Trust me, I work for the Government

Junk Email

This email has been everywhere in a lot of versions. At last the Governor has found a way to put a good face on State Government. I grabbed the first version from Eyeonthe503, a labor blog in Oregon. A quote from Eyeonthe503, Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

All personnel will now be required to look happy while working. Governor-approved supplies will be provided to each employee at little or no cost.

· Workloads getting to you?

· Feeling stressed?

· Too many priorities and assignments?

· Worried about pending furloughs?

· Here is the new low-cost, Governor-approved solution to cope with multiple priorities and assignments!

· Each employee will be supplied 2 paper clips and rubber bands. (See Fig 1.)

Figure 1.

Assemble items as shown in Fig 2.

Figure 2

Apply as shown in Fig 3.

Figure 3.

Enjoy your day. This new office equipment will help you to reach the end of a productive work day with a smile on your face! Stop by the front desk and pick up supplies.

Governor Baldacci

Check out the original version below.


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July 28th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Great Depression, John Baldacci, SEIU, recession, state employee morale | no comments

The EFCA is Gainiing Support

San Diego Labor Council Cesar Chavez EFCA Marc...Image by aflcio2008 via Flickr

This article below is a cross post from the AFL-CIO. We are not alone, we have the votes. We will pass the EFCA.
I want to be the first person through the door into a Unionized Wal-Mart.

Nationally the Sierra Club has allied with labor to support working families in our fight to pass the Employee Free Choice Act. They have done so because the Sierra Club understands that if we are to rebuild our economy with green jobs, it will only be sustainable if those green jobs are also good jobs.

Sandy Amborn is a Field Organizer for the Maine Sierra Club. She spoke at the Southern Maine Labor Council’s workers’ rights forum that was held in Portland. Sandy explained that “workers are the frontline in protecting the environment.” What’s more, sandy explained how green jobs must also be sustainable, good jobs and that can only be ensured through the Employee Free Choice Act.

The relationship between the environment and workers’ right to organize is particularly important in Maine. This is because Maine through stimulus money, and other sources of investment may be in the vanguard of the clean energy industry. It won’t make a difference though if workers don’t have the ability to democratically negotiate for a fair wage and benefits.

Sign up for UnionMaine and get updates by email.

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June 12th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | EFCA, Employee Free Choice Act, Labor rights, SEIU, UNIONMAINE, afl-cio | no comments

Zombie Donkey or Where are all the Democrats?

Where are all the Democrats?
I know it is a pony, do you have any idea how hard it is to find a picture of a Zombie Donkey?

Card Check

Penalties for labor law violations

Mandatory Arbitration

When card check seems to be the very basis for America and lets the majority rule, why the ugly push back from the right?

Card check makes a juicy target.

By portraying the card check provision of the EFCA as un-American the anti EFCA forces can pretend to be the underdog, defending the common man. The “defense” of the secret ballot lets Blue dog Democrats and some moderate Dem senators avoid a vote and justify their opposition.

The labor movement knows they can not simply depend on the support of the Congress they elected. We need to pull away the political cover so they will be forced to vote in the open.

Out of the gate, business seized a lead by portraying card check as Anti-American. Labor needs to push back against this, both with logic and with emotion.

Arguing against the “taking away the secret ballot” argument sets up a is not”, “is so” argument that wins for business because most people stop listening to a long and involved debate.

We can’t just yell “we are Americans too!” it isn’t a good sound bite and it has no emotional punch.There has to be a message that everyone supports, Unions and non-unionized. It would be great if it could be done in a 30 second spot, and I think it can be done.

Employers break the law, there is intimidation by employers. There are illegal firings and people’s lives are ruined, but how do you get that into 30 seconds?

We can get enough clips from You Tube alone that show unpopular people speaking against the EFCA. Picture Rush Limbaugh, Dick Cheney, and millionaires on screen with their estimated worth under each while they talk spout venom.

“They have it all, why don’t they want anyone else to have any?”

Support America Support the Employee Free Choice Act.”


The strongest arguments on the side of labor are the tens of thousand of cases of illegal intimidation by employers, the firings, the threats to workers and communities.

Anti-EFCA groups try to bypass any discussion of labor intimidation and pretend ongoing and blatant employer intimidation is not happening or only happens in an insignificant number of cases. (NLRB) Charges filed 47 violations by unions vs. 27,000 plus violations by Business.

Union Busters claim that they know there are abuses by employers, but that if labor had the EFCA, then they might do the same. The argument boils down to “we want to be the only people to be able to abuse the law”, yet they have no interest in making those violations costly to business.

The strength of the EFCA is that if any one piece is passed without being crippled it will start to balance the scales of justice. Penalties alone would make the process of Union Busting far more dangerous to employers to go into without the intention of staying legal.

An additional note on penalties.

The main problem with the penalties as they stand is that they are not adjusted to inflation or the size of the work force. Violations should not remain just a cost of doing business. I would drop the fixed amount fines and put in a relative one based on payroll.

Fines could start at 20% of the total payroll per year and increase on repeated violations. This would be the same threat level to a million dollar company as it would be to a billion dollar company. I would also factor in the cost of payroll for any outsourced labor, just to keep companies from dumping employees to minimize a fine. Repeated violations would increase the level of the penalty up to 100% of payroll. This would result in employers becoming far more conscious of the law.

Mandatory Arbitration

Mandatory Arbitration will be Custer’s last stand for Union Busters. They know that even if they are must recognize a Union they can spend years refusing to negotiate while attempting to continue their former tactics and break the new Union.

They want to stop the whole bill but in the end, it is the mandatory arbitration clause of the EFCA that is both the real target of the Union Busters and the most important goal to achieve with passage of the EFCA.

Are Compromises Possible?

Labor knows compromises are possible; any successful contract is all about compromises.

The first so called compromises from the right were all about retaining the long, long, wait until any election is held.

Any argument based on increasing the wait for an election is not a compromise, it is a vote against the EFCA. The Union Busters best weapon has always been a long wait before balloting, allowing for intimidation and pressure tactics by employers and in rare cases, by labor organizers.

The Anti Labor groups says that labor is not interested in any fair solution. How woud they know? The idea of negotiations is what they are fighting against, how could they even imagine participating in a fair discussion?

The compromises offered so far go nowhere far enough to prevent future firings and intimidation of pro-union workers. The second goal of any compromise offered by business at this time has been to keep the lack of significant sanctions for labor law violators. The third goal is to avoid any mandatory arbitration.

Unlike business, Unions have experience at negotions. If there is to be any compromise, We must I both strengthen the enforcement concepts of EFCA, retain mandatory arbitration, and even expand the punishment for violations, both for employers and for labor.

To labor the EFCA has become a highly emotional bill and they are understandably reluctant to talk compromise. Since the Taft Hartley bill in the 1940’s the labor friendly laws passed after the depression have been eroded and weakened by repeated give aways to business interests.

Labor believes strongly that even if the card check proposal part of the bill were erased, some blue dog Democrats and some Republicans with heavy Union membership at home would still try to vote the compromise down because both the Democrats and the Republicans would have be less able to hide their attempts to pay back their corporate supporters.

I believe that many of the fence-sitting Democrats are actually against the EFCA because they are owned by business, but are still afraid of the voters after November 2008. Any compromise that retained any form of secret ballot would take away the cover and expose those who want to vote for business against their constituents.

The instant Union recognition provision of the EFCA where the Union is immediately recognized, gets push back

The right was fast and smart (did Hell just freeze over?). By seizing the secret ballot argument they can make it their own.

Provide card check that triggers a secret election in one day. Keep the secret election but take away the weapon of time from the employer. They need time to scare employees.

Retaining some form of Secret ballot will defuse much of the arguments against the EFCA.

Employers claim they need time not for intimidation and coercion but because they were surprised by the Union’s organizing success and want to put across their views and concerns to employees before a Union becomes permanent.

The “we need time” whine is specious. An employer has a chance to speak to employees every day. They have a chance to raise wages and/or benefits or to let the employees know why they can not. When a Union has a successful organizing drive it is a proof of failure of the business to stay in touch with their work force.

The deck remains massively stacked against Union efforts. Captive audience meetings, firings of pro-union workers, and meaningless sanctions against employers that violate the law has resulted in the need for a law to rebalance the scales.

Employers are not interested in compromise, they have control, why should they bend?

Labor has to win this one. Democrats hid from Dick Cheney, controversy, and daylight, during the last two years of the bush reign, they are no longer the undead, they won, where are they now?

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June 11th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | EFCA, EFCA compromise, Employee Free Choice Act, Labor Movement, Law, SEIU, Secret ballot, Trade union, United States, Work, card check | no comments

The State of the Unions

State seal of ConnecticutImage via Wikipedia


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.


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?


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


I have nothing on my own tonight. I received a comment from another blogger, one with some real talent thanking me for saying something nice.
So in total ingratitude I am going to use another snippet from one of his posts to leave you hanging with no where to go but follow the link.

Thag for President

William K. Wolfrum Chronicles

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May 20th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | MSEA-SEIU, SEIU, Uncategorized | no comments

Proposal Deadline

MSEASEIU 1989 is engaged in contract bargaining with the State. All proposals will be on the table by May 1 at 5:00 pm.

We don’t know if there will be any surprises. Maybe the State feels they don’t have to do anything but say no, and let the legislature do the harm.

If we are so important we don’t have the right to strike, then nothing should be done without bargaining. Lots of rumors flying around, no facts yet but maybe the Gov. (I voted Democratic and all I got was this lousy Governor) will make an announcement early next week letting all Mainers know how bad things are.

In N.H. they actually want to raise the income tax………….only on State employees. It is bad, they don’t care if we tell them where they can save money. State Employees know where the waste is.

How about a contract for 14 contractors that is being renewed for the 7th and 8th year for $133,000.00 per employee NOT counting the money we pay another company to manage the contract. I could find a hundred more examples if the idea was to save money or they actually cared.

Anyone that doesn’t think we could pay and provide benefits for State employees for less does not have their head screwed on tight.

They won’t listen because they want to keep feeding rich landlords when we have vacant State owned buildings, and paying bloated prices for rich contractors that might hire a ex legislator.

What about the citizens of Maine? Alone, I could point out 1/2 to one million dollars of waste a year. Many other employees could prove the same. It is time for the State to put all contracts for goods and services on the web for all Mainers to review. Then the public could make a fair comparison.

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April 30th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, SEIU, SEIU 1984, SEIU 1989, msea maine | no comments

Elected NUHW Stewards being removed from office by SEIU

I am not taking any sides, I try to present the story in the old way, the facts should speak for themselves. You the reader, are the best judge.

The SEIU is “firing” Stewards and Member contract specialists, elected by their members, from elected office.

The members of the UHW have had card signings at over three hundred sites and voted overwhelmingly to leave the SEIU. They want to form the New UHW, but since NLRB rules don’t allow a decertification petition until just before a contract expiry, they can not decertify until 2010 there is no legal NUHW even if a hundred thousand members think they belong to a new Union.

I don’t think this is going away, California Union members are “fired up, and ready to go” it looks as if they are gearing up for the long haul.

This is not going to come out well for organized labor unless both sides talk. From this side of the country it looks like the members of UHW have been trying for a long time. It takes two sides both willing to listen to make a deal. This is all about Andy Stern, can he lead? Can he forge unity or simply try to force compliance?

In California the war between the SEIU and the as yet unrecognized NUHW continues. Stewards are being removed for disagreeing with the appointed heads of their SEIU local.

Many won’t agree but stewards, when elected, agree not to act against their Union, agree not to promote another Union or to act against their Union. Like it or not, the SEIU is currently the legal bargaining agent and has the right to remove stewards for actions against the SEIU.

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April 2nd, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Executive Branch Bargaining, SEIU, SEIU 1989, Stewards, decertify, member apathy, nuhw | 9 comments

Are you aware of the SEIU-UHW/NUHW situation?

From UnionMaine: I know it is hard to believe, but sometimes what is happening in the rest of the country doesn’t seem to affect us in Maine.
This blog is aimed at Labor issues and this is probably one of the biggest stories going on in the Labor world at this time. We are in the middle of a fight for the EFCA, accross the country right wing nuts are ready to dump gas on a spark of labor troubles.
The SEIU seems to be refusing to accept what is the basis for the EFCA.

In some locations employees have overwhelmingly signed cards saying that they want to leave SEIU and join the new NUHW (New United Health Care West) union. Representatives of SEIU have refused to accept the “card check” vote. WTF? (Where’s the Freedom?), not what you were thinking.

Are the troubles in California a power grab by local officials or a revolt against SEIU/Andy Stern? We are part of a National organization that is in the middle of a well organized fight for it’s image and tens of thousands of members. This is From the Daily Kos. Read the snippet and follow the link for an interesting story.

NUHW: “Let us Vote!” (Source: The Daily Kos_

Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 07:55:21 PM PDT

In the five weeks since SEIU International trusteed California’s SEIU-UHW West something enormous has transpired: California’s healthcare workers have spoken.

What those workers have said is crystal clear: “We choose NUHW!

A majority of the workers from 350 healthcare facilities…representing over 91,000 California healthcare workers…have petitioned to be represented by the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) in just five weeks time. That includes an absolute majority of the 50,000 healthcare workers in California’s Kaiser network of hospitals and clinics. It also includes homecare workers in Fresno County …… That total also includes numerous workers at smaller facilities………..who gathered petitions from an absolute majority of the 500 healthcare workers at their two facilities.

Editor: (I would need proof of the absolute majority claim), a neutral party needs to verify the signatures in the same way the EFCA is would do,with a neutral vote counter and verification of eligibility. So far these are claims, not facts. )

Go Here to the DailyKos for the rest of the story

Go here for the NUHW web site and hear what they have to say.

The SEIU Response

Warning! Don’t Sign Away Your Contract Rights

Be careful about a petition going around that would put our jobs, wages, and benefits at risk.

Our SEIU UHW contract guarantees our:

  • Wages
  • Health benefits
  • Retirement
  • Job security protections
  • Grievance procedures and safeguards

In a bad economy, a strong union contract gives us peace of mind.

Sticking together in SEIU UHW is the best way for us to keep our contract in force, get involved in rebuilding UHW, and stand united with other healthcare workers to win higher standards, improved patient care, and universal healthcare.

We cannot let people divide us. We cannot allow people to confuse the issues. We’ve worked too hard and come too far to give up all that we’ve won with our union. We are the union, and our union is UHW – 140,000 healthcare members strong.

Let’s Not Lose What We’ve Won!
Do not sign petitions to decertify or deauthorize our union. Do not sign cards to revoke your dues. These efforts will only help the bosses and weaken us in this critical moment when we need to stand together to fight the employer.

If we sign the petitions, they will have no obligation to honor our open contracts. If we revoke dues, our union, UHW, won’t have the resources to help members win better contracts, take on employers, or fight for universal healthcare.

It’s time to move past the divisiveness that has prevented us from focusing on what really matters – our contracts, our wages and benefits, our patients, and our communities. With SEIU UHW, we are stronger together.

And in “The Facts for UHW members” SEIU has this to say:

Facts for UHW Members

What is decertification?
Decertification is a legal process for workers to stop being represented by a union.
Once workers are no longer represented by a union, the union contract is no longer in
effect and management no longer has to bargain with the union or recognize union
stewards. The employer can discipline or fire employees for almost any reason. The
employer has no obligation to maintain the wages or benefits in the contract.

What is deauthorization?
Deauthorization is a legal process that means workers do not have to pay union dues
as a condition of their employment. If the union security clause in the contract is
removed, it means the worksite will be like a right-to-work state. If workers vote for
deauthorization of union dues, it sends a message to management that the workers
don’t want to support or back the union.

What is dues revocation?
When individual members revoke their dues authorization cards, it means that they are
telling the employer they don’t want dues deducted from their checks. Individual
members may still have an obligation to pay dues under a union security clause. In
order to make sure that everyone carries their weight, the union may have negotiated
contract language that gives us a right to tell employers to fire employees who do not
want to pay dues.

What happens to our contract if we vote to join another union?
If members vote out UHW and vote in another union, the employer has to bargain with
the new union. The employer does not have to agree to the same contract. The
employer can stall and delay. The employer can tell the new union it wants to cut the
wages and benefits and make lots of changes. If the employer and the new union
cannot reach an agreement and there is an impasse, the employer can implement its
final offer, no matter how bad it is.

What if I signed a card or petition and I changed my mind?
If you signed a dues revocation form, or authorization form for another union, you can
sign back up for UHW. You can sign a new membership card, dues deduction card,
COPE card for UHW. You can also send a letter to UHW saying you want to stay a
member of UHW and don’t want to be a member of another union.

In a bad economy, a strong union contract gives us job security. For more information,
call UHW at 866-660-5235.

What do you think? Is the SEIU in trouble? What would you do to fix it?

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March 14th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | RIGHT TO WORK, SEIU, SEIU 1989, decertification, nuhw, uhcw | 6 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

Lighten Up!

Maybe Gilligan did have some private moments with one of “the girls”.
Bobby (Gilligan?) Jindal

The next link, caught my attention while I was wondering if Advil could help with writers block. At first I thought it was funny, if you are over 50, I hope you are strong enough for laughter. Read the excerpt and follow the link to

“Teach me to booger sleaze”

From the blog, BadAttitudes

If, like me, you have entered the funhouse of late middle age you will soon discover that the mirrors distort not only how you look but what you hear.

Did that refined-looking woman next to you at the lunch counter really say, “Could you teach me to booger, sleaze?” And if she didn’t say that, what did she say? You haven’t a clue, so you retreat into safe territory: you take umbrage. “Excuse me. I beg your pardon. What did you say?”

The woman carefully, patiently, repeats her request: “Could you reach the sugar for me, please.” Link

Check out the Republican Spokesman with no answers, claiming PORK.

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March 2nd, 2009 Posted by Tom Maher | MSEA-SEIU, SEIU, SEIU 1989, UNIONMAINE, msea maine, state employee lay offs | no comments