UnionMaine

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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

Airlines Favor profit over safety. The Employer Free Choice Act

Untrained Pilots of

the Future?

Pilot Sully says Pilot Pay Cuts Put Passengers in danger. The pilot of Flight 1459 says the industry is driving out experienced pilots. The hero pilot has seen his pay cut and his pension destroyed as a reward for years of dedicated service. When do you think we will hear about Sully getting his huge retention bonus?

The pilot who successfully saved a planeload of passengers using years of skills and training by safely landing in the Hudson River said that pay and benefit cuts are driving experienced pilots from the cockpit. The US Airways pilot told the aviation subcommittee he has seen a 40 percent cut in his pay at the same time his pension was terminated and handed to the Federal Pension Guaranty Corp where he will get a pension “worth pennies on the dollar” .

Trained Union Pilot on the

River

The cuts were forced after several airline bankruptcies. Many of the management teams that oversaw the destruction of pay and pensions received huge bonuses as a reward for performance.. The cuts have placed “pilots and their families in an untenable financial situation,” Sullenberger said. “I do not know a single, professional airline pilot who wants his or her children to follow in their footsteps.”

Copilot Jeffrey B. Skiles said without labor-management reforms “experienced crews in the cockpit will be a thing of the past.” Sullenberger said in his always controlled style that without experienced pilots “we will see negative consequences to the flying public.” Will the airlines report a 200 mile an hour landing in a pine forest as an “extended delay”.

Do you think temp agencies can send in pilots on an as needed basis? How about we take one of the executives that received bonuses for cutting Union pay and benefits and put them alone into the cockpit of a plane, take it off remotely and then kill the engines. If the executive lives then they can keep their life and consider it “pay for performance”. Due to training and skills only gained through years of training Sullenberger landed in the river and all 155 people survived. If only Sully’s pay and pension had been so lucky.

The Employer Free Choice Act

There has been a novel suggestion made to solve the problem of Unions that destroy the companies they work for. A program for the complete management of labor resources has been put forward by the National Right to Work for Less organization. A spokesperson said that after the idea was brought up everyone was amazed that it had taken them so long to arrive at this clearly obvious solution.

The new management initiative for complete management of labor resources for the parts of the American auto industry that have been hardest hit by the Union movement will be the first to see the effects of this new plan.


The program is based on a simple premise. Companies that have been hardest hit by Unions will be required to own their workers.


The spokesperson gave examples of how proper labor management has achieved greatness, the pyramids, and the entertainment industry in the days of the emperors, and the growth of the South into a burgeoning supplier for cotton in the early 1800’s. The “Complete Labor Management” program will allow commercial success to extend the free market principles to humans themselves.

Complete management of labor is the fastest, best, solution to investor losses and the pinnacle goal of free-market theory.

While is some ways the program could be mislabeled slavery, it is explained by the supporters as returning to their “roots”. In the past eight years labor relations have been taken in the direction of less conflict by allowing management to make the decisions unfettered by employees or long term commitments to pay benefits or pensions. We need to simply extend and polish these early improvements to labor relations. Much of the rest of the world including Iran has already taken the lead in these areas and now sees almost no Union conflict. America must not fall behind.

A management system where corporations make all the decisions is the only solution for falling dividends. Today, in American factories, employers must wend their way through a thicket of laws controlling wages, safety, and who they can hire. The only worries a corporation should have is if the employee is productive. Employers can not be saddled with the responsibility of an employee’s health or what they live on after their careers are done.

Rules must be set. If an employee is too sick to work, pregnant, or too old to be productive they should be out the door.

By encouraging employees to remain productive by not relying on an employer (or the government) we will be giving every employee true freedom of choice. They will decide their own destinies.

Further examples of the method at work were given, the late 1800’s success of Oil and Rail Roads. Chinese auto companies are rising stars. Chinese auto workers currently earn a dollar an hour. In each of these cases workers have been freed from labor worries, and management allowed to focus solely on the profitability without interference. In each case tremendous returns on investment have grown the corporations. There is a definite pattern and it can be proven that if it is Good for Unions, it is Bad for business. Bad for Unions, Good for business. The complete implementation of this plan is seen as the logical defense against the Employee Free Choice Act.

Some public sentiment still brands the word slavery with some negative connotations so we are re-branding the initiative as the Employer Free Choice Act. We can stress the benefits to the employee and the economy. The employee is freed from choices and conflicts with management. All their time is productive or the company is freed from the employee.The benefits to the economy have been obvious since the building of the pyramids.

This is what free choice is all about. The employee is freed when they only have to follow orders and management is freed when they can make any choice needed for the good of the corporation.

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February 25th, 2009 Posted by Tom Maher | MSEA, MSEA contract, SEIU, SEIU 1984, SEIU 1989, STATE EMPLOYEES, State lay offs, Thomas Maher, UNIONMAINE, Union Success, msea maine, state employee lay offs | no comments

Strong Union Support in Maine

Over at Turnmaineblue Gerald is doing a great job of covering the Employee Free Choice Act and labor isuses. I don’t have the time or the skills to do the reporting they do over there and I hope I am only putting up “fair use” parts of the articles. I felt that I had to do this because it is what I would write if I could. Here is the beginning of two articles with links for the rest.
I am going to TurnMaineBlue and by some ad space. It is the least I can do to support his site.

More GOP hogwash about unions

by: Gerald Weinand

Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 12:50:40 PM EST

There is more anti-union hogwash from Republicans, and this time it’s Michael Steele, chair of the RNC that gets into the act. (Go to TMB for a link to the RNC’s website)
Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Michael Steele today released the following statement concerning the executive order quietly signed by President Barack Obama on Friday ordering the use of union labor for federal construction projects:
Raise your blood pressure and read the rest


PPH editorial repeats the industry

lie about the EFCA

by: Gerald Weinand

Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 08:32:40 AM EST

This morning’s Portland Press Herald has this (link at TMB) editorial that repeats the well established lie used by opponents of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA):
Taking away the right of workers to vote in secret on whether to have a union is fundamentally unfair.

Finish the rest at Turnmaineblue

Click here and send an email. Tell Turnmaineblue to keep up the great work.

I would be glad to be the first person to use my Pay Pal at his site. Ever since Politicker ME became an RSS feed instead of a real site Turnmaineblue has been taking up the slack.

.

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February 21st, 2009 Posted by narsbars | MSEA, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, SEIU 1989, STATE EMPLOYEES, State lay offs, Thomas Maher, turnmaineblue | no comments

Will you click for your Health Care?




Click On The Cartoon For A Full Size Version

Negotiations Update

Updated February 7

  • The 16 elected members of Local 1989’s Executive Branch negotiating team—representing four bargaining units—have been working long hours both on the clock and on their own time to bring a comprehensive package of proposals to the table.
  • Many obstacles could make reaching a settlement difficult:
  1. The rapidly deteriorating national economy, a current State deficit of nearly a billion dollars, political attacks on State Employees.
  2. The governor’s demands for cuts in employee health care and extensive layoffs, plus cuts in departmental funding.
  3. A Governor and Legislature unable to compromise over revenue increases and program cuts.

  • This is the storm swirling around your negotiators while they have held worksite meetings, polled members, and held discussions with Local 1989 leaders and activists from all parts of the state. They are using your input and matching it against the darkening picture of the State budget and the governor’s seeming willingness to sacrifice State employees in the name of good publicity and bad fiscal policy. Your negotiators are still developing comprehensive proposals. At this time there is an air of mutual respect at the table and both sides realize the seriousness of the times.

Will the State propose?

  • Furloughs?
  • Decreased protections against layoffs?
  • A loss of Union Protections?
  • Benefit Cuts?

We don’t know what they have in mind yet, and I can not publish what strategies or specific proposals your teams have agreed on. You don’t send your playbook to the other team before the game. Your teams are prepared and have read and discussed every single proposal, coalition and team specific. Every idea, every member has been heard, and now is the time when you can help.

Your Health Care, by law, can not be negotiated. Your Health Care is in the hands of the legislature.


Go to the MSEASEIU web site, read this story on the attacks on our healthcare or click on this link to send an email to the appropriations committee, and tell them that attacking State employee Health care is only a political move and breaks the State’s promise to all of it’s employees.


I have included part of my letter to the appropriations committee, possibly the most powerful decision makers in the State.

Dear Senator Diamond, Representative Cain, and members of the Appropriations Committee:

I have appeared before your committee in the past and offered savings to help the State budget. The suggestions have always fallen on deaf ears. Perhaps my ideas did not have merit, but from the ideas of thousands of State Employees there must be many excellent ideas. If you listen, we will “show you the money”.

As legislators you must judge your course by public input but I beg you not to feed the radical pundits who feel that all State problems could be solved by cutting State employee pay and benefits. Considering the committee you are on, you know better.

Please don’t allow a tax on only one small number of Maine citizens. State employees and their families are your constituents, not a handy distraction to throw the press. The last thing we need is higher health care costs. I am respectfully urging you to oppose the Governor’s proposal to shift more health insurance costs onto state workers.

There should be only one health plan for all state workers. That’s the Maine way. (If you would tax me, I ask you to share the pain and

We know that savings must be found wherever they are, but the State Employee Health Commission is the best body to decide how to cut if cuts are needed. Please have the State Employee Health Commission decide not the press.

Thank you for your time and consideration on this important matter.

Thomas Maher

.




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February 7th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Executive Branch Bargaining, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, Maine State Employees, Rod Hiltz, SEIU 1989, Thomas Maher, UNIONMAINE, furlough days | no comments

Will you click for your Health Care?




Click On The Cartoon For A Full Size Version

Negotiations Update

Updated February 7

  • The 16 elected members of Local 1989’s Executive Branch negotiating team—representing four bargaining units—have been working long hours both on the clock and on their own time to bring a comprehensive package of proposals to the table.
  • Many obstacles could make reaching a settlement difficult:
  1. The rapidly deteriorating national economy, a current State deficit of nearly a billion dollars, political attacks on State Employees.
  2. The governor’s demands for cuts in employee health care and extensive layoffs, plus cuts in departmental funding.
  3. A Governor and Legislature unable to compromise over revenue increases and program cuts.

  • This is the storm swirling around your negotiators while they have held worksite meetings, polled members, and held discussions with Local 1989 leaders and activists from all parts of the state. They are using your input and matching it against the darkening picture of the State budget and the governor’s seeming willingness to sacrifice State employees in the name of good publicity and bad fiscal policy. Your negotiators are still developing comprehensive proposals. At this time there is an air of mutual respect at the table and both sides realize the seriousness of the times.

Will the State propose?

  • Furloughs?
  • Decreased protections against layoffs?
  • A loss of Union Protections?
  • Benefit Cuts?

We don’t know what they have in mind yet, and I can not publish what strategies or specific proposals your teams have agreed on. You don’t send your playbook to the other team before the game. Your teams are prepared and have read and discussed every single proposal, coalition and team specific. Every idea, every member has been heard, and now is the time when you can help.

Your Health Care, by law, can not be negotiated. Your Health Care is in the hands of the legislature.


Go to the MSEASEIU web site, read this story on the attacks on our healthcare or click on this link to send an email to the appropriations committee, and tell them that attacking State employee Health care is only a political move and breaks the State’s promise to all of it’s employees.


I have included part of my letter to the appropriations committee, possibly the most powerful decision makers in the State.

Dear Senator Diamond, Representative Cain, and members of the Appropriations Committee:

I have appeared before your committee in the past and offered savings to help the State budget. The suggestions have always fallen on deaf ears. Perhaps my ideas did not have merit, but from the ideas of thousands of State Employees there must be many excellent ideas. If you listen, we will “show you the money”.

As legislators you must judge your course by public input but I beg you not to feed the radical pundits who feel that all State problems could be solved by cutting State employee pay and benefits. Considering the committee you are on, you know better.

Please don’t allow a tax on only one small number of Maine citizens. State employees and their families are your constituents, not a handy distraction to throw the press. The last thing we need is higher health care costs. I am respectfully urging you to oppose the Governor’s proposal to shift more health insurance costs onto state workers.

There should be only one health plan for all state workers. That’s the Maine way. (If you would tax me, I ask you to share the pain and

We know that savings must be found wherever they are, but the State Employee Health Commission is the best body to decide how to cut if cuts are needed. Please have the State Employee Health Commission decide not the press.

Thank you for your time and consideration on this important matter.

Thomas Maher

.




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February 7th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Executive Branch Bargaining, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, Maine State Employees, Rod Hiltz, SEIU 1989, Thomas Maher, UNIONMAINE, furlough days | no comments

Will you click for your Health Care?




Click On The Cartoon For A Full Size Version

Negotiations Update

Updated February 7

  • The 16 elected members of Local 1989’s Executive Branch negotiating team—representing four bargaining units—have been working long hours both on the clock and on their own time to bring a comprehensive package of proposals to the table.
  • Many obstacles could make reaching a settlement difficult:
  1. The rapidly deteriorating national economy, a current State deficit of nearly a billion dollars, political attacks on State Employees.
  2. The governor’s demands for cuts in employee health care and extensive layoffs, plus cuts in departmental funding.
  3. A Governor and Legislature unable to compromise over revenue increases and program cuts.

  • This is the storm swirling around your negotiators while they have held worksite meetings, polled members, and held discussions with Local 1989 leaders and activists from all parts of the state. They are using your input and matching it against the darkening picture of the State budget and the governor’s seeming willingness to sacrifice State employees in the name of good publicity and bad fiscal policy. Your negotiators are still developing comprehensive proposals. At this time there is an air of mutual respect at the table and both sides realize the seriousness of the times.

Will the State propose?

  • Furloughs?
  • Decreased protections against layoffs?
  • A loss of Union Protections?
  • Benefit Cuts?

We don’t know what they have in mind yet, and I can not publish what strategies or specific proposals your teams have agreed on. You don’t send your playbook to the other team before the game. Your teams are prepared and have read and discussed every single proposal, coalition and team specific. Every idea, every member has been heard, and now is the time when you can help.

Your Health Care, by law, can not be negotiated. Your Health Care is in the hands of the legislature.


Go to the MSEASEIU web site, read this story on the attacks on our healthcare or click on this link to send an email to the appropriations committee, and tell them that attacking State employee Health care is only a political move and breaks the State’s promise to all of it’s employees.


I have included part of my letter to the appropriations committee, possibly the most powerful decision makers in the State.

Dear Senator Diamond, Representative Cain, and members of the Appropriations Committee:

I have appeared before your committee in the past and offered savings to help the State budget. The suggestions have always fallen on deaf ears. Perhaps my ideas did not have merit, but from the ideas of thousands of State Employees there must be many excellent ideas. If you listen, we will “show you the money”.

As legislators you must judge your course by public input but I beg you not to feed the radical pundits who feel that all State problems could be solved by cutting State employee pay and benefits. Considering the committee you are on, you know better.

Please don’t allow a tax on only one small number of Maine citizens. State employees and their families are your constituents, not a handy distraction to throw the press. The last thing we need is higher health care costs. I am respectfully urging you to oppose the Governor’s proposal to shift more health insurance costs onto state workers.

There should be only one health plan for all state workers. That’s the Maine way. (If you would tax me, I ask you to share the pain and

We know that savings must be found wherever they are, but the State Employee Health Commission is the best body to decide how to cut if cuts are needed. Please have the State Employee Health Commission decide not the press.

Thank you for your time and consideration on this important matter.

Thomas Maher

.




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February 7th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Executive Branch Bargaining, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, Maine State Employees, Rod Hiltz, SEIU 1989, Thomas Maher, UNIONMAINE, furlough days | no comments

Will you click for your Health Care?




Click On The Cartoon For A Full Size Version

Negotiations Update

Updated February 7

  • The 16 elected members of Local 1989’s Executive Branch negotiating team—representing four bargaining units—have been working long hours both on the clock and on their own time to bring a comprehensive package of proposals to the table.
  • Many obstacles could make reaching a settlement difficult:
  1. The rapidly deteriorating national economy, a current State deficit of nearly a billion dollars, political attacks on State Employees.
  2. The governor’s demands for cuts in employee health care and extensive layoffs, plus cuts in departmental funding.
  3. A Governor and Legislature unable to compromise over revenue increases and program cuts.

  • This is the storm swirling around your negotiators while they have held worksite meetings, polled members, and held discussions with Local 1989 leaders and activists from all parts of the state. They are using your input and matching it against the darkening picture of the State budget and the governor’s seeming willingness to sacrifice State employees in the name of good publicity and bad fiscal policy. Your negotiators are still developing comprehensive proposals. At this time there is an air of mutual respect at the table and both sides realize the seriousness of the times.

Will the State propose?

  • Furloughs?
  • Decreased protections against layoffs?
  • A loss of Union Protections?
  • Benefit Cuts?

We don’t know what they have in mind yet, and I can not publish what strategies or specific proposals your teams have agreed on. You don’t send your playbook to the other team before the game. Your teams are prepared and have read and discussed every single proposal, coalition and team specific. Every idea, every member has been heard, and now is the time when you can help.

Your Health Care, by law, can not be negotiated. Your Health Care is in the hands of the legislature.


Go to the MSEASEIU web site, read this story on the attacks on our healthcare or click on this link to send an email to the appropriations committee, and tell them that attacking State employee Health care is only a political move and breaks the State’s promise to all of it’s employees.


I have included part of my letter to the appropriations committee, possibly the most powerful decision makers in the State.

Dear Senator Diamond, Representative Cain, and members of the Appropriations Committee:

I have appeared before your committee in the past and offered savings to help the State budget. The suggestions have always fallen on deaf ears. Perhaps my ideas did not have merit, but from the ideas of thousands of State Employees there must be many excellent ideas. If you listen, we will “show you the money”.

As legislators you must judge your course by public input but I beg you not to feed the radical pundits who feel that all State problems could be solved by cutting State employee pay and benefits. Considering the committee you are on, you know better.

Please don’t allow a tax on only one small number of Maine citizens. State employees and their families are your constituents, not a handy distraction to throw the press. The last thing we need is higher health care costs. I am respectfully urging you to oppose the Governor’s proposal to shift more health insurance costs onto state workers.

There should be only one health plan for all state workers. That’s the Maine way. (If you would tax me, I ask you to share the pain and

We know that savings must be found wherever they are, but the State Employee Health Commission is the best body to decide how to cut if cuts are needed. Please have the State Employee Health Commission decide not the press.

Thank you for your time and consideration on this important matter.

Thomas Maher

.




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February 7th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Executive Branch Bargaining, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, Maine State Employees, Rod Hiltz, SEIU 1989, Thomas Maher, UNIONMAINE, furlough days | no comments

Bargaining Update.


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On Friday the Governor will announce his budget plans and we will see what the impact on State employees may be. Remember “the governor proposes” and “the legislature disposes”.

No matter what comes up tomorrow, nothing is final until the legislature weighs in. In 2008 we worked harder than ever and succeeded in electing law makers that are more willing to listen to labor.

The Executive Branch Negotiations teams met on Thursday and will meet with the State team on Friday. We will be presenting some general ideas and reminding the State that even in these times of challenges and economic problems we are part of the process and our members must be respected.

On Friday the negotiations team will be presenting a suggested schedule of meeting dates with the State and we will be discussing how many days both sides feel we may need to arrive at a contract. We will let the State know that we are serious and we will take the time needed to get this done.

On Saturday January 10 the teams will meet with the C.A.T. (Contract Action Team) members to bring them up to date and discuss the issues and proposals that have been collected.

The C.A.T. members will let the team members know what they have heard from their coworkers and make recommendations on priorities.

There will be some interesting discussions over what the best possible contract looks like in this economy.

Every member of every team determined to do the most good for the most members. We have all promised to do whatever is needed and to stay as long as we have to. No matter how tough things get, at least we don’t have John and Sarah.

And here is what is happening in California:

Local 1000 Tells California how to save the state $370 million
State says, ‘No exemptions from furloughs’

The California Local 1000 bargaining team met with the the State negotiators and offered a package of proposals that would save the state hundreds of millions of dollars.

Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker said “Our members are suffering just like all Californians. Our proposals are designed to reduce that pain.” The proposals included more than $370 million in savings over two years and include:

1) A voluntary reduced work week program of 5 percent, 10 percent or 20 percent.

2) A golden handshake for state workers willing to take early retirement.

3) Converting two state holidays – Lincoln’s Birthday and Columbus Day – for two additional personal holidays.

The State has taken a position that says no one will be exempt from furloughs, but that certain revenue generating departments would be exempt from layoffs.

California follows a bargaining strategy of a Master table and Unit negotiations that is similar to the last contract negotiations in Maine where we had coalition bargaining and small table talks.

January 9th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | EFCA, Executive Branch Bargaining, MSEA, MSEA contract, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, Maine State Employees, SEIU, SEIU 1989, STATE EMPLOYEES, State lay offs, TECHNORATI, Thomas Maher, UNIONMAINE | no comments

If the MSEA-SEIU was in Canada



If the MSEA-SEIU was a Canadian Union we Couldn’t be blackmailed. Make no mistake about it, we are blackmailed every time we negotiate a contract.

Unions across the United States have made mistakes while bargaining contracts. Short term decisions, a raise this year, $50.00 for tools, or a night shift premium have contributed to our present crisis.


In the short term each goal was a good idea and helped some or all employees. The disaster of working only for short term goals was predicted in the 1940’s by Walter P. Reuther, one of America’s great labor leaders, president the United Automobile Workers union (UAW) between 1946 and 1970. Reuther’s early call for universal health was his one failure. Reuther built the UAW and foresaw the cost health care for Union members would make those benefits a target for cuts and attacks on Union members in the future. He built the UAW but sadly failed to get other Unions on board. In the early years the Unions saw health care as a Union benefit, something to be used as a recruiting tool to gain members.


Short term thinking was the norm up until the 1990’s when the full implications of the anti-Union Reagan and Bush administrations started to have the effect the right was looking for: Unions became weaker, but while becoming weaker they were forced to look to the long term and think about health care for all, retirement for all because they were becoming the targets that Reuther had prophesied.


In Maine Union negotiations for short term goals alone are not responsible for putting us where the legislature is able use the threat of cutting our health care as a club to force contract concessions rather than negotiate fairly.


Unions are not to blame for a collapsing stock market, the housing market and the loss of over $12 trillion dollars in home equity and investments. This depression has killed consumer spending.


UAW workers don’t earn $72.00 an hour, they earn nearly the same and in some cases less than non-union plants.

State employees don’t get cost of living raises, but all these lies make reaching a fair contract more challenging.


Auto industry management, Bush deregulation, and Wall Street greed have put our Union and the State of Maine in the same place. A place where we can fight with each other or work together for the common good.


Where once a good job with benefits allowing a worker to provide for a family was seen as an honest goal, now the right paints anyone working for more than minimum wage as greedy.


At the same time an auto worker or a State employee is painted as greedy the right wingnuts have been screaming for tax cuts for the rich, bankruptcy for the airlines to break Union contracts, and they tried to get their hands on Social Security.


The Unions are not to blame for a dysfunctional, profit driven health care system in the U.S. If we operated under and paid the same as the Canadian system, Maine could be many millions of dollars if not hundreds of millions of dollars ahead of where it is now.


The companies in Canada still pay some dollars towards employee benefits but the the savings for health care could be as much as 50%, putting them in line with costs in Canada.


No government would ever use all of the savings wisely, but some of the savings would still go to workers as higher wages and to taxpayers as lower taxes.


Maine is also picking up part of the tab for many spouses and dependent children. The taxpayer would not have to carry health care costs in a Canadian model health care system.


Taxpayers would have the same health care as State employees and we would no longer be targets for having what everyone deserves.


Even with these additional savings Maine would still be facing serious problems. The Politicians have made a string of bad choices by putting off road repairs, stealing from pension funds, and betting the future on ever rising home prices that would bring in ever higher property taxes.

This is one of the most important contracts we have ever negotiated. It will be a tragedy if the example of good jobs with good benefits is made to to disappear through a depression caused by greed and crooked financial dealings of Wall Street, Reagan, Bush senior and George Bush.


For the most part the legislature is not bad, they don’t hate Unions or State employees, but the situation is made worse by virtue of the fact that most legislators are looking for the easy way out. State employees paychecks are the easy way out.


The public thinks we get cost of living raises every year and raises every year. In one online forum they scream that we should only get a raise equal to the Consumer Price index. I wish! If we had gotten that size raise for the last six years we would have averaged 4% per year, not the 2% per year we actually received.


The public isn’t told that State employees have in effect been taking pay cuts every year for over a decade earning less than inflation and still taking cuts in benefits.


Maine is partially in this disaster due to legislators who are wealthy, and unable to understand where their spending habits have put the State, the taxpayers, and the employees who serve them.


While the appropriations committee was cutting funds for foster children last year one legislator stood in a public hearing and asked me if no one had ever told me that State promises are no good. He was looking for a laugh and thought he was funny. So many of them do not understand what it is to work for a living.

We worry about possible demands that Union members give up previously negotiated wages and benefits while some legislators refuse to listen to ideas that could save the taxpayers millions. The Union and the legislature must start adopting the long view.


They don’t feel the damage they are doing because Maine has a part time legislature and for the most part only those who can afford a legislators chump change salary can serve. They just don’t understand.


As Union members look at their paychecks and wonder if they will be smaller next year, if they will have jobs next year, the legislature holds the club of health care cuts and lay offs over our heads.


Look again at that paycheck, the amount deducted for health care or paid by the State, with this money, the State has helped to pay the CEO of Anthem a multi-million dollar salary performing a job a small group of State employees could be hired to perform. They spend more millions renting buildings that landlords refuse to maintain while State owned property rots for lack of maintenance. Contracts are outsourced and the costs are never checked after the first year. They don’t understand.


The Mainers that are State employees know where the waste is, where the money is going. We want to work with the State to save tax dollars. We see the waste, we love Maine, and we pay taxes too. A partnership could save millions.


Be ready to call your legislator this coming year and tell them you understand, you vote, your family votes, you pay taxes too, and if the citizens of Maine can not get a driver license, the roads go unplowed, the public will remember.


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December 17th, 2008 Posted by narsbars | 2009 contract, Executive Branch Bargaining, MSEA, MSEA contract, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, Maine State Employees, SEIU 1989, Thomas Maher, UNIONMAINE, msea maine, outsourcing, state employee lay offs | one comment

The South Shall Rise Again!


Kill the big three? Punish Unions for greed?

The American car industry is not dead, but we could be buying GM cars from South America if we don’t do something now.

The $14, $15, or even $34 billion is probably only a down payment on what is needed to keep car making alive in the US.

If $34 billion on the table is only a down payment on what it will cost to save car manufacturing consider that we have spent nearly $400 billion bailing out banks that produce NOTHING except profits for those with money to risk.

Why is the right fighting against the bailout?

Payback, Payback, and Profit. Consider the recent election.

Michigan and Ohio are bluer and bluer every year.

The UAW has been earning Republican hate for a long time.

The last stronghold of the GOP is the south, home of right to work and the home of Japanese auto manufacturers.

Republicans are out to screw the Unions, Michigan and Ohio, and the big three.

They want payback for themselves and profit for the foreign manufacturers in the South. The Republicans don’t care that bankruptcy for Detroit would mean a collapse of the U.S. auto industry, costing millions of jobs.

While the big three only employ about 250,000 the fallout would be huge, not to consider the blow to the

American image of leadership. The Republicans are so short sighted they don’t think that the foreign transplants will lose and business. Shifting the country into an even deeper recession will most certainly damage their sales too. Republicans hate unions will punish them, no matter who gets hurt if they have the chance. .

Even if helping the industry that started the industrial revolution in the last century is not enough reason, why should we help rescue bad management and greedy unions?

Three million jobs, bread lines, the US as a third world country owing everything to China, is enough reason for a bailout. The loss of three million jobs would be bad enough, but even worse would be the death of the American dream of a job that earns security and can provide for the families of the workers.

It’s not only the loss of jobs, the massive unemployment, loss of health care and pensions; it is the destruction of the American dream.

If we bail out banks and not companies that produce real goods it will mean the death of hope. I always thought my children could do better than I did, now I think they may be living with me as long as I can hold a job. We have spent $350 billion and if $34 billion buy time to recover, that’s a bargain.

It is much more than the car companies and the UAW, there are many reasons to at least delay the fall of the big three. It is impossible to describe the damage the greed and incompetence the last eight years of both governmental and corporate mismanagement have caused.

In the recent past the executives of the big three have repeatedly laughed at and spent fortunes avoiding building high mileage cars and based their future on selling SUVs and luxury vehicles.

Now after being given a blindfold and a last cigarette there could be a last minute pardon, the Chevy Volt and the UAW are leading the way. The Volt could allow Chevy to jump ahead, the cars will become cheaper with production. The UAW is giving huge concessions in contract language and pay.

In 2009 UAW pay rates will be equivalent to non-union foreign manufactures in the US. Foreign manufactures still enjoy a huge advantage due to the nearly universal presence of national health care, dropping the cost of their cars by nearly ten dollars an hour per employee (for better health care) while their governments tax American car imports at up to 150%.

The big three need a bailout; they make real things rather than manipulate money.

The American working class created the suburbs, the highway system, the dream of a secure retirement whether it was social security or a good company pensions.

The middle class has been mugged repeatedly since the Reagan administration promoted the trickle down theory, while wealth has “trickled up” and poverty trickled down due in part due to continuing attacks on organized labor.

We can start by blaming both labor and management. Beg for billions, show up with three private jets, enough said about management?

The UAW compromised, cut wages to lower than a Toyota plant in Georgia, how can we blame Unions? The Union is willing to work for further compromises. The Republicans want to enforce bankruptcy, smash the Unions, and let the south rise again.



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December 16th, 2008 Posted by narsbars | 2009 contract, MSEA contract, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, SEIU 1989, Thomas Maher, UAW, UNIONMAINE | no comments