control of our Union. I will follow this short announcement with details and I am open to have you ask me questions.

I don’t promise answers for everything, if I knew everything I would have picked a better lottery ticket a long time ago. I do promise the truth as I know it. I will give you a clear idea of what I plan to do and how I plan to do it.

All candidates for any elected office in MSEA are offered the opportunity to post on this site, with no editing, just what they want to say. I believe in transparency in the process. As a candidate promising an open Union I think you deserves as much information about all of the candidates as possible so you can make the best decision for us all.

If you have any questions for me, please email me at Tom@UnionMaine.Org

This is the first in a continuing series of informational posts.

Thank you for your consideration
Thomas Maher

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September 11th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | MSEA ELECTIONS, MSEASEIU, Union, union vice president | no comments

Does Congress think Public Option Is Too Good For the Public?

President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the Medica...Image via Wikipedia

President Johnson Signing the Medicare Bill


This is an open letter to our Federal representatives from Maine.

You have all received a request for some public information about Health care.

So far your offices refuse to divulge what benefits I pay for as a tax payer. I am asking again in this letter and proving my reasons for asking.


I am not a lobbyist. I am not a CEO.
Will you answer me?

You, our Representatives have “Public Option” , choices provided by the Government, and run by private insurers. If this is so bad why won’t your offices provide the information requested on your plans? Why are some of you against a Public option for us, not just for you?

I called, and emailed your offices requesting help. I want to have some facts on health care to help me make up my mind.

My questions to your offices were few. I requested a copy of the explanation of benefits for the plan each Congressional representative has chosen. What is covered? How much does it cost? Who pays and how much? Do I continue to pay for your plan when you retire?
Update 10:50 AM Thursday 9-3-09 I just got a call from Congressman Michaud’s office whose staff has promised to try to get the documents requested. Should take over a week” was the quote.

I already know you have no limits and unlike the insurance your constituents have you are never afraid your plan will be canceled simply because you became sick and needed the benefits.

I have heard health care reform called socialized medicine and when Medicare, Veterans care, and more were pointed out as Government run programs many members of Congress sat by quietly either not supporting health care reform or trying to ignore taking a stand.

You and all members of Congress have a public option plan. One of the best plans available with choices that allow you to choose the plan that fits your stage of life, your family and your budget.
Some Republicans and some Democrats are willing to avoid this truth and refuse to let the rest of
America share in the same health care you receive the moment you are sworn in.

We already have a public option for health care. Why can’t I join up? What is it we are asking for?
The public wants what you are reserving for yourself, as a Federal employee, with a public option
How many choices does the public have? If you work for a private employer you are normally limited to whatever they offer and what ever changes they make you can like it or lump it. Federal Employees, Congress included, have the largest selection of plans in the country.

Don’t like your plan? Kids leave home? Married? Want a high deductible plan or a plan that covers everything? Every year a Federal employee, Congress included, can change their health insurance.

You can not be denied coverage even if you have a pre-existing condition.
Is there choice when using a public option? Federal employees are able to choose from Blue Cross, Humana, Aetna, United HealthCare and several more.

A member of Congress can choose:
Health Plan Choices for Congress. Too many, too confusing, too affordable for the public?
TYPES OF PLANS
Fee-for-service plans and health maintenance organizations (HMOs).
Fee-for-Service Plans
You may choose your own physician, hospital, and other health care providers.
Fee-for-service plans include:
  • The Government wide Service Benefit Plan, administered by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association on behalf of Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans, and is open to everyone eligible to enroll under the FEHB Program.
  • Plans sponsored by unions and employee organizations. Some of these plans are open to all Federal employees who hold full or associate memberships in the organizations that sponsor the plans; others are restricted to employees in certain occupational groups and/or agencies. Generally, the employee organization requires a membership fee or dues paid directly to the employee organization, in addition to the premium. This fee is set by the employee organization and is not negotiated with OPM.
Several Health Maintenance Organizations
Your physician is responsible for obtaining any pre-certification required for inpatient admissions or other procedures.
Three types of HMOs are:
  • Group Practice Plans.
  • Individual Practice Plans.
  • Mixed Model Plans.
Point of Service
High Deductible Health Plans
Your health plan establishes for you either a Health Savings Account (HSA) or a Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA).
Consumer-Driven Health Plans
A consumer-driven plan provides you with freedom in spending health care dollars the way you want. The typical plan has common features: member responsibility for certain up-front medical costs, an employer-funded account that you may use to pay these up front costs, and catastrophic coverage with a high deductible. You and your family receive full coverage of in-network preventive care.
Choices, choices, choices. Do you think this is just too confusing for the public?

As a State Employee I have health care. My health care costs nearly $6000.00 a year for family coverage.

Then I have deductibles, then I have co-pays, then I have the Republican party attacking the benefits I have as “golden” while Congress continues to reserve the public option for the select few.
What do you pay Representative? What are your benefits and Co-pays?

I asked your offices and been blown off, ignored, and told to go find it my self. Are you afraid of the truth? Who do you represent, Mainers or the health insurance industry?
Some Federal employees pay under $100.00 per month for single coverage. Congress has the same choices as other Federal employees, so what does it cost? How much is the tax payer paying for you?
I keep hearing “the government will control your doctor, and ration your care.”
Is this true now? When you seek medical care, do you deal with with a government agent or do you make health choices between you and your doctor?
Congress makes the laws, if you didn’t like your health care you would have changed it in the same way the Senate made the hard choice to refuse to raise the minimum wage for years while providing themselves a $30,000.00 a year raise. The Congressional plan you have is the same plan some call “government run”.
The public option is the same plan Congress has and wants to keep for itself. The members of Congress who are violently against a public option view Americans as stupid, lazy, and gullible.
If Congress blocks a public option, then the insurance industry will continue to grow richer. The millions of uninsured will not be able to afford effective insurance just because you pass a mandate.

If you mandate coverage with no public option insurance companies will simply offer a product guaranteed to cover them, not us and we will be paying tithes to companies and receiving no benefits in return.
Why should you be concerned?
The health care debate won’t affect
your coverage and your family will never go without needed care.
Congress will keep their government “Public Option” health care no matter what happens to us.

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September 3rd, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Health Policy, Healthcare reform, MSEA, MSEA ELECTIONS, Medicare, Thomas Maher | no comments

MSEA-SEIU Local 1989 President Hodsdon Steps on Rumors



MSEA-SEIU President Bruce Hodsdon pledged to serve out his full term if reelected this fall.


He has been passing the word at chapter meetings for the past few weeks. There had been rumors swirling that he was interested in resigning right after the election and letting his probable VP, Ginnette Rivard serve the rest of his term.

After weeks of rampant speculation regarding the future of MSEA-SEIU president Bruce Hodsdon, the President faced the rumors head on and stated officially the he will serve 100% of his term if reelected.

The following quote is from memory, and may not be the exact wording used at the time.

“I want to say that I have heard the rumors of my planned resignation and state that I am 100 percent committed to MSEA-SEIU and I look forward to fulfilling my duties in years to come,” Hodsdon said.

“Due to the work of the membership and the time and effort, made by everyone associated with our Union, I believe we are building a stronger future for all of us.”

“I have no plans for another job anywhere besides MSEA-SEIU at this time,” Hodsdon said very definitely.

While many former Union officials migrate from local positions to higher-profile national jobs with their Unions, Bruce Hodsdon doesn’t seem to have any interest in the national scen at this time.

Rumors swirled around unsubstantiated talk about Hodsdon’s plans to quit after election and taking a job with SEIU, following the pattern of many retired Union officials that often plan on quitting and find they can’t give up the work..

Hodsdon has plenty of time in MSEA and State service, as a former VP, Ferry worker and even a stint on the dark side as Human resources. He is currently on the international board of SEIU and has represented Maine’s interests at every chance.

Hodsdon has yet to be reelected and start a second two-year term with MSEA-SEIU but at this time the odds seem in his favor.

Hodsdon has compiled a long, successful record with MSEA-SEIU since taking office two years ago and has been president during disastrous economic conditions but has continued to work towards making our Union more member driven by involving State Employees from all bargaining units in all aspects of the Union from Labor Management committees to bargaining.

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August 10th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | MSEA ELECTIONS, MSEA-SEIU, Maine State Employees | 4 comments

Warning! Deadly new Virus Alert




Government virus warning!

*** VIRUS ALERT *** “The “Government Virus” has been found to be spreading. Courtesy of a conservative think tank, I interrupt this Blog to bring you a warning. You may think that losing your job, your home, running out of unemployment, and losing your health care are bad things. If you think these things are bad. You are at risk! You may already be a carrier! You need tax cuts!

The virus starts slowly. You start to feel a need to eat every day. You see your kids pants cuffs six inches above their ankles and your grow sad for no reason. Living in your car doesn’t feel good any longer. During the final stages you have insatiable cravings to own a home and have a job. The virus has started.

There is only one way to stop the infection. Tax Cuts! Don’t ask for any services from Government. This is how the virus spreads. Whenever possible avoid government immediately. Do not complain about a closed motor vehicle office. Don’t worry about not having State cops or elevator inspectors! Do not complain to your legislators about a lack of service! Learn self control.

Opening the door to the government virus will erase every penny from your wallet, drain your kids college fund and empty your change jar.

Asking for services from the State will reprogram the stripes on your credit and ATM cards, and make deposits to State programs that you don’t support like education even if you don’t have kids. Asking for government services on the web will let the government use subspace field harmonics to scratch any CD’s you attempt to play and erase your hard drive.

Contact with government will turn off your refrigerator so all your ice cream melts and your milk curdles, while doubling your electricity bill..
It will program your phone to text the Democratic National Committee with automatic donations.

Government will mix antifreeze into your fish tank and have the DEP fine you for throwing out the dead fish. Government will tax and then drink all your beer.
Government will leave Planned Parenthood booklets on the coffee table when you are expecting company.

Government will allow gays to have special rights which will immediately cause you to get a divorce, beat your spouse, give up on God and hate your kids.

Government will grow your ear hair into a pony tail.
Government will replace your shampoo with Nair and your Nair with Rogaine, all while sending your current boy/girlfriend pictures of any other “friends” you might have along with copies of your hotel bills.
Government changes all the pre-set buttons on your radio to NPR.

Government will give you diseases you can’t spell to sell you government health care. You could be break out in ugly “rationality” spots before you know it.
Government will send copies of your internet browsing history to your wife or husband and your employer….. With pictures.

If Government is not stopped it will it will leave the toilet seat up and leave your hair dryer plugged in next to a full bathtub. Government will let the dog onto the couch.

Government will replace your instant coffee with Latte mix.
Government will replace all your luncheon meat with Spam. It will replace all your Email with Spam.

It will molecularly rearrange your cologne or perfume, causing it to smell like Bill Clinton on a hot day, near an intern. All of your internet favorites will be changed to left wing Blogs.

An experimental cure is being tried but it is too early to judge the results. Some people are taking all their money, finding an unlocked Mercedes and stuffing all the cash in the car as a last ditch effort. Maybe there is hope.

The Government virus is insidious and subtle. It is dangerous and terrifying to behold. It is also a rather interesting shade of blue.

These are just a few signs of infection.

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February 23rd, 2009 Posted by narsbars | MSEA Dues, MSEA ELECTIONS, MSEA contract, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, Maine DOT, Maine State Employees, SEIU, SEIU 1984, SEIU 1989, msea maine | no comments

Who Do You Want on Your Jury?



State Employees continue to be judged in the press, no on the bottom line. When a politician wants cover, they just fire a few or a lot of State Employees regardless of the real or imagined savings.


Now back to the east coast and what is happening with Unions and State governments in New England.

In New Hampshire SEIU Local 1984 has been in discussion with Gov. John H. Lynch about the 2010-2011 budget.

Gov. Lynch has proposed laying off 250-300 State employees.


SEA in N.H. and MSEA in Maine are trying to show the serious impact these proposals would have on their states.They are both trying to work with, not against the State to find savings.

The State Employees in New Hampshire have committed to working with the Governor and Legislature to seek ways to reduce costs. I hope their Governor and their legislature are not also among the hearing challenged when it comes to working with State employees rather than against them.

New Hampshire estimates the State deficit at $500 million to $1 billion without drastic cuts.

This is where it feels like looking in a mirror. Cut funds for the sick and needy while making some contractors rich.

New Hampshire would:

  • Lay off 250-300 State employees; the largest cuts coming in the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Corrections

  • Cut funding for nearly 400 vacant positions, always a budget tactic and maybe the only sign of government pre-planning (having vacancies to cut) that you can find.
  • Closing the Tobey School. The Tobey School, similar to the soon to be closed Levinson CenterMaine, is an alternative day and residential school for students identified as educationally disabled. Almost exactly like Maine there will be an estimated loss of services for a population of children at risk and a loss of an estimated 50 State jobs.
  • Close the Lakes Region Correctional Facility, causing the loss of 90-95 positions.
  • Unlike Maine, New Hampshire retirees don’t have constitutional protection for their retirees health care and the State wants to change the health insurance premiums for State retirees and shift all retirees onto the active State health plan (estimated savings $10 million), and an estimated $10 million increase for retirees.
  • In what many Union employees might see as a long overdue move the State proposes to offer a different health policy for what we call Confidential State employees, with the same offer made to Union employees.
  • In a move that spells Déjà vu to Mainers there is a proposal to sell the Liquor Commission warehouse, lease the four State Welcome Centers and reorganize and close many liquor stores statewide. The governor in a good move also proposed building new liquor stores in expanding market areas.
  • Close eight District Courts


Facing reality, the Governor also proposed some revenue increases:

  • Increase the tobacco tax by 35 cents
  • Increase the room and meals tax by three-quarters of one percent
  • Increase the cost of registering each vehicle by $10
  • Taxing gambling winnings over $600. They are way behind Maine us there.
  • Changing the toll collection system. Another echo from Maine.


The N.H. Governor didn’t propose any increases to the gasoline tax or broad-based sales or income taxes, but like Governor Baldacci’s proposal to “tax only State Employees” by increasing their cost for health care the proposals place a tax burden onto select groups of public servants.

Some of the N.H. and Maine’s “rainy day funds” are being used to balance the current budgets. These funds were built up in good economic times to be used to help keep us afloat in bad economic times. The State workforce is seen by some as being “built up” and a target to support the State in bad times also. Unfortunately, the Maine State workforce is at the lowest head count in over twenty five years. State Employees as usual are expected to pay a price higher than others in the name of publicity, not fiscal responsibility.

All Union members share many of the same concerns:

  • Bumping rights were one of the most important Union protections ever put into a contract. Those rights come to the fore in tough economic times. We must fight to protect and improve bumping rights. A layoff is one of the most devastating events a person faces. An employee facing a layoff must be given that guarantees management can not cherry pick people to lay off.

  • When looking for savings state employees in Maine have identified possibly hundreds of unreviewed positions filled by private contractors. Many of these outside contractors and consultants cost the State far more than the average State worker’s salary. The Governor, agencies, and the legislature must provide better oversight of the thousands of contracts, vendors and services the State pays for that could be done more efficiently and cost-effectively by State workers.

  • We must not forget our brothers and sisters losing their jobs on February 28. No bumping rights after ten, twenty or thirty years of service. They were targeted and had no where to go. Turning the Levinson center over to private hands will not save the State any money and will severely impact if not harm, those dependent on Levinson to care for the State’s most at risk children. Do you hire a baby sitter on “the lowest bid” approach?

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February 19th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | MSEA, MSEA Dues, MSEA ELECTIONS, MSEA contract, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, SEIU, SEIU 1984, SEIU 1989, STATE EMPLOYEES, State lay offs, msea maine, state employee lay offs | no comments

Who Do You Want on Your Jury?



State Employees continue to be judged in the press, no on the bottom line. When a politician wants cover, they just fire a few or a lot of State Employees regardless of the real or imagined savings.


Now back to the east coast and what is happening with Unions and State governments in New England.

In New Hampshire SEIU Local 1984 has been in discussion with Gov. John H. Lynch about the 2010-2011 budget.

Gov. Lynch has proposed laying off 250-300 State employees.


SEA in N.H. and MSEA in Maine are trying to show the serious impact these proposals would have on their states.They are both trying to work with, not against the State to find savings.

The State Employees in New Hampshire have committed to working with the Governor and Legislature to seek ways to reduce costs. I hope their Governor and their legislature are not also among the hearing challenged when it comes to working with State employees rather than against them.

New Hampshire estimates the State deficit at $500 million to $1 billion without drastic cuts.

This is where it feels like looking in a mirror. Cut funds for the sick and needy while making some contractors rich.

New Hampshire would:

  • Lay off 250-300 State employees; the largest cuts coming in the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Corrections

  • Cut funding for nearly 400 vacant positions, always a budget tactic and maybe the only sign of government pre-planning (having vacancies to cut) that you can find.
  • Closing the Tobey School. The Tobey School, similar to the soon to be closed Levinson CenterMaine, is an alternative day and residential school for students identified as educationally disabled. Almost exactly like Maine there will be an estimated loss of services for a population of children at risk and a loss of an estimated 50 State jobs.
  • Close the Lakes Region Correctional Facility, causing the loss of 90-95 positions.
  • Unlike Maine, New Hampshire retirees don’t have constitutional protection for their retirees health care and the State wants to change the health insurance premiums for State retirees and shift all retirees onto the active State health plan (estimated savings $10 million), and an estimated $10 million increase for retirees.
  • In what many Union employees might see as a long overdue move the State proposes to offer a different health policy for what we call Confidential State employees, with the same offer made to Union employees.
  • In a move that spells Déjà vu to Mainers there is a proposal to sell the Liquor Commission warehouse, lease the four State Welcome Centers and reorganize and close many liquor stores statewide. The governor in a good move also proposed building new liquor stores in expanding market areas.
  • Close eight District Courts


Facing reality, the Governor also proposed some revenue increases:

  • Increase the tobacco tax by 35 cents
  • Increase the room and meals tax by three-quarters of one percent
  • Increase the cost of registering each vehicle by $10
  • Taxing gambling winnings over $600. They are way behind Maine us there.
  • Changing the toll collection system. Another echo from Maine.


The N.H. Governor didn’t propose any increases to the gasoline tax or broad-based sales or income taxes, but like Governor Baldacci’s proposal to “tax only State Employees” by increasing their cost for health care the proposals place a tax burden onto select groups of public servants.

Some of the N.H. and Maine’s “rainy day funds” are being used to balance the current budgets. These funds were built up in good economic times to be used to help keep us afloat in bad economic times. The State workforce is seen by some as being “built up” and a target to support the State in bad times also. Unfortunately, the Maine State workforce is at the lowest head count in over twenty five years. State Employees as usual are expected to pay a price higher than others in the name of publicity, not fiscal responsibility.

All Union members share many of the same concerns:

  • Bumping rights were one of the most important Union protections ever put into a contract. Those rights come to the fore in tough economic times. We must fight to protect and improve bumping rights. A layoff is one of the most devastating events a person faces. An employee facing a layoff must be given that guarantees management can not cherry pick people to lay off.

  • When looking for savings state employees in Maine have identified possibly hundreds of unreviewed positions filled by private contractors. Many of these outside contractors and consultants cost the State far more than the average State worker’s salary. The Governor, agencies, and the legislature must provide better oversight of the thousands of contracts, vendors and services the State pays for that could be done more efficiently and cost-effectively by State workers.

  • We must not forget our brothers and sisters losing their jobs on February 28. No bumping rights after ten, twenty or thirty years of service. They were targeted and had no where to go. Turning the Levinson center over to private hands will not save the State any money and will severely impact if not harm, those dependent on Levinson to care for the State’s most at risk children. Do you hire a baby sitter on “the lowest bid” approach?

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February 19th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | MSEA, MSEA Dues, MSEA ELECTIONS, MSEA contract, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, SEIU, SEIU 1984, SEIU 1989, STATE EMPLOYEES, State lay offs, msea maine, state employee lay offs | no comments

Who Do You Want on Your Jury?



State Employees continue to be judged in the press, no on the bottom line. When a politician wants cover, they just fire a few or a lot of State Employees regardless of the real or imagined savings.


Now back to the east coast and what is happening with Unions and State governments in New England.

In New Hampshire SEIU Local 1984 has been in discussion with Gov. John H. Lynch about the 2010-2011 budget.

Gov. Lynch has proposed laying off 250-300 State employees.


SEA in N.H. and MSEA in Maine are trying to show the serious impact these proposals would have on their states.They are both trying to work with, not against the State to find savings.

The State Employees in New Hampshire have committed to working with the Governor and Legislature to seek ways to reduce costs. I hope their Governor and their legislature are not also among the hearing challenged when it comes to working with State employees rather than against them.

New Hampshire estimates the State deficit at $500 million to $1 billion without drastic cuts.

This is where it feels like looking in a mirror. Cut funds for the sick and needy while making some contractors rich.

New Hampshire would:

  • Lay off 250-300 State employees; the largest cuts coming in the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Corrections

  • Cut funding for nearly 400 vacant positions, always a budget tactic and maybe the only sign of government pre-planning (having vacancies to cut) that you can find.
  • Closing the Tobey School. The Tobey School, similar to the soon to be closed Levinson CenterMaine, is an alternative day and residential school for students identified as educationally disabled. Almost exactly like Maine there will be an estimated loss of services for a population of children at risk and a loss of an estimated 50 State jobs.
  • Close the Lakes Region Correctional Facility, causing the loss of 90-95 positions.
  • Unlike Maine, New Hampshire retirees don’t have constitutional protection for their retirees health care and the State wants to change the health insurance premiums for State retirees and shift all retirees onto the active State health plan (estimated savings $10 million), and an estimated $10 million increase for retirees.
  • In what many Union employees might see as a long overdue move the State proposes to offer a different health policy for what we call Confidential State employees, with the same offer made to Union employees.
  • In a move that spells Déjà vu to Mainers there is a proposal to sell the Liquor Commission warehouse, lease the four State Welcome Centers and reorganize and close many liquor stores statewide. The governor in a good move also proposed building new liquor stores in expanding market areas.
  • Close eight District Courts


Facing reality, the Governor also proposed some revenue increases:

  • Increase the tobacco tax by 35 cents
  • Increase the room and meals tax by three-quarters of one percent
  • Increase the cost of registering each vehicle by $10
  • Taxing gambling winnings over $600. They are way behind Maine us there.
  • Changing the toll collection system. Another echo from Maine.


The N.H. Governor didn’t propose any increases to the gasoline tax or broad-based sales or income taxes, but like Governor Baldacci’s proposal to “tax only State Employees” by increasing their cost for health care the proposals place a tax burden onto select groups of public servants.

Some of the N.H. and Maine’s “rainy day funds” are being used to balance the current budgets. These funds were built up in good economic times to be used to help keep us afloat in bad economic times. The State workforce is seen by some as being “built up” and a target to support the State in bad times also. Unfortunately, the Maine State workforce is at the lowest head count in over twenty five years. State Employees as usual are expected to pay a price higher than others in the name of publicity, not fiscal responsibility.

All Union members share many of the same concerns:

  • Bumping rights were one of the most important Union protections ever put into a contract. Those rights come to the fore in tough economic times. We must fight to protect and improve bumping rights. A layoff is one of the most devastating events a person faces. An employee facing a layoff must be given that guarantees management can not cherry pick people to lay off.

  • When looking for savings state employees in Maine have identified possibly hundreds of unreviewed positions filled by private contractors. Many of these outside contractors and consultants cost the State far more than the average State worker’s salary. The Governor, agencies, and the legislature must provide better oversight of the thousands of contracts, vendors and services the State pays for that could be done more efficiently and cost-effectively by State workers.

  • We must not forget our brothers and sisters losing their jobs on February 28. No bumping rights after ten, twenty or thirty years of service. They were targeted and had no where to go. Turning the Levinson center over to private hands will not save the State any money and will severely impact if not harm, those dependent on Levinson to care for the State’s most at risk children. Do you hire a baby sitter on “the lowest bid” approach?

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February 19th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | MSEA, MSEA Dues, MSEA ELECTIONS, MSEA contract, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, SEIU, SEIU 1984, SEIU 1989, STATE EMPLOYEES, State lay offs, msea maine, state employee lay offs | no comments

Who Do You Want on Your Jury?



State Employees continue to be judged in the press, no on the bottom line. When a politician wants cover, they just fire a few or a lot of State Employees regardless of the real or imagined savings.


Now back to the east coast and what is happening with Unions and State governments in New England.

In New Hampshire SEIU Local 1984 has been in discussion with Gov. John H. Lynch about the 2010-2011 budget.

Gov. Lynch has proposed laying off 250-300 State employees.


SEA in N.H. and MSEA in Maine are trying to show the serious impact these proposals would have on their states.They are both trying to work with, not against the State to find savings.

The State Employees in New Hampshire have committed to working with the Governor and Legislature to seek ways to reduce costs. I hope their Governor and their legislature are not also among the hearing challenged when it comes to working with State employees rather than against them.

New Hampshire estimates the State deficit at $500 million to $1 billion without drastic cuts.

This is where it feels like looking in a mirror. Cut funds for the sick and needy while making some contractors rich.

New Hampshire would:

  • Lay off 250-300 State employees; the largest cuts coming in the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Corrections

  • Cut funding for nearly 400 vacant positions, always a budget tactic and maybe the only sign of government pre-planning (having vacancies to cut) that you can find.
  • Closing the Tobey School. The Tobey School, similar to the soon to be closed Levinson CenterMaine, is an alternative day and residential school for students identified as educationally disabled. Almost exactly like Maine there will be an estimated loss of services for a population of children at risk and a loss of an estimated 50 State jobs.
  • Close the Lakes Region Correctional Facility, causing the loss of 90-95 positions.
  • Unlike Maine, New Hampshire retirees don’t have constitutional protection for their retirees health care and the State wants to change the health insurance premiums for State retirees and shift all retirees onto the active State health plan (estimated savings $10 million), and an estimated $10 million increase for retirees.
  • In what many Union employees might see as a long overdue move the State proposes to offer a different health policy for what we call Confidential State employees, with the same offer made to Union employees.
  • In a move that spells Déjà vu to Mainers there is a proposal to sell the Liquor Commission warehouse, lease the four State Welcome Centers and reorganize and close many liquor stores statewide. The governor in a good move also proposed building new liquor stores in expanding market areas.
  • Close eight District Courts


Facing reality, the Governor also proposed some revenue increases:

  • Increase the tobacco tax by 35 cents
  • Increase the room and meals tax by three-quarters of one percent
  • Increase the cost of registering each vehicle by $10
  • Taxing gambling winnings over $600. They are way behind Maine us there.
  • Changing the toll collection system. Another echo from Maine.


The N.H. Governor didn’t propose any increases to the gasoline tax or broad-based sales or income taxes, but like Governor Baldacci’s proposal to “tax only State Employees” by increasing their cost for health care the proposals place a tax burden onto select groups of public servants.

Some of the N.H. and Maine’s “rainy day funds” are being used to balance the current budgets. These funds were built up in good economic times to be used to help keep us afloat in bad economic times. The State workforce is seen by some as being “built up” and a target to support the State in bad times also. Unfortunately, the Maine State workforce is at the lowest head count in over twenty five years. State Employees as usual are expected to pay a price higher than others in the name of publicity, not fiscal responsibility.

All Union members share many of the same concerns:

  • Bumping rights were one of the most important Union protections ever put into a contract. Those rights come to the fore in tough economic times. We must fight to protect and improve bumping rights. A layoff is one of the most devastating events a person faces. An employee facing a layoff must be given that guarantees management can not cherry pick people to lay off.

  • When looking for savings state employees in Maine have identified possibly hundreds of unreviewed positions filled by private contractors. Many of these outside contractors and consultants cost the State far more than the average State worker’s salary. The Governor, agencies, and the legislature must provide better oversight of the thousands of contracts, vendors and services the State pays for that could be done more efficiently and cost-effectively by State workers.

  • We must not forget our brothers and sisters losing their jobs on February 28. No bumping rights after ten, twenty or thirty years of service. They were targeted and had no where to go. Turning the Levinson center over to private hands will not save the State any money and will severely impact if not harm, those dependent on Levinson to care for the State’s most at risk children. Do you hire a baby sitter on “the lowest bid” approach?

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February 19th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | MSEA, MSEA Dues, MSEA ELECTIONS, MSEA contract, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, SEIU, SEIU 1984, SEIU 1989, STATE EMPLOYEES, State lay offs, msea maine, state employee lay offs | no comments

Success or Failure?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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



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

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