UnionMaine

Trust me, I work for the Government

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

Lies, Lies, and a roadmap

Today as a steward I helped a number of employees get the respect they deserve. As a Union representative I heard some problems from some employees. I contacted management and asked if they understood the contract language. Contract language that I helped to write. There was no big fight. A few calls, mention of some old emails and contract language and we all agreed. The result was an agreement that this was all a misunderstanding and that, of course, the employees would get the wages they were due. I honestly don’t think that management intended anything, but because of our Union, management and labor avoided a confrontation and bad feelings. The best result is the employees will get the wages and respect they feel they have earned.
A phone call, a little involvement, and we had a success. We must all be prepared to get involved. I will slip this next comment in quickly. If you want to keep reading any of this blog—comment. I agree with my own writing, except when the voices keep shouting each other down, but I don’t know what you want or even if you want any more of this. It is up to you.

Waiting for State Employees to become involved.


Don’t say the Republicans are sneaky. They are very clear. They do not respect the citizens of Maine or State employees.

I have tried to be even handed recognizing that a good idea or a bad idea has no political party and neither party has a monopoly on being right.

But if you are a State Employee or a citizen of Maine that expects to have good services when you need them you will know who to blame when you can’t register a car or get the roads plowed.

Republicans have put forward their own versions of budget cuts, at least three of which would directly affect state workers.

The GOP members of the Health and Human Services Committee want to require all state workers and legislators to pay ten percent of their health insurance premiums and regardless of how little they make to prohibit them from signing up for MaineCare.

They also want to eliminate vacant state jobs and even knowing my audience I have to say that may have merit. If the cuts were enforced fairly it could work. The remaining employees would share in the overtime needed to do the work. Just don’t say fair to the university system. During the Big Job Freeze the University system just kept on hiring. During the travel ban the University travel budget kept on growing.

The most harmful suggestions will not be able to be put in force now because of fair contracts negotiated by the MSEA-SEIU. Even though we have paid for our benefits in advance for ten, twenty or even more years, they are only guaranteed until 2009. They will be targeted again and again.

Let us put a name to some of the GOP members that think it is OK to break the word of the State and promises given to prospective employees in order to hire talented hard working employees to serve Maine.

Sen. Kevin Raye, R-Perry, and Rep. Robert Walker, R-Lincolnville, said the proposed cuts provide a roadmap for budget cuts over the long term. TRANSLATION: THEY WANT TO KEEP ON CUTTING, NO MATTER HOW HARD IT WILL MAKE IT ON THE CITIZENS OF MAINE. THE NO NEW TAXES PROMISE IS A LIE. NO NEW TAXES UNLESS YOU ARE A STATE EMPLOYEE.

Rep. Henry Joy, R-Crystal, will sponsor a bill to make a joke out of what Mainers voted for, the 55 percent State share of education. His bill would cut the percentage of educational spending the State provides to 49 percent.

Why are we in a race to the bottom? It is because the State Employee plan sets an example for employee coverage that the corporations sponsoring many legislators don’t want to admit is working well and could be affordable for many other employers in Maine.

I have been hoping to see a little more involvement from State Employees in the process but today’s cartoon says it all.

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March 19th, 2008 Posted by narsbars | MSEA, MSEA 2008 bargaining survey, MSEA Dues, MSEA ELECTIONS, MSEA contract, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, Maine State Employees, SEIU 1989, TECHNORATI, msea maine, turnmaineblue | no comments

2008 Bargaining Survey

If you ever think that no one is listening, you are wrong. This year is probably one of the most important years for bargaining in a decade or more. Health care is under attack. The Bush administration is trying to write as many laws as possible to destroy organized labor in an attempt to break our vote and elect John McCain. The federal budget is a mess, our troops are being killed to protect the profits of big oil. The richest country in the world is now the biggest debtor nation in the world.
The State of Maine has a huge deficit and the legislature is thrashing around looking for a way out. They have cut funds for kids, the handicapped, and education. If you don’t thing you need to become involved just to save your job you may be next on the legislative buffet table.
The Union is you. Please become involved, take the survey and let people know what is important to you.
In Solidarity.
Click Here to take survey

Click Here to take survey

March 2nd, 2008 Posted by narsbars | MSEA 2008 bargaining survey, Maine State Employees, Mark Katz, SEIU 1989, STATE EMPLOYEES, TECHNORATI, turnmaineblue | no comments

Apathy or a lack of information?

Dr. Uncle SamThis poster was put out during WW I showing how business and the Government had partnered to destroy the evils of Unionism. Look in the back at the greedy Union boss sneaking out with the money belonging to business and the Public. Listen to any right wing talk show, listen to the K.J. and you will hear the same talk.

Lack of member participation, interest, lack of concern and understanding about their own union and the Labor Movement in general, are reaching critical levels. Until 1/20/2009 the G. Bush labor department will be trying to disassemble a hundred years of labor gains. In Maine a portion of the legislature is preparing a devastating attack on wages and benefits under the guise of saving the public from the rapacious Unions. We will no longer be able to afford both the Mercedes and the Bentley. Some of us may have to fire one of the maids. The lack of concern for learning how to affect their future and the future of their families is a hugely frustrating problem for me. The MSEA has an outstanding monthly newsletter, staff and a website. The chapters have regular meetings; stewards are active and helping members every day. I publish this Blog and still the uphill fight to motivate members to act in their own interest is nothing but uphill over twenty miles of bad road.

Regardless of the web, and the efforts of the active members, we are not getting the level of support that will be needed. I realize that people are busy with jobs, children, and just trying to have a life and they can’t be bothered with one more thing.

We know the signs, the hype has started. State employees will be painted as the devils with the gold plated everything, stealing from the public. I can understand not being interested in the troubles of transit workers in France but I find it amazing that so many Union members seem to have given up the fight before it has started.

If Members are so apathetic, why bother?

I am publishing UnionMaine because I think our members need and want several things that they have not had or not known about.

1. The members need a place where they can freely speak out about what is on their mind. I also invite non-members because they say no one listens. If all it takes is someone to listen to bring them in, I will listen.

2. Members need to know that they can not use the remote to watch their unions and benefits crumble. There is no Tivo for wages and benefits.

3. I don’t know what it will take to get members active but they must learn that they are not alone and there is power in numbers. They need to know that other members share the same concerns. Wages, Health care, retirement and more. Talking to members is the core of the answer, find out what they want, and find out what they will do to help themselves. Most of all they need to know they can make a difference, there is truly strength in numbers.

The State will say “it is bad all around” and we have to take another cut in pay and benefits. State employees could understand a temporary sacrifice to help everyone in the State. With one exception, no cut is ever temporary, no benefits are ever given back The one exception was furlough days. When the State had to get along without State employees they soon realized how much we do to enable the business of government. We regained our lost wages and regained lost respect. Apathetic workers believe that the legislature will do what they will do regardless. They forget that the legislators don’t want to read in the newspapers about employees qualifying for food stamps and they want votes! A highly active Union in Maine could sway fifty to a hundred thousand votes. We have real power; we need to let Augusta know that we will use it.

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December 29th, 2007 Posted by narsbars | MSEA, MSEA ELECTIONS, MSEA contract, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, Maine State Employees, SEIU 1989, STATE EMPLOYEES, TECHNORATI, federal mileage rate, msea maine, turnmaineblue | no comments

Apathy or a lack of information?

This poster was put out during WW I showing how business and the Government had partnered to destroy the evils of Unionism. Look in the back at the greedy Union boss sneaking out with the money belonging to business and the Public. Listen to any right wing talk show, listen to the K.J. and you will hear the same talk.

Lack of member participation, interest, lack of concern and understanding about their own union and the Labor Movement in general, are reaching critical levels. Until 1/20/2009 the G. Bush labor department will be trying to disassemble a hundred years of labor gains. In Maine a portion of the legislature is preparing a devastating attack on wages and benefits under the guise of saving the public from the rapacious Unions. We will no longer be able to afford both the Mercedes and the Bentley. Some of us may have to fire one of the maids. The lack of concern for learning how to affect their future and the future of their families is a hugely frustrating problem for me. The MSEA has an outstanding monthly newsletter, staff and a website. The chapters have regular meetings; stewards are active and helping members every day. I publish this Blog and still the uphill fight to motivate members to act in their own interest is nothing but uphill over twenty miles of bad road.

Regardless of the web, and the efforts of the active members, we are not getting the level of support that will be needed. I realize that people are busy with jobs, children, and just trying to have a life and they can’t be bothered with one more thing.

We know the signs, the hype has started. State employees will be painted as the devils with the gold plated everything, stealing from the public. I can understand not being interested in the troubles of transit workers in France but I find it amazing that so many Union members seem to have given up the fight before it has started.

If Members are so apathetic, why bother?

I am publishing UnionMaine because I think our members need and want several things that they have not had or not known about.

1. The members need a place where they can freely speak out about what is on their mind. I also invite non-members because they say no one listens. If all it takes is someone to listen to bring them in, I will listen.

2. Members need to know that they can not use the remote to watch their unions and benefits crumble. There is no Tivo for wages and benefits.

3. I don’t know what it will take to get members active but they must learn that they are not alone and there is power in numbers. They need to know that other members share the same concerns. Wages, Health care, retirement and more. Talking to members is the core of the answer, find out what they want, and find out what they will do to help themselves. Most of all they need to know they can make a difference, there is truly strength in numbers.

The State will say “it is bad all around” and we have to take another cut in pay and benefits. State employees could understand a temporary sacrifice to help everyone in the State. With one exception, no cut is ever temporary, no benefits are ever given back The one exception was furlough days. When the State had to get along without State employees they soon realized how much we do to enable the business of government. We regained our lost wages and regained lost respect. Apathetic workers believe that the legislature will do what they will do regardless. They forget that the legislators don’t want to read in the newspapers about employees qualifying for food stamps and they want votes! A highly active Union in Maine could sway fifty to a hundred thousand votes. We have real power; we need to let Augusta know that we will use it.

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December 29th, 2007 Posted by narsbars | MSEA, MSEA ELECTIONS, MSEA contract, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, Maine State Employees, SEIU 1989, STATE EMPLOYEES, TECHNORATI, federal mileage rate, msea maine, turnmaineblue | no comments

Marijuana, Guns, Social Security, Unions, Questions for Chellie Pingree

First: The distribution notices were gummed up by BLOGGER yesterday, but they seem to have cleared up the problems. You may have gotten a 403 forbidden and contrary to popular belief the conservatives have not found a way to block free speech……..yet.
The same topics keep coming up again and again, and while IRAQ is on everyone’s lips “all politics are local” and voters want to know if their representative will represent them.

1. Social Security Offset State employees that have contributed to the Social Security system are punished by the Social Security offset. As a member of congress, will you work to repeal this unjust law? What will you do?

2. Describe what you would do to improve the Department Of Labor and how you would make it friendlier to labor. Will you support a card check law on the Federal level? Would you support and Enforce prevailing wage across the country?

3. Unions believe in the right of workers to organize and to bargain collectively. Will you work with Unions to extend and return collective bargaining rights to (ALL) Federal workers that have been denied bargaining rights?

4. What are other major issues upon which your campaign is based?

5. What is your position on the war in Iraq and how soon it can be ended?


EDITOR: So far number 6 has been a third rail for Democrats in Congress or for Candidates. Democrats are portrayed as “gun grabbing liberals” that want national registration leading to confiscation. The “assault weapons” ban is seen as the first step in following in the footsteps of Australia and England.

6. On the second amendment, do you believe your views are consistent with the majority of Mainers? Do you believe the second amendment is an individual right or a collective right? Do you see the need for more gun laws or do you believe we should enforce the laws we have?

Do you support the assault weapons ban? Registering all weapons?

7. Would you vote to allow undocumented workers to collect Social Security?

8. What is your position on Bush tax cuts?

9. What role does the Federal Government have in helping to alleviate the health care crisis in this country?

10. What are the most important things Mainers need to know about you that will help us to decide how to vote?

11. What can you do to help Maine if you are elected? Our current (R) representatives have been ineffective in getting LIHEAP money, increasing the road weight limits, or anything else a congressional representative is supposed to do to help their state.

12. Do you have a position on the legalization of marijuana research and the legalization for medical purposes?


13. This next question comes from Helen Hanson, president of the new MSEA-SEIU Union Local 771

What does she think about cutting Medicare benefits that cover the cost of home health care for our elders? This is a program that pays for the health services an elder receives in their home. Like having a nurse go into the home to do a routine check up or having a physical therapist go into the home to do some physical therapy to help keep the person mobile. Is it better to put these people in a nursing home where those costs are high, the care is not that great? Not to mention that the elders would rather stay in their own homes and be comfortable. The work I do is not covered under Medicare. Home Care for Maine does not receive any Medicare money. HCM does not employ nurses that go into the home for these types of services. But a lot of the consumers that Home Care for Maine helps do receive these types of services from other agencies like Health Reach.
Is Ms. Pingree aware of PCAs and PSSs and the type of work we do? I can give her a brief outline. Please let me now if you’d like a brief outline of what a PCA/PSS does and I’ll be glad to send it.

Editor: I am posting the job description that was previously sent in.

A Personal Support Specialist usually works with a consumer, right in the consumer’s home. The work entails personal care like assisting with bathing, dressing, toileting, etc.

It might entail feeding a consumer. It may be helping them take care of a colostomy or help them take care of a catheter.

It also involves doing things like light housekeeping, meal preparation, laundry and taking the consumer to doctors’ appointments, shopping, and on errands.

The best part of it is the interaction with a consumer. For the most part, they enjoy your visits and greatly appreciate the help they are receiving.

This type of work helps consumers remain in their homes, where they are most comfortable.

Most of the consumers at Home Care for Maine are elders, but there are a few who are younger and disabled from disease.

Personally, I enjoy working with elders. They have so much to offer with their life-long experiences. I love hearing their stories of times gone by.

Helen Hanson
President Local 771
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December 19th, 2007 Posted by narsbars | Chellie Pingree, Kennebec Journal Attacks, MSEA, MSEA contract, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, Maine Congressional Elections, Maine State Employees, SEIU 1989, UNIONMAINE, msea maine, turnmaineblue | no comments

Chellie Pingree Candidate for Congress

Chellie Pingree, candidate for Congress in Maine’s First Congressional District sent in her Biography and the candidate, through her campaign office has agreed to answer questions from readers. What do you want to ask? Sign up for this site, and then place your questions in the comments. We will accept questions until until December 21 but let’s give the candidate a break and not look for answers until after Christmas. I really didn’t know enough about the candidate until I read her biography found here. The record is impressive. The real measure of a candidate is not what they promise but who they are and what they have done. I have written to our two Republican Congressional representatives and they have never bothered to answer. The one time I requested help for a State violation of the Federal Fair Labor Standards act, Snowe’s office finally sent me a message saying it was a State matter. What part of “Federal Fair Labor Standards Act” didn’t she want to understand?
Since the last Congressional election cycle the voters know they can regain control of their country. Please read the candidate’s Biography and check out her voting record. Andy Stern should be hoping she wins.
A couple of excerpts.

Chellie Pingree’s Labor Record

1992 – 2000: Knox County Senator and Senate Majority Leader

…State Senator, including four years as Senate Majority Leader….Chellie demonstrated her strength as a lead and fighter for workers’ rights and the labor movement……She also was a strong supporter of expanding workers’ benefits……Chellie voted…to allow workers to sue their employers and to limit mandatory overtime…she also supported legislation to ban professional strikebreakers. ..note how many battles Chellie fought with labor by her side and vice versa. From corporate accountability to fair pricing of prescription drugs, Chellie’s relationship with labor runs deep and has produced some remarkable victories for the people of Maine.

Pingree’s AFL-CIO COPE Rating

1994:

90%

1996:

93%

1998:

100%

1999:

100%

2000:

100%

Pingree on the Issues 1998-2000

Corporate Accountability: Pingree

sponsored Legislation….so the (State)…could get money back from companies that move jobs out of state. In 1998, Pingree worked with workers and union leaders to pass LD 2243 …….If a company doesn’t comply with the standards laid forth in the Act or fails to create or maintain the jobs as promised in its incentive package, the…provision of the Act kicks in and mandates that the violating company must return all money back to the state. [LD 2243,1999] (Editor: Imagine that, if the company lies, they have to give back the money. I LIKE it!)

Living wage: ….. “We shouldn’t subsidize businesses with economic development incentives and then have to subsidize those workers to get off of food stamps and Medicaid,”


Organizing: Pingree voted to allow legislative workers to join unions. (LD 2096, 4/7/98)

Family and Medical Leave: Pingree voted to expand family and medical leave. (LD 406, 5/6/93)

Permanent Replacement Workers: Pingree voted to prohibit hiring permanent replacement workers. (LD 66, 4/29/97)

Strikebreakers: Pingree voted to prohibit professional strikebreakers. (LD 113, 5/5/97)

Pingree as a Leader for Working Families

Chellie Pin gree fought to keep jobs in Maine. According to the Bangor Daily News, “The workers at Van Baalen [a subsidiary of Nautica] in Rockland will never forget the state senator from North Haven.” ……when the plant announced it would close…….Pingree…worked with company officials to cancel the move..(and)..assisted…with a 330,000-square-foot expansion of the facility that boosted the work force to more than 300 employees.

Nautica Chairman Announcement Business Would Remain in Maine. A few months later, “Our business will remain in Maine,” Nautica Chairman Harvey Sanders said. Van Baalen, a subsidiary of Nautica, is a clothing firm with 135 -1 50 employees and a $3 million payroll, which has been in Rockland since 1939. Because of unprecedented business expansion, the company has outgrown its 200,000 -square-foot building in the city industrial park.

…..Althea Leach of Union, a Van Baalen employee. “She not only talked the talk. She walked the walk,’ Leach said.” [Bangor Daily News, 6/07/0 1]

Pingree on the Issues 2002-2007

Chellie ran a…campaign against….Susan Collins in……2002. (With)….the support and endorsement of virtually all labor unions, and thousands of supporters across the state of Maine, her campaign was considered strong even if it was not a good year from Democrats, in Maine or across the country.

In 2003,Chellie was….national president of the government watchdog organization Common Cause…..she fought for fair elections and “counting every vote,”……Under Pingree’s watch, Common Cause…helped to expose the corrupt ethics and practices of leaders such as Tom Delay and Duke Cunningham.

Pingree continued to be an outspoken and forceful advocate for workers…. At Common Cause she helped…..(fight) the Bush administration from undermining workers rights…..by developing a Free Trade Area of the Americas.

Pingree also led efforts in Washington to fight against no-bid contracts given to companies like Haliburton with little or no oversite and cost controls.

Chellie Pingree on current legislation

If Chellie Pingree were in Congress today, she would be an ally to working people: Pingree supports H.R. 800, The Employee Free Choice Act


Pingree supports H.R. 676, The United States National Health Insurance Act

Pingree would not support additional “free trade” agreements; would push for the reexamination of existing trade agreements,…….

Appointments, Awards and Union Membership

Pingree is a proud member of the National Writers’ Union/UAW Local 1981.

Pingree serves on the board of the national organization, Wal-Mart Watch, and previously served on the board of Families USA, which advocates for universal health care.


Editor: As long as this list of accomplishments is, this is only a heavily edited distillation of the record of Chellie Pingree. Read her record, ask yourself “What would Dick Cheney do?” and you will know we should find out all we can about Chellie Pingree.

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December 15th, 2007 Posted by narsbars | Chellie Pingree, MSEA, MSEA-SEIU, Maine State Employees, Olympia Snowe, SEIU 1989, Susan Collins, TECHNORATI, UNION CANDIDATES, UNIONMAINE, msea maine, turnmaineblue | 3 comments