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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

Before there were Unions Free Market Capatalism Was Free to Grow

I’ve got nothing tonight, but a civics lesson and a history lesson. Our tax dollars paid for the article below and it is free for all of us.

Many some ones paid for our right to be free and to have a chance to organize and to try to earn a living for our selves and our families. We have to learn the history of the so called free market and the real results of deregulation or we will be doomed to repeat them.

Http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/hine-photos/

Teaching With Documents:
Photographs of Lewis Hine: Documentation of Child Labor

Background

“There is work that profits children, and there is work that brings profit only to employers. The object of employing children is not to train them, but to get high profits from their work.”

– Lewis Hine, 1908

After the Civil War, the availability of natural resources, new inventions, and a receptive market combined to fuel an industrial boom. The demand for labor grew, and in the late 19th and early 20th centuries many children were drawn into the labor force.

Factory wages were so low that children often had to work to help support their families. The number of children under the age of 15 who worked in industrial jobs for wages climbed from 1.5 million in 1890 to 2 million in 1910.

Businesses liked to hire children because they worked in unskilled jobs for lower wages than adults, and their small hands made them more adept at handling small parts and tools. Children were seen as part of the family economy.

Immigrants and rural migrants often sent their children to work, or worked alongside them. However, child laborers barely experienced their youth. Going to school to prepare for a better future was an opportunity these underage workers rarely enjoyed.

As children worked in industrial settings, they began to develop serious health problems. Many child laborers were underweight. Some suffered from stunted growth and curvature of the spine.

They developed diseases related to their work environment, such as tuberculosis and bronchitis for those who worked in coal mines or cotton mills. They faced high accident rates due to physical and mental fatigue caused by hard work and long hours.

By the early 1900s many Americans were calling child labor “child slavery” and were demanding an end to it. They argued that long hours of work deprived children of the opportunity of an education to prepare themselves for a better future.

Instead, child labor condemmed them to a future of illiteracy, poverty, and continuing misery. In 1904 a group of progressive reformers founded the National Child Labor Committee, an organization whose goal was the abolition of child labor. The organization received a charter from Congress in 1907.

It hired teams of investigators to gather evidence of children working in harsh conditions and then organized exhibitions with photographs and statistics to dramatize the plight of these children. These efforts resulted in the establishment in 1912 of the Children’s Bureau as a federal information clearinghouse. In 1913 the Children’s Bureau was transferred to the Department of Labor.

Lewis Hine, a New York City schoolteacher and photographer, believed that a picture could tell a powerful story.

He felt so strongly about the abuse of children as workers that he quit his teaching job and became an investigative photographer for the National Child Labor Committee. Hine traveled around the country photographing the working conditions of children in all types of industries.

He photographed children in coal mines, in meatpacking houses, in textile mills, and in canneries. He took pictures of children working in the streets as shoe shiners, newsboys, and hawkers.

In many instances he tricked his way into factories to take the pictures that factory managers did not want the public to see. He was careful to document every photograph with precise facts and figures.

To obtain captions for his pictures, he interviewed the children on some pretext and then scribbled his notes with his hand hidden inside his pocket.

Because he used subterfuge to take his photographs, he believed that he had to be “double-sure that my photo data was 100% pure–no retouching or fakery of any kind.” Hine defined a good photograph as “a reproduction of impressions made upon the photographer which he desires to repeat to others.” Because he realized his photographs were subjective, he described his work as “photo-interpretation.”

Hine believed that if people could see for themselves the abuses and injustice of child labor, they would demand laws to end those evils. By 1916, Congress passed the Keating-Owens Act that established the following child labor standards: a minimum age of 14 for workers in manufacturing and 16 for workers in mining; a maximum workday of 8 hours; prohibition of night work for workers under age 16; and a documentary proof of age.

Unfortunately, this law was later ruled unconstitutional on the ground that congressional power to regulate interstate commerce did not extend to the conditions of labor. Effective action against child labor had to await the New Deal. Reformers, however, did succeed in forcing legislation at the state level banning child labor and setting maximum hours. By 1920 the number of child laborers was cut to nearly half of what it had been in 1910.

Lewis Hine died in poverty, neglected by all but a few. His reputation continued to grow, however, and now he is recognized as a master American photographer.

His photographs remind us what it was like to be a child and to labor like an adult at a time when labor was harsher than it is now.

Hine’s images of working children stirred America’s conscience and helped change the nation’s labor laws. Through his exercise of free speech and freedom of the press, Lewis Hine made a difference in the lives of American workers and, most importantly, American children.

Hundreds of his photographs are available online from the National Archives through the Archival Research Catalog (ARC) .

Resources

Foner, Eric, and John A. Garraty, eds. The Reader’s Companion to American History. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1991.

Nash, Gary B., et al. The American People: Creating a Nation and a Society. New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1990.

Tindall, George Brown, with David E. Shi. America: A Narrative History. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1992.

The Documents

Garment Workers, New York, NY
Click to Enlarge

Garment Workers, New York, NY
January 25, 1908
National Archives and Records Administration
Records of the Department of Commerce and Labor, Children’s Bureau
Record Group 102
ARC Identifier: 523065

Basket Seller, Cincinnati, OH
Click to Enlarge

Basket Seller, Cincinnati, OH
August 22, 1908
National Archives and Records Administration
Records of the Department of Commerce and Labor, Children’s Bureau
Record Group 102
ARC Identifier: 523070

Boys and Girls Selling Radishes
Click to Enlarge

Boys and Girls Selling Radishes
August 22, 1908
National Archives and Records Administration
Records of the Department of Commerce and Labor, Children’s Bureau
Record Group 102
ARC Identifier: 523071

oy Working in a Shoe-Shining Parlor, Indianapolis, IN
Click to Enlarge

Boy Working in a Shoe-Shining Parlor, Indianapolis, IN
August 1908
National Archives and Records Administration
Records of the Department of Commerce and Labor, Children’s Bureau
Record Group 102
ARC Identifier: 523072

Top of Page

Boys in a Cigar Factory, Indianapolis, IN
Click to Enlarge

Boys in a Cigar Factory, Indianapolis, IN
August 1908
National Archives and Records Administration
Records of the Department of Commerce and Labor, Children’s Bureau
Record Group 102
ARC Identifier: 523076

Boy Running 'Trip Rope' in a Mine, Welch, WV
Click to Enlarge

Boy Running “Trip Rope” in a Mine, Welch, WV
September 1908
National Archives and Records Administration
Records of the Department of Commerce and Labor, Children’s Bureau
Record Group 102
ARC Identifier: 523077

Children Working in a Bottle Factory, Indianapolis, IN
Click to Enlarge

Children Working in a Bottle Factory, Indianapolis, IN
August 1908
National Archives and Records Administration
Records of the Department of Commerce and Labor, Children’s Bureau
Record Group 102
ARC Identifier: 523080

Child Workers Outside Factory
Click to Enlarge

The Noon Hour at an Indianapolis Cannery, Indianapolis IN
August 1908
National Archives and Records Administration
Records of the Department of Commerce and Labor, Children’s Bureau
Record Group 102
ARC Identifier: 523088

Glass Blower and Mold Boy, Grafton, WV
Click to Enlarge

Glass Blower and Mold Boy, Grafton, WV
October 1908
National Archives and Records Administration
Records of the Department of Commerce and Labor, Children’s Bureau
Record Group 102
ARC Identifier: 523090

Girls at Weaving Machines, Evansville, IN
Click to Enlarge

Girls at Weaving Machines, Evansville, IN
October 1908
National Archives and Records Administration
Records of the Department of Commerce and Labor, Children’s Bureau
Record Group 102
ARC Identifier: 523100

Top of Page

Young Boys Schucking Oysters, Apalachicola, FL
Click to Enlarge

Young Boys Schucking Oysters, Apalachicola, FL
January 25, 1909

National Archives and Records Administration
Records of the Department of Commerce and Labor, Children’s Bureau
Record Group 102
ARC Identifier: 523162

Girl Working in Box Factory, Tampa, FL
Click to Enlarge

Girl Working in Box Factory, Tampa, FL
January 28, 1909
National Archives and Records Administration
Records of the Department of Commerce and Labor, Children’s Bureau
Record Group 102
ARC Identifier: 523166

Nine-Year Old Newsgirl, Hartford, CT
Click to Enlarge

Nine-Year Old Newsgirl, Hartford, CT
March 6, 1909
National Archives and Records Administration
Records of the Department of Commerce and Labor, Children’s Bureau
Record Group 102
ARC Identifier: 523174

Boy Picking Berries, Near Baltimore, MD
Click to Enlarge

Boy Picking Berries, Near Baltimore, MD
June 8, 1909
National Archives and Records Administration
Records of the Department of Commerce and Labor, Children’s Bureau
Record Group 102
ARC Identifier: 523205

Workers Stringing Beans, Baltimore, MD
Click to Enlarge

Workers Stringing Beans, Baltimore, MD
June 7, 1909
National Archives and Records Administration
Records of the Department of Commerce and Labor, Children’s Bureau
Record Group 102
ARC Identifier: 523215

Boys Working in an Arcade Bowling Alley, Trenton, NJ
Click to Enlarge

Boys Working in an Arcade Bowling Alley, Trenton, NJ
December 20, 1909
National Archives and Records Administration
Records of the Department of Commerce and Labor, Children’s Bureau
Record Group 102
ARC Identifier: 523246

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June 23rd, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Labor, Labor Movement, Labor rights, Lewis Hine, MSEA, MSEASEIU, child labor | no comments

The State of the Unions

State seal of ConnecticutImage via Wikipedia


Connecticut

May 8, 2008

Twenty Nine bargaining units, which signed off on the

SEBAC agreement, agreed to a wage freeze this year

and a 2.5 percent wage increase in each of the

following years.

New York

June 5 2009

ALBANY — Gov. David A Paterson and the state’s public employee unions announced an agreement on Friday that would reduce pension benefits for future public employees

The Governor gave the unions significant incentives and dropped earlier demands for concessions from current employees.

One critic said the agreement shows the power of the state employee unions, whose workers this year beat back a pay freeze, a one-week furlough and then layoffs.

Vermont

June 04, 2009

Floyd Nease, Majority Leader in the Vermont House released this statement in response to the Vermont State Employees Associations filing of an injunction to stop the firing of state workers:

The Governors determination to fire our state workforce regardless of the impact on services to Vermonters is irresponsible and may well be illegal. The legislatures budget makes it clear that firings of this magnitude should undergo scrutiny and be accountable to Vermonters. The administration has clearly overreached. I applaud the VSEAs efforts to stop it.

When times are good workers in the private sector mock State Employees for working for their low wages. When times were good and stock options, profit sharing, bonuses, Christmas bonuses were all the rage, my salary was a joke. I got a much lower salary, a couple of more holidays and a pension. When the economy fell, the private sector folks who were living high, think my salary is a fair target.

I want to keep my job and take care of my family. I believe government has a valuable and necessary place in providing some services to our society; Government should always try to be efficient and responsible with our citizen’s dollars.

How about instead of cutting state jobs for publicity and votes, why not make cuts that make sense? Why not work to reduce duplication in state agencies, and why not remove the administrative overload that any state employee can point out?

Irony

May 6, 2009: Governor Jim Doyle declares May 6, 2009 as State Employee Recognition Day and thanks state workers for their superior efforts.

May 8, 2009: Governor Jim Doyle announces layoffs, furloughs, and pay cuts for state employees.

The cry continues to say good riddance to State Employees State employees didn’t create our state’s budget deficits

Mainers should remember that these are not faceless bureaucrats in Augusta. These employees investigate consumer complaints, prison guards, parole officers, issue driver’s licenses, monitor air and water quality, provide safe homes for abused children, and so many important jobs. They are your neighbors, family members and friends who inspect our bridges and roads to make sure we are safe for us and our families.

We work for you, we respect you; please don’t take cutting our pay or putting us out of work lightly.

Starbucks buckles under, Settles Another Labor Dispute.

Jun 02, 2009

Starbucks just settled the sixth labor dispute in three years! According to the settlement, Starbucks must now allow Minneapolis-area workers to discuss unions and post union materials in break areas, and the company can no longer kick union sympathizers out of its stores.

Starbucks routinely prevents employees from working enough hours to qualify for the company’s health insurance. When, workers attempt to remedy this problem by forming a union, Starbucks violates labor laws by firing or intimidating them, going so far as to actively oppose the Employee Free Choice Act.

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June 8th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Labor, MSEA, Maine State Employees, Pension, SEIU | no comments

Is that collar getting tight?

No Cartoon, No jokes, this is too serious for humor.

I must put in a disclaimer. I am not an attorney. I am not giving legal advice or counsel.
This is not an official or unofficial Union communication. This is my opinion and my opinion alone.

Ask a Union representative before implementing any of these suggestion. Take any questions to a professional.

Since the State has money troubles State Employee are expected to chip in, and we have always been willing to chip in if we were only asked.

The legislature refused to bargain and claimed that since they could club us, we had given concessions. A request to help would have worked, but they saw us as they must see themselves.

Now it is going too far.

This is aimed solely at Overtime eligible employees. I will go over what we can do about abuses of the system for salaried employees in another post.

Hourly employees are being told that no overtime is allowed and then given fifty hours of work to do in a week. Upper management is hinting that if you can’t do your work………..maybe you will be in trouble.

First always do what your manager orders you to do, unless it is a clearly illegal or personally dangerous action.
You and your Union can file a grievance later but it is hard to fight insubordination.

This is the advice I am giving to State Employees.

Many State Employees are working over 40 hours every week, but not allowed to collect overtime. Are you and your friends being told not to write down time you work?. If you don’t YOU are the one falsifying a time sheet.

This is the only solution I can see. You must refuse to work over 40 hours in a week unless you are paid. No free work. It is against the law to give you personal days in place of OT.

If you have meetings four hours away, go there, let management know you can not stay unless OT is approved if the end of the day will put you over 40 hours in a week. Vacation, Sick, and Holiday hours do not count.

If time is authorized or refused, act according to what they say. Remember, you must obey any directions given, then file a grievance, if the boss says stay, you stay, if the boss says go, you go. Then the employee says “Here is your grievance”.

At the end of 40 hours even if it is on a Wednesday or Thursday make sure you tell your supervisor your plan to be back at your reporting station at the end of 40 and go home if OT is not authorized.

You must request permission in every case, you must follow directions even if permission is not given, and you must fill out an accurate time sheet. If OT is refused, take notes, save emails, and go home!

Hourly Employees can be given personal days in addition to OT, but not in place of. That is an illegal practice under Federal law.

The Fair Labor Standards Act makes it illegal for you to falsify your time sheet. It is also illegal for an employer to refuse to pay hourly employees for hours worked over 40 even if they have a policy against it.

On the other hand you can be disciplined for filling out a false time sheet, or for working over 40 hours if there is a policy in place.

If your management is aware of this happening on an ongoing basis you can get Federal protection.

State employees must only work for what they are paid for. The dedication we have always brought to our jobs, the willingness to give a little more has been laughed at.

We are not respected for the free work.

No more Free Work. We will give them everything they are paying for.

They like to pretend respect for our labor but they think like mill owners of old using their victims with no respect.

These are our politicians. When they want power they promise or say anything to get elected but when they get the power they forget about the voters, and discard their ideals.

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June 4th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | MSEA, SEIU 1989, shut down days | no comments

We have lost a Friend

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Union Members Kick Pirates Off Their Ship

Union Members fight off Pirates on the pirated ship, the US Maersk. Bravery and Union training credit get the credit.

Yesterday the crew of the pirated US Maersk Alabama regained control of their ship. Aboard the ship were UNION MEMBERS, you know, the do nothing, Union thugs that only know how to do nothing for something. The intensive training they received for this type of situation may have had some influence, even if it did cut into dividends.

In an interview with the father of the head of security on the Maersk NPR was told that the crew had all been given very specific and thourough training by professional on how to handle a pirate take over.

The right wing, including Boston’s own Howie Carr feel we should break international law and bomb these ships, sorry about the crew, they would be collateral damage. Pat Buchanan thinks we should bomb Somalia! I am sure if the crew died Howie would play the Ted Knight laugh track he plays for any death and suffering he reports.

SIU Profile
The Seafarers International Union, Atlantic, Gulf, Lakes and Inland Waters District/NMU, AFL-CIO, represents unlicensed United States merchant mariners sailing aboard U.S.-flag vessels in the deep sea, Great Lakes and inland trades. The union also represents licensed U.S. mariners in the Great Lakes and inland sectors.

According to the SIU ships sailing under US flags carry union crews. Unions have always insisted that their members are trained to handle the job and now that they may face pirates they have insisted on anti terrorism training. Obviously it worked.

9/11/01, Union members (firefighters/police) are running into burning buildings when everyone else is running for their lives. When Sully, the pilot of Flight 1549 knew his plane was going down, the same way his pension and pay had crashed, he landed safely in the Hudson River thanks to his experience and his Union negotiated training. All of the fallen police officers during the last two weeks, Union members.

No Union is perfect but look at the evidence you have been seeing everyday, the evidence the right wing nuts don’t admit, Unions can save lives, they may just save the economy by showing the way. When the UAW has to compromise it is time for the boardroom to share the pain.
President Obama and the Democrats will pass some form of the Employee Free Choice Act, I hope it is not a version that has been gutted to appease the rich. A strong workforce is the core of a strong society.

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April 9th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | MSEA, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, maersk, pirates, sefarers, siu | no comments

Unemployment Benefits Running Out

The State of Maine has a hiring freeze, wants to lay off employees and do away with longevity. There was no hiring freeze in the Dept. of Labor. The DOL had to hire recently due to the massive numbers of unemployed in Maine.

New Budget Gap: In the midst of contract negotiations for State employees, State budget writers predict a new budget gap but we won’t know how bad the news will be until May. The state is expected to lower revenue estimates. Further job losses mean the state will see declining sales tax and income tax revenue. Where are the “summer complaints”? I just realized how much I love tourists and traffic jams.

In the rest of the Nation: Hundreds of Thousands Set to Lose Unemployment Benefits A good friend of mine has been unemployed nearly two years now. He got an early start on the Bush depression. He sent hundreds of resumes, has made hundreds more phone calls and has called in every favor from everyone he knows. He is over 50 and the economy is down the tubes.

It’s ugly out there: Even the extended unemployment benefits are ending, and it is getting harder to find a job. California is moving to make benefits available up to 79 weeks. Letting people eat is a better stimulus than paying for a banker’s Bentley.

PHOTO SOURCE: http://www.flickr.com/photos/minusman/3370951415/

December 2008 S.C. Nearly 70,000 people will run out of extended unemployment benefits in South Carolina.

Schwarzenegger Opens California Fairgrounds to Homeless March 2009 California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said a tent city for the homeless in the capital city of Sacramento will be shut down and its residents allowed to stay at the state fairgrounds.

California: State OKs legislation accepting $3 billion in federal stimulus money. Gov. Schwarzenegger will sign. The maximum period for benefits will increase to 79 weeks from 59.

March 2009 N.J. Unemployment claims force state to borrow to cover benefits. New Jersey unable to pay unemployment claims without borrowing from the federal government, said Gov. Jon S. Corzine.

March 2009 Schwarzenegger Opens California Fairgrounds to Homeless Camp California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said a tent city for the homeless in the capital city of Sacramento will be shut down and its residents allowed to stay at the state fairgrounds. “We cannot look away and pretend like this does not happen, because it is happening and we must take action,” Schwarzenegger said. “And that is why we are doing all we can to do right by the people who are living in these difficult circumstances in these difficult times.”

Unemployed? If not now, when? In the Bush years, when claimants ran out of benefits they were dropped from the total unemployment numbers. The reason Bush refused to add unemployment benefits for as long as possible was that losing your benefits under Bush meant you were not counted as unemployed, you were no longer a concern. 500,000 to 750,000 of your neighbors could lose their extended benefits by the second half of this year. Some will find jobs, but it looks like a depression out there, layoffs are continuing to double digits in some states and is at the best stable in some states. The National jobless rate is predicted to hit 10 percent by year’s end. 10% by year’s end may be the optimistic outlook.

Bleeding jobs: The U.S. lost 663,000 jobs in March, and the jobless rate is the highest it has been in twenty five years. Since December 2007 5.1 million jobs have gone and not been replaced. Many of the jobs that have been replaced have been replaced by lower paying jobs, with poor pay and little or no benefits.

Even CEOs being hit: The head of GM, Richard Wagoner was fired in March and received only a 23,000,000.00 dollar severance package, He has no prospects to lead another major car company.
The long term lack of jobs even more than the total unemployment rate highlights the scope and duration of the recession, which began in December 2007.
Damn that Bill Clinton! Damn that Obama! They took what Bush built and gave us this mess.

If these conditions last until May 2009, this will be the longest since the Great Depression. Every prediction for how bad this could get has been wrong. Every prediction of job losses and duration has been wrong. This is lasting longer and hurting more people than any politician or economist predicted.

The depression may get worse. The extended benefits that are running out now were based on very optimistic predictions of where we would be this year. It is far worse than predicted. Unless you work for AIG you are afraid to lose your job or you are afraid you will not even have a tent to live in. Even if the Wall St. indicators are right and are showing some type of weak recovery, historically jobs don’t return until six months to over a year from signs of life on “the street”.

History says Wall st. first, then Main st. later.
In the 1990-91 and 2001 recessions, the unemployment rate topped out more than a year after the recovery began. I am not alone believing that the recent uptick in the market may be a temporary thing, it man not be the sign of a recovering economy only the wealth sharing the TARP dollars before retiring behind the castle walls to keep out the hungry peasants. Even if Wall st. sees returning profits, most Americans will find that a Wall ST recovery won’t make any difference to them for up to two years.

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April 5th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | MSEA, MSEA-SEIU, Maine State Employees, State lay offs, UNIONMAINE | no comments

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

Proud to Support Maine Republicans

Sorry, I have been running behind in posting due to contract negotiations, having a family, and even working.

We don’t always have to contact our legislators to ask for something or to complain. Sometimes we need to let them know they are doing a good job. In the Portland Press Herald for March 12 one of our independent breed of Republican legislators stood up for the Employee Free Choice act.

From the Portland Press Herald March 12, 2009

MAINE VOICES Employee Free Choice Act just what Maine’s economy needs Making it easier to form a union will improve workers’ odds of job security and prosperity. JAMES J. CAMPBELL SR. and PENNI THERIAULT

March 12, 2009
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Rep. James J. Campbell Sr., R-Newfield, serves on the Health and Human Services Committee. Penni Theriault is owner of Lots of Tots Child Care and president of Kids First, MSEA-SEIU.

We write as a state legislator and a small business owner who share Mainers’ deep concerns about the state of our economy. For the rest of the story, go to the Press Herald story. I personally called Rep. Campbell and left him a heartfelt thank you. I don’t know his record on supporting the MSEA in Maine and I didn’t look. He is doing the right thing at the right time. Please contact him and say Thank You Click on the link and send him a Thank You. jscampbell@psouth.net

March 14th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | EFCA, Employee Free Choice Act, MSEA, Maine State Employees, SEIU 1989 | no comments

The World will End or We are all gonna die

The Employee Free Choice Act has been introduced to Congress. Listen to the right and you will hear that on passage their will be no life left on earth except Union bosses. God Him/Her self will probably leave the earth to Satan if employees get what they don’t seem to understand, FREE CHOICE! What is so hard to understand? Want a secret ballot? You can have a secret ballot. Want to join a Union and more than 50% of your co-workers want a Union….you have a Union. WHAT IS SO HARD TO UNDERSTAND?



The big money is coming together to keep Americans from getting any of theirs, CEO’s Lobbyists, and Union busters are forming their own union to keep you out.


Two years after a defeat fueled by Wal-Mart and business leaders the Employee Free Choice Act was introduced in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

You might think the fight is in the halls of Congress but the real war will be fought by lobbyist guerrillas stuffing bundles of cash into the Republican ammo chest of hate. We need to add our voices, call your Congress Critter and let them know you want a voice in your working conditions.

Congress will debate, the Republican junkie head of the GOP, Limbaugh will be screaming with spittle running down his face while your senators and representative are already hearing from corporate interests. They need to hear from us!

Congress Critters eat both money and votes, let them know that their opponents will get both if they vote against the Employee Free Choice Act. Tell, don’t ask your representatives to vote for this bill..

Now with the most pro-worker Congress in years, while we have a President who must support our cause if he is to keep his word and plan for 2012 is the best chance we have. The other side has not even begun to fight. Support an employees right to vote how they choose and you will be called everything including the Anti-Christ.

Corporate commandos lobbying money grenades are already assaulting Congress, making promises and threats, spending millions on lying ads. They are committed to stopping and killing the middle class because your raise might take one coat of wax off their new car. We have to give a wake up call to Congressional reps who haven’t signed on. We must hold the members who have signed on accountable.!

American labor has already delivered a million and a half signatures supporting the Employee Free Choice Act.

The EFCA is now in the running and it’s time to let Congress know they are being watched.

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March 10th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Employee Free Choice Act, MSEA, SEIU, SEIU 1989 | no comments