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Is Baldacci planning lay offs?

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Is Baldacci preparing for hundreds of lay offs?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Rumors are flying. Is Governor Baldacci preparing plans to lay off possibly hundreds of state workers? Rumors are that Baldacci has ordered state department heads to prepare plans for layoffs, while he remains closed mouthed.

At the same time contract negotiations over a new contract are reaching a conclusion. The negotiations, started last year have been fouled by a legislature that decided to ignore collective bargaining when they refused to negotiate cuts. The contract Tentative Agreement is going to a vote of the Union Contract Action Team on Monday the 27th. State Employees have tried to be a part of the process for many months both through suggestions for real cost savings and political action.

Millions of dollars of cost savings ideas put forward by State Employees have been ignored while the State refused to allow any Union involvement in government oversight of waste and fraud, claiming the appropriations committee could do it all. The fear in the politician’s eyes is clear every time a State Employee says “We know where the waste is!”

MSEA reached out to the State last year and asked to be part of any discussions around employee pay cuts or benefit reductions. MSEA members know times are tough, we pay taxes, and we offered to save the State tax payer money. Every time we offered to point out the waste, a politician would say no thank you.

The ugly refusal of the legislature to respect collective bargaining has many employees demanding legal action be taken against the State for bargaining in bad faith.

State Employees have accused the governor and the legislature of undermining the negotiations and disrespecting all state employees and all taxpayers when they refused to allow citizens to be part of their so called savings committee.

The continuing refusal by the State to bargain in good faith is a common topic of discussion during Union discussions. It has been a constant disappointment that the Governor and the legislature continue to intimidate workers with the layoff threat. There are responsible solutions to be had, but the State has so far refused to listen to ideas that could save Maine tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars. State Employees know where the waste is, where the political favors are being handed out at the expense of the taxpayer. Unlike the legislature, State Employees are committed to public service, not a political agenda.

The two sides have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract, but the Union has refused to recognize shut down days in formal language as there were never any talks with the Unions only a midnight deal in the appropriations committee with no Union input.

MSEA-SEIU, which represents most state employees, tried to offer savings in order to bargain a guarantee there would be no future layoffs. The combination of attrition and retirement incentives was refused mostly by the right in a knee jerk refusal to offer any benefit to any State Employee, no matter the savings to the taxpayers of Maine.

The union proposed retirement incentives for cost savings, but the State said the retirement ideas would cost the state millions of dollars. The Union offered to be part of a cost savings committee and we were told not to let the door hit us on the way out.

The state’s biennial budget for 2009-2011 plans for about 200 retirements during the July retirement incentive period and allows the Union to negotiate for any “excess” personal savings the Union can identify. This may be the reason the appropriations committee refused to allow State Employees on the savings commission as they are certain to want to hide any monies found and protect their favored private contractors regardless of the cost to the state budget. State Employees, being taxpayers too would have been too likely to publicize the wasteful contracts to political allies and campaign supporters.

The union’s bargaining committee meets Monday to discuss ratification of the proposed contract and whether to send it out for a vote of the membership or to send the negotiations team back to the table. If the contract is sent back to the table the State is almost certain to call an impasse which would result in months of stalemated talks with no contract in place. The legislature found a way around our contract by making the law that came in to effect at the end of the last contract.

If we have a new contract in place it will be much, much harder to bypass an existing contract. Having a contract in place may very well be the least bad of a series of bad choices. Employees continue to be covered by the provisions of the old contract, which expired June 30 and a contract extension that runs until the end of August. Shut down days have already been implemented along with cuts in longevity pay due to the legislative refusal to bargain and instead rely on brute force.

Union members are of many opinions about the best course of action. Stress and tension have been building for months and the latest announcement of an “at least” $80,000,000.00 million dollar budget gap has only added to the strain.



It is time to look at some of the services being done by contractors that could be done by state workers at a lower cost. This would make it a lot easier to cut in the future without all the politics. The State is cutting back, why should private industry be any different?

Some State jobs are 100% federally-funded and the State still wants to cut the jobs and lose the funds that come with those jobs. The right wing doesn’t care about savings. They only want to reduce head count regardless of the cost. Many state employees are partially or fully funded by federal funds.

Stop the welfare, save the budget. How about instead of handing the money out with no question we use some state employees to investigate families collecting when complaints are made. Currently State Employees are told “There is no money for enforcement” or “We would lose Federal dollars”. Get it straight! State Employees don’t hate welfare but they do hate welfare cheats!


Get a job with Wal-Mart and see how long you last without a union. Unions don’t support poor work standards. If you let a company go out of business, you are out of a job. If it wasn’t for the threat of unionization wages would be far lower than they are now. State Workers don’t think they should be immune to the economy but if we have taken cuts instead of lay offs then asking for no more lay offs is only fair.

Why are cleaners being laid off and during a hiring freeze while new management positions are created in the budget at $75,000 a year or better to start? Essential employees must stay home without pay while there are internal job postings for even more management. That is the real insult.

SSDD, Same Shit Different Day. Cut the programs that help people. Why does it always have to be the departments that help people that get cuts? We thought we had a Governor that supported state employees. He gave us a speech promising no furloughs, no unpaid days while he was in office. Lying S.O.B.!

State employees have almost gotten used to being hated.It makes the economy of knuckle dragging radio shows run. State Employees don’t make a fortune and when we were paid far, far, under the private sector we were laughed at as being too dumb to get a real job with real wages. The Staff has been going down for a decade and many employees are now doing the work of several employees.

We couldn’t break a contract to pay AIG executives nearly half a Billion dollars in bonuses for destroying a company because the contract was sacred, yet the legislature can break our contract while trying to find out how to steal the health care and pensions we were promised for 30 years as if asking to be paid what you were promise is a crime.

Jesus hired three men at three different times yet paid them what they were promised, there should be some lesson there for the “moral majority”.

The state budget is out of control because ME’s politicians from both sides of the aisle refuse to produce a list of “essential services” and the real cost associated with those services. In many cases the service is unneeded or could be done cheaper by a State Employee. True costing is not something state employees are afraid of, it is something they are demanding. A true cost basis would cost some jobs but with the firing of wasteful contracting many more would open up.

Cuts should not be made on the basis of head count but on an honest review of costs and need for a particular service. If outsourcing a vital service can save money with out losing efficiency it must be considered. If a State Employee can do the job better and cheaper we should keep or hire a State Employee.

Cut employee pay and benefits and you will save temporarily save some money. You will also see the level of service drop because you will have lost a skilled work force while being unable to attract skilled replacement workers.

Services cost money, and if it costs $100.00 to fix a pot hole, then it costs a $100.00. If you pay less, you will get less, if you want less service and quality a politician will be happy to give you what you want.

The state should listen to suggestions of workers, not management, for cost-saving ideas.
In the worst economy since the Great Depressions, MSEA-SEIU members found cost savings ideas, instead of tax increases or reductions in services. Many on the right and some possible Democrat candidates for Governor were far more interested in publicity than saving Maine’s budget.

Union Employees want to provide quality public services and protect the jobs of our co-workers. These are your neighbors who plow the roads, protect the public, and fix the roads.


It’s bullshit!! Every time I hear “6 people to lean on a shovel” it is really bull shit. Most of the shovel leaners are contractors that buy the same uniforms and paint their trucks the same color as State trucks so their waste will be blamed on State Employees. The employees don’t ask for five friends to help. Management sends five because the more people they manage the more pay they get. Everyone blames the employee. It’s time to look at upper management.

Governor Baldacci didn’t even try to negotiate in good faith. He never offered State Employees the respect of even asking for their help. They sold us out to the Republican head hunters with no regard for the tax payers of Maine. “So what if it costs more!” Cutting State employees and paying more for the same services is always a good idea when you are looking for a consultant job when you leave the legislature.


A lot of consultants are former employees who retire, collect their retirement and then return to the same job in the same agency. The state pays them twice. Get rid of the double dipping mostly former managers if you really want to save $$$$.

Union workers want to help the public and save money. We are the public. We pay taxes. How about BMV? If you asked State Employees they might be willing to shift hours so the public could come in at 6 pm or at 6 am. The trouble is the politicians are afraid to ask State Employees for help. They are afraid we would say yes.

Some people hate Unions. OK, OK, but, state employees aren’t members of Tony Soprano’s family. State Employees are taxpayers and neighbors and make our state run, these cuts will be devastating to them and to our state services. No one else in Maine has been asked to take thousands of dollars of tax increases in a single year.You don’t think the contractors will have to take less money do you?

With State Lay offs more employees get laid off than needed in order to give bragging rights to some politician while he or she ships the work out to a business partner or friend at an inflated price. The contract MSEA-SEIU may get now is not a good contract but the fault is not on the union. The fault is on the legislature that has wasted money for decades while raiding retirement funds and borrowing even in years of surplus.

Union members were not smoking dope and dreaming of pay increases and more benefits. We know this is a rough time and we expected to take a hit. All we ever asked is to be part of the process and to get the respect we deserve.

The state is expecting to save money by having state employees use their vehicles while never increasing the mileage paid. Employees don’t even get what the Feds have determined is the least it takes to run a car. They can’t afford to run the cars but we are supposed to carry the load.

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July 24th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | BALDACCI, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, STATE EMPLOYEES, State lay offs, state employee pay cuts | no comments

Another State Employee Blog



Based on the Fionavar Trilogy by Guy Gavriel Kay

Poster from http://www.brightweavings.com/


I just ran into another Blog by a State Employee, Harold Shaw, his Blog has too much to list so I will paste in his description. This might be a great place for you to try if you are tired of politics and just want some humor, or great pictures of Maine or pets…..See I told you it was too much to describe.



Harold Shaw

About Harold


This Blog is my personal blog about my thoughts on whatever I am presently thinking about – it could be most anything from politics, aging, software/hardware reviews, education and other topics that are controversial or interesting to me or it could just be what is going on in my life today. Please do take the time to comment, how else will I learn what you think?

Editor: Staying in character for my blog, I will pick a post of Harold’s that deals with State Employees. It is just a little in the past but shows a great understanding of the problem and is a proud voice for State Employees.


MAINE STATE EMPLOYEE BUDGET CUTS

The opinions expressed in this blog and this post in particular are my personal opinions and do not reflect the opinions of my employer and do not provide any official or unofficial interpretations or guidance on what is being written about. See the above disclaimer tab for further information and my full blog disclaimer.

Well the news is out, we finally know (sort of) what is happening to Maine State employees if the State budget passes as it came out of the Budget Committee last night/this morning. Initial reports have State employees having at least 20 state closure days without pay and some sort of health insurance change/co-pay over the course of the next 2 years. (Editor: Since this post, the 10% health care cut, the loss of longevity, loss of merit steps and the loss of the right to bargain have added to the harm done with no negotiations)

How do I feel about this? I understand the rationale/reasons and would prefer to have the “state-wide closure no pay days” than a straight 5% pay cut. At least it means I will have some extra time off, even if I don’t get paid for it. Supposedly they will align these closure day with Monday holidays making it 4 days in a row vs 3. It does mean the there will be less time to complete projects, complete work, etc., but I do believe that we have to do our part to help through the budget crisis we are currently in. But I am concerned about State employees at the lowest end of the pay scale and how this will impact their budgets?

The medical insurance will impact people the most, but it is another reason why I support a single-payer health care system that covers every single American with the same basic coverage. If you want or can negotiate with your work to provide more than the basic coverage that is a great thing, but everyone needs to have health care, which in turn would make this less of an issue for any employer.

The bottom line is that I will loose at least 10 paid days a year which means that I am still employed for 230 (240 is considered the number of days the average person works in a year) days, which is a lot better than many people in the U.S. or the World are doing. Hopefully, this is the last round of cuts that have to be made. (Editor: Sorry to say Harold, but some in the legislature are planning on coming back for seconds in January. Next on the radar, current and future retirement benefits.)

However, if it did come to a lay-off, it would not be easy for us, but we would make the best of it, just like anyone else that is laid off does. But to be prepared (just in case) because you never know what will happen, we are pushing to pay off the mortgage – it is done in Sept 2010, and paying down all other bills we have, but it is better to be prepared than suddenly getting hit with a lay off and then having a mountain of bills.

I hope that we are beginning to turn this mess around and that this recession is going to get better soon, so that more cuts or layoffs are not necessary – only time will tell. Do I think that this is the right thing to do now? I think so, we as State employees have a responsibility do our part to help our State through this difficult time.

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June 14th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Harold Shaw, Maine Blogs, Maine State Employees, state employee lay offs, state employee pay cuts | no comments

Another State Employee Blog



Based on the Fionavar Trilogy by Guy Gavriel Kay

Poster from http://www.brightweavings.com/


I just ran into another Blog by a State Employee, Harold Shaw, his Blog has too much to list so I will paste in his description. This might be a great place for you to try if you are tired of politics and just want some humor, or great pictures of Maine or pets…..See I told you it was too much to describe.



Harold Shaw

About Harold


This Blog is my personal blog about my thoughts on whatever I am presently thinking about – it could be most anything from politics, aging, software/hardware reviews, education and other topics that are controversial or interesting to me or it could just be what is going on in my life today. Please do take the time to comment, how else will I learn what you think?

Editor: Staying in character for my blog, I will pick a post of Harold’s that deals with State Employees. It is just a little in the past but shows a great understanding of the problem and is a proud voice for State Employees.


MAINE STATE EMPLOYEE BUDGET CUTS

The opinions expressed in this blog and this post in particular are my personal opinions and do not reflect the opinions of my employer and do not provide any official or unofficial interpretations or guidance on what is being written about. See the above disclaimer tab for further information and my full blog disclaimer.

Well the news is out, we finally know (sort of) what is happening to Maine State employees if the State budget passes as it came out of the Budget Committee last night/this morning. Initial reports have State employees having at least 20 state closure days without pay and some sort of health insurance change/co-pay over the course of the next 2 years. (Editor: Since this post, the 10% health care cut, the loss of longevity, loss of merit steps and the loss of the right to bargain have added to the harm done with no negotiations)

How do I feel about this? I understand the rationale/reasons and would prefer to have the “state-wide closure no pay days” than a straight 5% pay cut. At least it means I will have some extra time off, even if I don’t get paid for it. Supposedly they will align these closure day with Monday holidays making it 4 days in a row vs 3. It does mean the there will be less time to complete projects, complete work, etc., but I do believe that we have to do our part to help through the budget crisis we are currently in. But I am concerned about State employees at the lowest end of the pay scale and how this will impact their budgets?

The medical insurance will impact people the most, but it is another reason why I support a single-payer health care system that covers every single American with the same basic coverage. If you want or can negotiate with your work to provide more than the basic coverage that is a great thing, but everyone needs to have health care, which in turn would make this less of an issue for any employer.

The bottom line is that I will loose at least 10 paid days a year which means that I am still employed for 230 (240 is considered the number of days the average person works in a year) days, which is a lot better than many people in the U.S. or the World are doing. Hopefully, this is the last round of cuts that have to be made. (Editor: Sorry to say Harold, but some in the legislature are planning on coming back for seconds in January. Next on the radar, current and future retirement benefits.)

However, if it did come to a lay-off, it would not be easy for us, but we would make the best of it, just like anyone else that is laid off does. But to be prepared (just in case) because you never know what will happen, we are pushing to pay off the mortgage – it is done in Sept 2010, and paying down all other bills we have, but it is better to be prepared than suddenly getting hit with a lay off and then having a mountain of bills.

I hope that we are beginning to turn this mess around and that this recession is going to get better soon, so that more cuts or layoffs are not necessary – only time will tell. Do I think that this is the right thing to do now? I think so, we as State employees have a responsibility do our part to help our State through this difficult time.

Sign up for email alerts whenever this blog is updated.
Enter Your Email

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June 14th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Harold Shaw, Maine Blogs, Maine State Employees, state employee lay offs, state employee pay cuts | no comments

Another State Employee Blog



Based on the Fionavar Trilogy by Guy Gavriel Kay

Poster from http://www.brightweavings.com/


I just ran into another Blog by a State Employee, Harold Shaw, his Blog has too much to list so I will paste in his description. This might be a great place for you to try if you are tired of politics and just want some humor, or great pictures of Maine or pets…..See I told you it was too much to describe.



Harold Shaw

About Harold


This Blog is my personal blog about my thoughts on whatever I am presently thinking about – it could be most anything from politics, aging, software/hardware reviews, education and other topics that are controversial or interesting to me or it could just be what is going on in my life today. Please do take the time to comment, how else will I learn what you think?

Editor: Staying in character for my blog, I will pick a post of Harold’s that deals with State Employees. It is just a little in the past but shows a great understanding of the problem and is a proud voice for State Employees.


MAINE STATE EMPLOYEE BUDGET CUTS

The opinions expressed in this blog and this post in particular are my personal opinions and do not reflect the opinions of my employer and do not provide any official or unofficial interpretations or guidance on what is being written about. See the above disclaimer tab for further information and my full blog disclaimer.

Well the news is out, we finally know (sort of) what is happening to Maine State employees if the State budget passes as it came out of the Budget Committee last night/this morning. Initial reports have State employees having at least 20 state closure days without pay and some sort of health insurance change/co-pay over the course of the next 2 years. (Editor: Since this post, the 10% health care cut, the loss of longevity, loss of merit steps and the loss of the right to bargain have added to the harm done with no negotiations)

How do I feel about this? I understand the rationale/reasons and would prefer to have the “state-wide closure no pay days” than a straight 5% pay cut. At least it means I will have some extra time off, even if I don’t get paid for it. Supposedly they will align these closure day with Monday holidays making it 4 days in a row vs 3. It does mean the there will be less time to complete projects, complete work, etc., but I do believe that we have to do our part to help through the budget crisis we are currently in. But I am concerned about State employees at the lowest end of the pay scale and how this will impact their budgets?

The medical insurance will impact people the most, but it is another reason why I support a single-payer health care system that covers every single American with the same basic coverage. If you want or can negotiate with your work to provide more than the basic coverage that is a great thing, but everyone needs to have health care, which in turn would make this less of an issue for any employer.

The bottom line is that I will loose at least 10 paid days a year which means that I am still employed for 230 (240 is considered the number of days the average person works in a year) days, which is a lot better than many people in the U.S. or the World are doing. Hopefully, this is the last round of cuts that have to be made. (Editor: Sorry to say Harold, but some in the legislature are planning on coming back for seconds in January. Next on the radar, current and future retirement benefits.)

However, if it did come to a lay-off, it would not be easy for us, but we would make the best of it, just like anyone else that is laid off does. But to be prepared (just in case) because you never know what will happen, we are pushing to pay off the mortgage – it is done in Sept 2010, and paying down all other bills we have, but it is better to be prepared than suddenly getting hit with a lay off and then having a mountain of bills.

I hope that we are beginning to turn this mess around and that this recession is going to get better soon, so that more cuts or layoffs are not necessary – only time will tell. Do I think that this is the right thing to do now? I think so, we as State employees have a responsibility do our part to help our State through this difficult time.

Sign up for email alerts whenever this blog is updated.
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June 14th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Harold Shaw, Maine Blogs, Maine State Employees, state employee lay offs, state employee pay cuts | no comments

Will the Presitdent add More Taxes on State Employees?

Judd Gregg, U.S. Senator from New Hampshire.Image via Wikipedia

Is the president planning on taxing health benefits? What would that mean to State Employees that were just hit with a nearly $900.00 per year increase? Depending on what kind of tax and at what level State Employees could face from nothing to several thousand dollars a year in pay cuts. It gets worse later. If the benefits are based on a fixed dollar amount then at the rate health care has been increasing for twenty years 90% of your health care would be taxable within ten years.


President Obama seems to be turning 180 degrees from his campaign attacks against John McCain’s suggestion that health care benefits should be taxed. He said it to McCain’s face and he ran TV spots chastising the Senator for even thinking of taxing health care.

Now he has told Democratic senators that he is willing to consider taxing employer-sponsored health benefits to help pay for a broad expansion of coverage.

This is thin ice for Obama who said, while debating John McCain “For the first time in American history, he wants to tax your health benefits,” “Apparently, Senator McCain doesn’t think it’s enough that your health premiums have doubled. He thinks you should have to pay taxes on them, too.”

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said Obama seemed willing to change the existing tax break for employer paid health care. The decision will anger supporters and especially supporters who are in the same unions that had so much to do with Obama getting elected.

White House officials said taxing health insurance benefits provided by employers is not Obama’s first choice, but did not rule out the possibility.

Republican Sen. Judd Gregg (N.H.) supports imposing a tax on certain health plans (read that as Union plans). Sen. Democrat Sherrod Brown (Ohio) says such a tax would unfairly hurt middle-class workers with good benefits.

Several ideas have been floated, taxing all benefits, a benefit cap, that could kick in at some dollar amount, only taxing benefits for employees that make above a certain income level. Health Care should be available to all. I don’t know if we can get there if the plan is to take it away from the middle class with tax policies that make a good plan unaffordable.

I do know that the Republican party on the whole will do everything it can to keep your health care dollars going to make profits for the few, not health care for all.

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June 10th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Maine State Employees, SEIU 1989, state employee pay cuts, taxing employer paid health care | no comments

Will the President add More Taxes on State Employees?

Judd Gregg, U.S. Senator from New Hampshire.Image via Wikipedia

Is the president planning on taxing health benefits? What would that mean to State Employees that were just hit with a nearly $900.00 per year increase? Depending on what kind of tax and at what level State Employees could face from nothing to several thousand dollars a year in pay cuts. It gets worse later. If the benefits are based on a fixed dollar amount then at the rate health care has been increasing for twenty years 90% of your health care would be taxable within ten years.


President Obama seems to be turning 180 degrees from his campaign attacks against John McCain’s suggestion that health care benefits should be taxed. He said it to McCain’s face and he ran TV spots chastising the Senator for even thinking of taxing health care.

Now he has told Democratic senators that he is willing to consider taxing employer-sponsored health benefits to help pay for a broad expansion of coverage.

This is thin ice for Obama who said, while debating John McCain “For the first time in American history, he wants to tax your health benefits,” “Apparently, Senator McCain doesn’t think it’s enough that your health premiums have doubled. He thinks you should have to pay taxes on them, too.”

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said Obama seemed willing to change the existing tax break for employer paid health care. The decision will anger supporters and especially supporters who are in the same unions that had so much to do with Obama getting elected.

White House officials said taxing health insurance benefits provided by employers is not Obama’s first choice, but did not rule out the possibility.

Republican Sen. Judd Gregg (N.H.) supports imposing a tax on certain health plans (read that as Union plans). Sen. Democrat Sherrod Brown (Ohio) says such a tax would unfairly hurt middle-class workers with good benefits.

Several ideas have been floated, taxing all benefits, a benefit cap, that could kick in at some dollar amount, only taxing benefits for employees that make above a certain income level. Health Care should be available to all. I don’t know if we can get there if the plan is to take it away from the middle class with tax policies that make a good plan unaffordable.

I do know that the Republican party on the whole will do everything it can to keep your health care dollars going to make profits for the few, not health care for all.

Enter your Email

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June 10th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Maine State Employees, SEIU 1989, state employee pay cuts, taxing employer paid health care | no comments