UnionMaine

Trust me, I work for the Government

Universal Health Care, The other Side.

E.T.I. 2009

The debate about Universal Health care has proponents and opponents. Since I am a firm believer in Universal Health Care I felt that I should go out and listen to the reasons given by the opposition. I have collected the most common reasons and it is only fair to listen to the other side.

I have listed the most common below.

1: With Universal Health Care people would live longer and the money would just be wasted on old people.

2: If you knew you could go to the doctor for yourself or your kids you would go for every minor broken bone and the Government might even end up paying for inoculations to prevent disease. Why pay for something that has not happened?

3: Universal Health Care would stop Americans from paying more and getting less than other counties and that could harm the economy.

4: Single payer countries are run by dictators in lands with no choice, like Canada, and Holland.

5: The people that oppose a single payer system can afford health care and it would be an unfair burden on the rich.

6: Paying insurance companies for poor care is more American than paying taxes and receiving good care.

7: The U.S.A. which has one of the highest infant mortality rates of all the civilized countries would become overcrowded if we let all those babies live.

8: Clients have become fond of their HMO providers and would miss dealing with them.

9: Regardless of how much good would be done, if good is done by government then it must really be bad.

10. It’s fun to see how long you can get one prescription to last by skipping days, and cutting doses. The mental activity helps prevent Alzheimer’s.

Since I write so much about State employees who (for now) still have health care you may ask yourself what this has to do with you.

I listened some more. The other side says we are the worst criminals. By having health care and good wages we are almost single handedly driving out all of the business in Maine. I have listened to the arguments and they sum up to a demand that we give up at least a third of our pay, all of our benefits, and stop being a part of a Union. There are also other demands that want all poorly performing State employees fired immediately. This demand leads right back to the “get rid of the Union” argument, so government can be efficient.

Some how this will then lead all of the businesses to flock to Maine for the low wages. At that time anyone in Maine that wants to work for minimum wage in ugly working conditions (Wal-Mart) will have the opportunity. Did I miss the point? We suffer, business does great, and that is good?

Let me know if I missed the point.

E.T.I. 2009

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October 19th, 2007 Posted by narsbars | MSEA, MSEASEIU, SEIU, SEIU 1984, SEIU 1989, STATE EMPLOYEES, TECHNORATI, UNION CANDIDATES, UNIONMAINE, Union Success, Universal Health Care, VEBA, VSEA | no comments

A light at the end of the tunnel.


E.T.I. 2009
2009 looks a long way away right now. We just finished a contract last July. Remember while you are looking down that long dark tunnel and if you think you see light at the end, it may be a train heading right at you.

It is October and getting time for scary stories. Tell me if any of this article sounds like it could be happening in the legislature now.

I hope this article is just an exercise in creative writing, as I am trying to picture what twisted ideas will be floated by parts of the legislature to balance the budget at the expense of the employees that support the public. My fear is that too much of it is already happening for real.

1. 2008 Secure Retirement Attacks – The Legislature proposes a constitutional amendment to outlaw public employees’ defined benefit pensions and permit only a defined contribution plan.

2. 2008 State Budget Revenues - A deficit is projected for the next biennium and the legislature is proposes cuts to education, employee benefits, aid to local governments, human services and health programs.

3. Outsourcing (school, local government, state) - It is anticipated, given some of the proposals that we will have to wage a defensive effort against privatization.

4. 2008 Outsourcing of DHHS Eligibility Services. The Governor’s plan would transfer eligibility processing from the State by contracting out. This could cut hundreds of jobs in DHHS.

5. 2009 Social Workers, Eligibility workers, Staffing Child Welfare Caseloads, – The social worker caseload ratios are more than four times what they should be in providing services to at-risk children. SEIU members have tried for 25 years to get the standards changed. The government answer will be outsourcing.

6. 2009 PUBLIC/STATE
State Employee Budget Cuts – The Governor’s budget proposes to increase employees’ contribution to retirement and allow employees to opt out of the current retirement system exchange for cash and prohibit the state from offering the current secure retirement plan to new employees. On health care benefits, the Legislature is developing a budget that would eliminate the state’s contribution to health care for new employees until they have passed probation and freeze the state’s contribution to health care for all employees regardless of the cost. Other cuts include furlough days, reduction of overtime, and elimination of two holidays.

7. 2007 There is talk about continued restructuring of State Services and restructuring state government into a few “mega-agencies”. The Governor’s Office would replace the current structure of the Department of Finance, the Bureau of Employee relations DHHS,the Turnpike Authority and Human resources. A performance review proposal to eliminate merit salary adjustments and institute “pay for performance” is already a rumor going around.

9. 2009 A proposal to do away with all health care and put the burden on the members and the Union following the model of the UAW talks is being floated. The following year the legislature, starts crying poor, and cancels it’s promise and refuses to fund the plan.

. At least the UAW will be able to sue if the contracts are not met.

E.T.I. 2009

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October 6th, 2007 Posted by narsbars | MSEA, MSEASEIU, SEIU, SEIU 1984, SEIU 1989, STATE EMPLOYEES, TECHNORATI, UNIONMAINE, VSEA | no comments

Welcome 771 In Maine the Union is growing!

E.T.I. 2009
This is dedicated to a number of new Union members.
I just met some members of Local 771 at the Union Caucus. They were new and they wanted to find out what was going on. They want to know, now they are in the Union what can we do to help them?
I told them some of the following:
You have taken the first step, a great step. You have joined together. The first question that usually shows up is “what now”? Your Union reps will start having meetings with you and start to help you find out what rights you have as Union members. That is right, you now have some rights and you have some people to help you. Please remember the first people to help you will be your fellow members in 771. You will have to talk to each other, talk to your officers, but above all you have to talk to each other you are not alone.
There are always bumps in the road and there are always second thoughts. Union members have the same worries as non union workers, but they have someone to share with, someone to help build with.
Now that you can speak with one voice, you will have a place at the table. While not everything will happen all at once, there will be progress. As members of a National Union we all know that by helping you, we help ourselves.
You are now members of the fastest growing Union in the country and we all care about each other. When you need help, we are there, you are not alone.

Welcome to all of you. In Solidarity
E.T.I. 2009
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October 1st, 2007 Posted by narsbars | MSEA, MSEASEIU, SEIU, SEIU 1984, SEIU 1989, STATE EMPLOYEES, TECHNORATI, UNIONMAINE, VSEA | one comment

PRIVATIZE STATE SERVICES


E.T.I. 2009
Unions are trying to learn to use technology to help find out what the members want and what they think is important.
We have been doing that in bits and pieces for a long time. We use our email, we use our computers, but are we reaching anyone? From the number of people that show up at chapter meetings it doesn’t look like we are doing a very good job. On the forum “As Maine Goes” there is a huge Audience discussing Unions, Politics, and so many topics it is hard to believe. The point is that people are interested, they are expressing themselves, and sharing and growing stronger by association. The Anti Fair Share crowd has a great audience. Mark Turek has not gone anywhere he has just stopped working for the State.

We need to reach more people. We need to reach the Politicians, the same politicians that post on As Maine Goes on a regular basis.

Come to HTTP://UnionMaine.Informe.com and get some friends to come. If you have an opinion you want to put out there but you don’t want to use your name or your regular email I will be posting “How to” articles on how to get free email addresses you can use to keep your privacy.

I am going to my Union Caucus this morning. It is a little after Seven AM and if fifty people show up out of thousands of members this may be my last post unless one of the members knows CPR.

WANTED FOR FREE.
I need to post some articles on what is going on in the Union and in the State. Do you know anything that people should know? Do you have a friend that has something to say? Are there any rumors you want to find out about? Email me at NARSBARS@GMAIL.COM or just leave an anonymous comment. You may think you are the only one that knows about something or the only one that cares. You are not alone, that is why we are in a Union.

E.T.I. 2009

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September 29th, 2007 Posted by narsbars | MSEA, MSEASEIU, PRIVATIZE, SEIU, SEIU 1984, SEIU 1989, STATE EMPLOYEES, TECHNORATI, UNIONMAINE, VSEA | no comments

Chief Steward Sharon Carroll fights for DHHS

E.T.I. 2009

Arbitrator’s Decision

DHHS Pay Cycle Change Violated Contracts, Yet Arbitrator Finds No Loss of Pay

On September 19, an arbitrator ruled that the state violated the contractual rights of 2,500 Maine Department of Health & Human Services workers whose pay cycles were unilaterally switched in March of 2006. Yet the arbitrator also ruled that the affected workers suffered no loss of pay. In the 51 page ruling which was initiated by Chief Steward Sharon Carroll, the arbitrator ordered remedies relating to the calculation of the affected workers’ group life insurance and retirement benefits. The arbitrator also retained jurisdiction in the matter in the event there are any further disputes in the matter.

Why do we fight so hard when we can lose so big? Sharon fought to fix the rip off of DHHS workers who were cheated of pay they earned. Fifty one pages and no one will read them all, but you can be sure that Sharon has read every page and given everything to fix this crime. Don’t blame the Union! This case could have gone another way and if it did the State could change your pay period every year and say “no harm, no foul”. One person stood up with the help of the Union and tried to fight. We did not win what we thought was right, but we stopped them from doing it again! If one dedicated steward can make a difference, one brave woman can be willing to stand up and back them off, I think we owe her a debt. The only way we can be safe is if the State knows we will fight back! Sharon has a enough years with the State that they could offer to buy her off with a promotion. They can threaten her with bad job assignments. It won’t work.

Sharon is dedicated to helping her coworkers. I can tell you that I know she has given up chances to help herself if only she would quit helping her Union brothers and sisters.

This Steward won’t quit! This Steward will “give em hell!”. You can only hope that she is your steward if you need to be protected from unfair treatment.

Sharon,

Please know we all thank you. We know how hard you fight. You don’t get paid to help us. You do it because you think it is right.

Thank you for your time. Thank you for caring. Thank you for risking retaliation from management that cares only for money and not for the employees.

We don’t win them all, but if we don’t fight we will LOSE THEM ALL!

Sharon, Thank you, and know that we appreciate what you do.

E.T.I. 2009
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September 21st, 2007 Posted by narsbars | MSEA, MSEASEIU, SEIU, STATE VIOLATES CONTRACT, TECHNORATI, UNIONMAINE, VSEA | one comment

Fair to Fair Share? New Discussion Forum Opening

E.T.I. 2009

New Discussion forum being set up.
Read the link at the bottom.

Next Month, Union Members through their delegates will vote on how the Union should be run. Members just finished voting on a new contract but a number of fee paying employees don’t have that option. Why can even prisoners in Maine still vote? It is because of the importance of this right.

If you do not join the Union, but pay the Union to negotiate a contract for you, should you have the right to judge the product? Should fee payers be denied the right to a ballot, or should Fair Share members be treated fairly?

In our democracy, there’s a belief that everyone should be allowed to vote. I think that there are both practical and fair reasons for this. The practical reason is that the more people are involved in freedom the stronger the freedom will stay. The more people that vote, the more interest there will be in the issues that affect our jobs and our families. For fairness we should ask if only smart people, or Democrats, or people we agree with be allowed the vote? How do we identify who should have the right to vote? We are Mainers and we are U.S. citizens and that gives us a real hate for being bossed around without having some say. “No taxation without representation.” Before Fair Share there was no vote, and there was no taxation.

Now if fee payers want to keep their jobs they will pay the Union to negotiate the contract that will affect their jobs and benefits. They will pay, or they will leave.


If it sounds like I am being too nice to fee payers let me say that there must be limits. W can not let non members vote on everything. Fee Payers should not be allowed to run for office, or be a member of a bargaining committee, or vote for anything except the minimum they have elected to pay, by keeping their jobs. They have no concern and no interest in Union Political actions, social affairs, or even communications. A clear unbreakable barrier must be drawn between paying the absolute minimum and being willing to go beyond and help your fellow employee and Union members. Why should they not vote on other issues? Because we don’t trust them and their judgment or their interest in their fellow employees. They can not be trusted to judge actions that they have chosen not to be a part of. We don’t let kids vote, we don’t willingly let illegal aliens vote and we do not see that as unfair because they are not full members of our society. We don’t let children vote through lack of experience and Illegal aliens through lack of commitment to the laws of our land. Remember though, children can grow and immigrants have made this country what it is by coming to love their fellow Americans.

Even if we allow a vote on our contract we cannot allow any rights beyond voting for a contract because we can not give someone unwilling to join in a common goal equal rights to that of any other member in running the Union.

The question is whether Fee Payers belong in the voting denied category? I think the answer is in two parts. We trust them to pay for negotiations. We respect their judgment enough to let them make up their minds to pay or to go. In other words we treat them like adults. WE are taking their money and promising negotiations. Shouldn’t they get a vote on whether they like what they paid for? The second part of the answer is that they can not vote on any issue other than yes or no on a contract because they have shown they have no trust or involvement with their fellow employees. If you are not willing to be involved completely then you shouldn’t be able to make the rules for everyone else.

If we do not give fee payers the right to vote on what we have demanded they pay for, there can be no involvement, there can be no healing or growth.

What is the “real world impact” of allowing fee payers to vote? Could a few fee payers change a contract approval? Not if we have a healthy involved membership. If a few fee payers can bring down our Union do we deserve to keep power by any means whether fair or foul?


Some members have said that they fear that letting fee payers vote will result in the Union being taken over by Union Busters. I’m not afraid that the MSEASEIU will be taken over by AGEM if we let them vote on contracts. If they can vote, they will discuss, and if they start discussions, they will become involved. Involvement will bring education and that education will change their minds. As for those we cannot change I think that if we give a face and a voice to opposition we will be respecting the right of free speech and we will let the members see exactly what they are up against. I also think that we will make a difference to some future members that are now only paying a fee. Be perfectly clear, that while I think they should get a vote since they are paying for the product I completely oppose giving them any rights they are unwilling to pay for in commitment and money.

I have set up a link for discussion at http://unionmaine.informe.com/

As Maine Goes has been doing a Great Job of providing a discussion forum for every type of viewpoint and I am far from too humble to copy success. I hope you like it.

E.T.I. 2009

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September 20th, 2007 Posted by narsbars | AGEM, FAIR SHARE, MSEA, MSEASEIU, SEIU, STATE EMPLOYEES, TECHNORATI, UNIONMAINE, VSEA | no comments

Candidates for Union Vice President


E.T.I. 2009

This is a direct copy from the MSEA home page. These are public statements by candidates, so I am publishing them here for comment. If you like a candidate, if you know something they have done to help the members please let us know. I will be putting up a poll to see how the voting might go.

First is a Statement by Bruce Hodson, current VP, running for president. In respect for fairness I will say that I am endorsing Bruce for President. I have enclosed a statement to that effect.

Vice President Bruce Hodsdon Seeks MSEA-SEIU Presidency

Hi, my name is Bruce Hodsdon and I am running for the office of President of MSEA/SEIU Local 1989. Over the past 3 years I have had the honor of serving as your Vice-President. Thanks to the support I’ve received from your President Dana Graham, I have been able to visit many of your chapters and I have been involved in much of the decision making involved in running our Union. I feel that those 3 years combined with my 20 + years of service to MSEA/SEIU Local 1989 make me qualified for the job.

I believe that MSEA/SEIU Local 1989 is at a crossroads. We are at a time where we need to take an inward look at our Union and how it runs. The result of that inward look will determine if MSEA will continue to grow and be a potent force for all its members or whether it will become another Union hanging on to the old ways of doing things. Any organization that does not have some kind of plan to move forward and have some sort of vision or idea of where they want to go is doomed to failure. Our world is changing and we must continue to change with it in order to survive.

In order to accomplish that change, I have several things I would like to accomplish over the next few years. First is beginning the review of our organization. Our current organizational structure was developed in the 1970’s and we need to move into the 21st century. As part of that review we also to need look at upgrading our technology and the development of a database of our membership that fully addresses our needs is a priority. We need to know who our members are and where they work.

Next I would like to continue holding worksite meetings like we had during the decertification fight. These meetings would continue the conversations we need to have with all our members. I would propose the first round of those meetings address what kind of services members expect from MSEA and what are the best ways to deliver them. This could include everything from changing the current chapter structure, changing our Board of Director’s structure, and changing our staff structure. Inherent in all these discussions is the need for a forum where members can feel comfortable putting forward their views.

We will begin to put together our next round of contract bargaining in late 2008. I agree with the proposal put forward by the Bargaining Committee that a year round bargaining action team be formed. This team would be charged with collecting bargaining proposals year round and then doing research on those proposals. This team would also be charged with reviewing the 2006-2007 bargaining session and then recommending any changes or improvements to that process to the Board of Directors for their action.

One thing that seems to always come up during my visits to chapter meetings is the lack of attendance at meetings and the lack of communication with members. I believe that the creation of “informational stewards” could help in addressing some of those problems. These informational stewards would maintain bulletin boards (remember those?) and help chapter leadership pass along important information to our members. It’s important to recognize that the best way to communicate will vary from worksite to worksite. By leaving this job to the individual chapters and worksites we will identify and make use of the right way to get the word out.

We must also remember that in order to accomplish these goals we need the resources to do the best job possible. That includes not only dues increases but also an increase in member involvement and participation. Without adequate finances our ability to represent members, address Legislative and work place issues, and continue to grow our strength will slowly erode. Without the member’s involvement and participation we will become stagnant and irrelevant. If our Union is to continue to be strong it will require a commitment from all of us.

These are a few of my ideas about some things we might do over the next few years. I look forward to hearing from you and listening to your suggestions.

In closing I would ask that you give me the opportunity to continue the work begun by President Graham and elect me as the next President of MSEA-SEIU Local 1989. Together we can make MSEA-SEIU Local 1989 the best possible Union it can be.

At this time there is only one candidate for President, Bruce Hodson. I have worked with Bruce and he listens to the members. In the past we had MSEASEIU employees that were not popular. They were not popular for a number of reasons, but most of them boiled down to attitude. They thought they knew better than members, they gave the impression of cutting deals on the side. Bruce Hodson will listen to members, he knows who he is representing and he will put up with no X&$^) or BS from any employee of the Union. He will do his best to do what the members want and to shape the Union in the way the members decide.
I fully support his candidacy and I hope he is our next president.

We must think ahead, one of the candidates listed below will likely be our next president. Think ahead and weigh carefully. I firmly believe that all of the candidates want to do a great job as VP and they will all try their best. It is up to the members to decide who is best qualified.

Candidates for MSEA-SEIU Vice President

Editor’s Note: Candidates for MSEA-SEIU elected office had the option of submitting candidate statements and photos for publication in the Stater. The following statements were received from candidates running for Vice President.

Kathryn J. Latulippe

Dear Members:

I guess it is time that I tell you about myself, something that I rarely do. I want the voting Delegates and members to have a better grasp of who I am while they consider me for the position of Vice President of our union.

My Dad had a career in the Army. He was born here in Chelsea and graduated from Cony. Upon retirement form the military he worked and retired from DOT (member of MSEA). Everyone in our family of five was born in different state with me being the middle child and a Libra to boot. While growing up we traveled and lived in different states and in Germany. Dad first retired when I was 9 and I have lived in the greater Augusta area ever since. My Mother (a member of MSEA) also worked for the state at the AMHI complex and for DHHS before her retirement.

I find that by the nature of birth I have always been a mediator / negotiator with the need to keep balance in my life. I have the empathic ability to pick up on strong emotions. I am a Past Matron of O.E.S. My daughter, who works for DAFS in Augusta, is involved in union activities and my son joined the Army after high school and then the Maine National Guard and works at Camp Keys in Augusta. They have given me two wonderful grandsons and granddaughters.

I have worked in DHHS, Agriculture, DOT, Workers’ Compensation, DEP and now PFR. When I was in my twenties I drove and helped repair dump trucks for my first husband.

I keep stepping into union activities using the traits I learned and was born with. In addition to having been a Director for the last 6 years I have also been on the Executive Branch Bargaining Committee and Team for the last 4 contracts. I have held the title of President in the Gardiner Chapter for 2, 3 year terms. I am the Chair of our departmental Labor/Management Team and at one time was on the Health & Safety Team. I chaired the state wide Labor/Management Committee for Alternative Work Schedules. I am a steward and have been on the Finance, Representational, Organizational and Political Sub-Committees as a Director. Currently, I am also on the Vision for the Future Committee. I have enjoyed everything I have done to help the members and our union. I am committed to continue doing the best I can for you, our members, and our union, MSEA/SEIU Local 1989. That is why I am running for Vice President. You have several candidates to choose from as your Vice President and I am asking you to vote for me.

Thank you.

Kathryn J. Latulippe

Ginette Rivard

Brothers and Sisters,

Proud to be union! Proud to be MSEA SEIU Local 1989! I learned respect for public servants growing up in a family of Transportation workers. I learned the value of a union job living in a union household my entire adult life; first as an IBEW family member, and since 1991, through my own membership in our Union.

Prior to membership in MSEA, I served my community in numerous ways: Girl Scout Leader, Chair of a local Zoning Board of Appeals, Child Abuse & Neglect Council Member, and Church Youth Group Advisor to name a few. Since membership in MSEA, I’ve served as Director, Steward, PASER member, Deferred Compensation Advisory Council Member, AFL-CIO Executive Board Director and on numerous standing committees. President Graham appointed me as a Labor Rep to the DHS/BDS merger committee in 2003 and the Managed Care Stakeholder Group in 2006, so that the interests of our affected members were protected in these deliberations.

Along with my union activism, I bring a range of professional experience stemming from my years as a public servant working with Children’s Behavioral Health Services at DHHS. I have been involved in a number of initiatives, including the coordination of a statewide family conference for 6 consecutive years. This past year, I have led three separate initiatives involving other state agencies, social services providers and community members. This work has culminated in the successful merger of these three initiatives into one group, focused on improving the lives of children and families in our communities. The skills needed in these types of activities will be valuable in service to the members of our union from every community, every worksite in our great state.

Many of you associate me with political activities. Everything I know about politics I learned from my dad. He taught me that you had to fight for what you believed in. He taught me that it was more about knocking on doors, making those phone calls and getting people to the polls than it was about having your picture taken or going to the fancy parties. And he taught me that we had to hold our elected officials accountable once we had helped get them elected.

So it stands to reason that you will find me talking to Legislators on both sides of the aisle about why they can’t change our health insurance plan, why the budget can’t be balanced with our insurance premiums, why the cliff is bad public policy and Social Security offset harmful to our retirees and why they cannot cut our jobs. The attacks on our jobs and benefits are far from over and I welcome the opportunity to work with even more members throughout the state to make our voice heard in every worksite, community, and with every Legislator. We have every reason to be proud of the work we’ve accomplished to date. As we look to the future we must continue to fight for the rights of working men and women. In the process, we must continue to expand our role to be even more inclusive of all worksites we represent, no matter how small the Bargaining Unit.

As your next Vice President, I will continue to devote the same commitment, energy and integrity to the job that you have come to expect from me. Thank you for your support.

Rebecca Snowden

My name is Rebecca Snowden and I am running for the seat of Vice-President of MSEA. These are a few things you should know about me. I’ve been a dedicated hard worker for the Department of Transportation since 1993. Currently I work in the Contracts Unit as an Engineering Technician. I am an MSEA Steward and Chief Steward. I am a member of the MDOT/MSEA Labor/Management Committee and the L/M Health and Safety Committee. I work very hard for our members as a Steward and Chief Steward. Recently I have won overtime status and back pay for several employees and I have many more irons in the fire. As MSEA’s Vice President, I believe I would provide strong leadership and if I am elected I will work to create positive changes and will work hard for employees.

Penny Whitney-Asdourian

Hello to all my union brothers and sisters!

I am Penny Whitney-Asdourian of Scarborough and I work for the Judicial Branch. Most of you know me as a director from Area III or the quilter who loves to donate quilts to PASER. My goal is for you to come to know my passion and commitment to MSEA and the labor movement.

I have been a member of MSEA for 25 years. It certainly doesn’t seem that long ago when I sought out the help of the union to gain collective bargaining rights for Judicial Branch employees. It was one of the best decisions of my life. Since that time I have been active in various roles. I have been a member of every bargaining team that has negotiated a Judicial Branch contract, held each of the various chapter offices, and have sat on a variety of committees and labor/management teams. I have also been a steward since my initial involvement, and a chief steward for the past 12 years. I am a political organizer, a member organizer, and have served on MSEA’s Board of Directors for more than three years now.

I have grown up in this union, and doing so has helped to foster within me a true sense of belonging and a deep commitment. A commitment to the legacy of our founding members and retirees who laid the foundation upon which MSEA has been built and who continue to serve as an inspiration to those members and leaders who have mentored me over the years and who continue to be positive role models and trusted advisors, and to each and every one of you, the members, activists and future leaders of MSEA.

For several years now, I have diligently and intentionally worked toward the goal of taking on a much more active role within the leadership of this great organization, believing when the time was right, I would be able to present myself to the membership as a well-rounded candidate for Vice-President. Now is that time.

While politics will never be my strong suit, I have gained great confidence by actively participating. I have been an active member of PASER for several years. In 2004 I took leave from my position with the Judicial Branch to work on MSEA’s Get Out the Vote campaign, helping to achieve the goal of getting members out to their town caucuses and getting them elected as delegates to the 2004 state convention. It was a great experience, and I was elected at the Portland caucus to attend the Maine Democratic Convention as a delegate, where I campaigned to be elected as a delegate to the National Democratic Convention. My continued active participation ensures further insight, growth and a greater level of a understanding and confidence.

Representational service is an area where I am well experienced and feel I excel. Negotiating contracts, actively participating in and chairing labor/management committees, being an active steward and mentoring other stewards in my role as a chief steward are exceptionally comfortable roles for me, while at the same time they offer new experiences and unique challenges.

One of the most rewarding aspects for me, to date, has been in organizing. I have worked on several organizing campaigns, starting with the Judicial Branch employees. In recent years I have actively participated in campaigns for Head Start, Alpha One, and Child Development Services. I have enjoyed the home visits and listening to the stories of these workers – stories of struggle and the desire for positive change. What always leaves the greatest impression with me is the selflessness and overwhelming commitment to the services they provide

I have seen a lot of changes and growth throughout my relationship and association with MSEA. Our foresight and vision have improved as we have moved toward approaching the future with more proactive planning. We stand strong in the face of adversity and it strengthens our resolve. I am proud to be a member of this union and equally proud of you, its members. I would be honored to serve as your Vice President and respectfully ask for your support and your vote. I look forward to seeing you at convention and serving you over the next four years.

In Solidarity,

Penny S. Whitney-Asdourian

E.T.I. 2009

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September 15th, 2007 Posted by narsbars | MSEA, MSEASEIU, SEIU, SEIU 1984, STATE EMPLOYEES, TECHNORATI, UNION CANDIDATES, UNIONMAINE, VSEA | no comments

UNION WAGES WEAKENING AMERICA


E.T.I. 2009

The true cost of Union Labor. Union labor on the average Union labor earns more than non union. Union labor gets more benefits than non labor. Union labor is now only a small part of the American work force, although growing in Maine! Do the numbers, 16% of the American workforce is Union, earning about 20% more than non- union. That is 1/5 of 16% or about 3.2% additional cost for all products. Union work is blamed for destroying our competitiveness, yet a C.E.O. on the average earns 343 times the average salary of over $40,000.00, not counting perks. This is a short post to make up for the last one.
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E.T.I. 2009

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September 11th, 2007 Posted by narsbars | MSEA, MSEASEIU, SEIU, SEIU 1984, SEIU 1989, TECHNORATI, UNION GREED, UNIONMAINE, VSEA | no comments

Ups and Downs and Up again

E.T.I. 2009

I read a lot, here is a collection of ideas from everywhere in the Union world. The theme is that Unions are weaker, we are under attack, but there are signs for hope. There are things we can do.
If anyone actually reads this whole post, I would love to meet you.



How are you doing America?

NAFTA CAFTA, globalization, and more workers than jobs all threaten the American worker. The result is Corporations with low costs and growing profits. Business Week magazine reported “the share of (US) national income going to corporate profits (compared to labor) is hovering around a 50 year high.

Having millions of workers in countries with no labor protection and a steady supply of illegal immigrants that can be threatened if they don’t take what is offered leads to a race to the bottom for wages and benefits.

Organized Labor in the US – Up and then the long fall

In 1800s companies became richer and richer and employees wanted a share of the benefits. They turned to unions for help.

In the 1880s, labor was able to strike for better pay and working conditions like the eight hour day. Only a few of the troublemakers were shot and beaten, or both.

While the AFLCIO is still the country’s largest federation of unions even after the (SEIU), Teamsters, and more left, Organized labor’s numbers are dropping. (NOW GOING UP IN MAINE) We are fighting Corporate money and globalization. The modern attack on worker rights began with Reagan. In the early part of the 1900s after living through firings, killings and threats, the Unions won an eight-hour day, a living wage, and benefits because strong unions defied the company power and money and won. Corporations pay their politicians by leaving money on the bureau after they have done their business with congress.

The Unions have always been on the weaker side but that was not enough for business. Big business paid for the passage of the Taft-Hartley Labor-Management Relations Act in 1947. Taft-Hartley feeds business by giving the President power to stop strikes by court-ordered injunction for 80 days. The act was claimed to be for National Security when it was actually for corporate profits. National Security is the same justification used now, to deny hundreds of thousands of Federal workers Union protection.

George Bush used TH in 2002 against 10,500 west coast dock workers “locked out” (not striking) by the Pacific Maritime Association representing shipping companies and terminal operators.

Bush has always showed his hate for labor. He used the Railway Labor Act against a threatened strike by mechanics, cleaners and custodians at Northwest Airlines, and against United Airlines’ mechanics. He fought for management in 2006 against Northwest’s flight attendants’ job action against the bankrupt airline’s unfair demands for huge wage cuts and increases in hours worked. Even “our friend” Bill Clinton used the Railway Labor Act against American Airline’s pilots and to prevent railroad strikes over and over.

It has been the steady attack of money buying anti labor laws that has brought down Union membership. I have to add that the big cases of Union corruption although not the rule, painted Unions as crooked. The laws weakened or revoked worker protections and lowered workers bargaining power. Taft-Hartley allows stiff penalties for union violations but tiny penalties for companies. It enacted a list of “unfair (union) labor practices” and legalized employer interventions aimed at preventing union organizing campaigns.

There are still no real punishments for corporations that fire Union organizers.

Ronald Reagan started his attack on labor in his first year. In 1981 he fired 11,000 striking PATCO air traffic controllers, imprisoned its leaders, and fined the union millions of dollars. He succeeded in busting the Union.

After WW II Union membership was up to 35%, then falling to about 25% and staying steady until the Reagan years. Membership is now about 16% with about 7% in the private sector and about 36% of government workers. Union membership is the lowest in the private sector in 100 years.

George Bush’s support for corporations and attacks on unions is an attempt to give companies complete control of the workplace. Using 9/11 as an excuse, he attacked government unions immediately. He denied 170,000 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) employees civil service protection and the right to collective bargaining.

Why do they hate Unions? Union, organized workers make more money and benefits. A great reason to organize and all the reason the corporations need to fight Unions.

  • Most Union members have employer-paid health care coverage. Many fewer private sector employees have paid coverage and they pay more for their share.
  • over two-thirds of union members have short-term disability insurance compared to about one-third for nonunion workers;
  • Union members get more vacation time and more total paid leave than nonunion workers.

Organizing gives workers power so of course management wants to destroy them. It’s to deny working people their right to organize, earn more and get greater benefits corporations don’t want to provide. The G. Bush National Labor Relations Board ruled 3-2 against registered nurses’ right to union membership if they perform certain minimal supervisory duties.

US law doesn’t give supervisors the right to organize.

Bush ended the Clinton administration’s regulation requiring federal agencies vet companies’ compliance with the law when awarding federal contracts.

Just the way Ronald Reagan busted PATCO, George Bush started out the way he intended to continue. Georgie is a union-hater, and he declared open season on workers and their rights under his administration.

  • stripping workers of their right to unionize;
  • cutting pay raises for 1.8 million federal workers on the pretext of a “national emergency;”
  • denying millions overtime pay;
  • appointing anti-union officials;
  • scheming to weaken (and then end) retirement security by replacing Social Security with risky private accounts managed by Wall Street sharks that so far has gotten nowhere because of public opposition to it;

The failed “immigration reform” legislation was aimed at organized labor in a plan to create a workplace of near slaves having few or no benefits and no security.

The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) – Some Hope for Worker Rights Now Denied

EFCA was introduced to “amend the (pro-labor) National Labor Relations Act that’s been systematically ripped to pieces ever since. Its aim was to “establish an efficient system to enable employees to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to provide for mandatory injunctions for unfair labor practices during organizing efforts, and for other purposes.” Senate Republicans blocked labor’s top legislative priority by preventing the bill’s supporters from getting the 60 votes needed to end debate and bring it to a vote.

For now the bill is dead, but if it ever passes, it will change federal law on worker rights. They’ll henceforth be able to organize by signing cards authorizing union representation, penalize employers violating worker rights to do it, and establish new mediation and arbitration processes for first-contract disputes. It might also end or slow down the firing, demoting, laying off, or suspending without pay of over 20,000 US workers annually because of their union activities.

The US Chamber of Commerce and big business fought against the bill. They oppose any worker rights, and their lobbying paid off. They claimed the bill allowed workers to organize before employers can explain why having a Union is not in their best interest. Could it really be that over and over it proves out that union workers have more rights, higher pay, greater benefits and added job security?

Dick Cheney promised that George Bush would veto EFCA legislation if it passed.

Right after Labor Day 2007, organized labor is weak after decades of government and business working together to grind down the middle class. The Employee Free Choice Act almost made it, but Senate Republicans killed it.

Labor is struggling to retain a role and improve its leverage. It will be a hard job, but we made this country great doing hard jobs.

Outsourcing

(GATT) in 1948, the ILO (International Trade Organization) in 1946 Then the IMF and now the World Bank.

GATT was followed by the WTO in 1995; one year after NAFTA took became a weapon of mass destruction for jobs.

The WTO is a corporate-friendly cover for agreements designed to do one thing. It’s to help corporations become the new world order by crushing member states’ sovereignty. All the rules must be good for money, not good for people.

The UN’s International Labor Organization’s (ILO) commission issued a condemnation of the damage and hurt world trade rules caused.

Starting unnoticed in the 1950s the exporting of jobs to low-wage countries began. Then the jobs making cars, shoes, clothing, electronics, and toys along with clerical work to India. Call centers, credit cards, and so called customer service followed the higher paying jobs out of the country.

What’s leaving now is big business. They move, and sell us the goods, and with a paid for Congress they don’t pay taxes because they are a foreign company.

The SEIU realized how important the service industry is. Services are now 84% of the economy. Manufacturing is done in countries with little to no labor laws. In South America they are still shooting Union organizers. The few good jobs left are under attack with the right claiming that anyone that has a good job or good benefits has taken it from someone else. Hedge fund managers make sixteen thousand times the average wage and pay 50% of the taxes the regular citizen pays. The average CEO pay is 343 times the average wage. How can they blame Unions?

Unions are no longer strong, and workers that had good pay with good benefits like full health insurance coverage and pensions have lost them to bankruptcies by companies that stole the pension funds and some that return from bankruptcy like the airlines but never have to pay their workers.

Except for the new gains by some unions private service sector jobs have suffered lost wages, benefits, job security and overall working conditions. There are fewer good jobs. Unions are weak, and workers are at the mercy of employers that have bought the law. In September 2007 American workers were reported to be the most productive in the World or the second most depending on how you read the numbers. We work more hours and take less time off than any civilized nation. We are the only civilized nation without guaranteed health care. They don’t hire part time workers at Wal Mart because of a lack of work. It is a design to destroy worker rights and make them a disposable unit.

The jobs at risk as reported by the University of California in 2004 and by Gartner Research predicts as many as 30% of high-tech jobs may be lost to low-wage countries by 2015. In 2006 former Federal Reserve vice-chairman Alan Blinder estimated 28 – 42 million American service sector jobs could be lost to foreign labor.

Once India took low-skill and routine programming jobs. Now the engineering jobs, the banking, pharmaceuticals, and more are leaving. The cycle does not stop. Outsourcing companies that supplied labor in India are now outsourcing it to other countries because the wages have gone up so much.

We are not gaining, we are not staying even.

Adjusted for inflation, the average American worker now earns less than in the mid-1970s with the minimum wage unchanged at $5.15 an hour since 1997 until the 110th Congress raised it over George Bush’s objections. Until the increase, minimum worker pay was at the lowest point relative to average wages since 1949.

One in three jobs in the country pay low wages, $11.11 per hour or less) with few or no benefits like health insurance, pensions or retirement.

The desire of the corporations was to achieve extreme wealth at the top, a dying middle class, and a growing underclass of low-paid workers grateful for any crumbs.

After the 1920s, the nation experienced a growth in the middle class incomes rose due to the New Deal and Great Society programs, strong unions, and a fair tax system for individuals and corporations. Since then the corporations have fought back “Only the little people pay taxes”

“Wal-Martization means corporate America wants to control labor costs by outsourcing jobs, de-unionizing, hiring temps and part-timers, and removing internal career ladders to boost profits at the expense of people. The only jobs left are dead-end, low-wage jobs with laws that have been paid for by corporations to keep it that way. This is no accident this is a long term plan by separate corporations with the same goal. Destroy organized labor.

In 2005 the top 1% of Americans (about 3 million people) got their largest share of national income since 1928 – 21.8%, up from 19.8% 2004 or a 10% gain. Further, the top 10% received 48.5% of all reported income in 2005, also the highest level since 1928, up 2% from 2004, and one-third since the late 1970s.

The top one-tenth of 1% (about 300,000 people) got as much income in total as the bottom 150 million Americans combined. In 2005 the total of all reported income went up almost 9%. The average income for the bottom 90% of the population dropped .6% from 2004.

The Bush tax cuts for the wealthy only helped the rich with a big slice of the benefits going to big corporations. In the 1950s, corporations contributed an average of 28% to federal revenues. Then corporate share of government taxes fell to 21% in the 1960s and 10% and falling since the 1980s. The corporate tax rate is supposed to be 35%, but according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), 94% of major corporations now pay less than 5% of their income in taxes. Many large companies pay no tax, and some end up with sizable rebates on top of huge corporate welfare subsidies under a system of socialism for big corporations and the rich.

The share of national income going to wages and salaries is the lowest on record based on data going back to 1929. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) reported wage and salary growth in the current recovery growing at half the average rate for post-recessionary periods since the end of WW II while corporate profits in the current period grew over 50% more than the post-WW II average. It’s the first time on record, corporate profits got a larger share of income growth in a recovery than wages and salaries – 46% to 34%.

Attack the poor and the sick

Most of the States and the Federal Government had some benefits and retirement in place for many of their employees as early as the late 1920s. Even the private sector added some small amounts of health care, pensions, life insurance and sick pay.

The Great Depression changed everything created the atmosphere that allowed the rise of worker rights and benefits. The 1920s anything goes corporate greed and loose corporations without regulation sickened the country.

The “bubble up” theory of recovery didn’t work a lot better than the “trickle down” theory did under Reagan, but at least the attempt was made to raise wages and thereby stimulate consumer purchasing power to pull us out of a recession. In 1939 the build up to WW II began and ended the depression. Manufacturing things here worked.

One of the biggest successes of all government programs was the passage in 1935 of the Social Security Act. To this day, it’s still the single most important piece of social legislation in our It is the one program most responsible for keeping vast numbers of elderly people out of poverty and providing essential services and benefits for the needy and disabled. Those “Liberals” also brought us Unemployment Insurance; Public Housing; and don’t forget the 40 hour week.

Medicare and Medicaid were established in 1965 guaranteeing the elderly and poor health care coverage at affordable, minimal or no cost when they needed it most.

Then the bad news started. Ronald Reagan was elected President in 1980. .

The Reagan administration started a long attack on worker rights and social programs. Reagan brought higher payroll taxes, raised the retirement age, increased Medicare premiums, and cut Medicaid benefits for the poor. This from the smiling lovable Uncle Ronnie. Big increases in military spending, big tax cuts for the rich and big business, cuts for social services, union rights and the philosophy that the national debt didn’t count.

Most social services, except, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, was cut by one-third from 1981 – 1988. Programs for low income earners were hard hit with a 54% cut. Subsidized housing lost over 80%, housing assistance for the elderly 47%, and training and employment services over 68%. Reagan also reduced health and safety protections and weakened federal statutes guaranteeing workers the right to organize and bargain collectively.

Loveable Uncle Ronnie supported the Christian Right’s hate campaign against gays and lesbians by refusing to address the AIDS problem and allowing it to become a global epidemic. Ironically enough he also cut funding that might have found a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

Ronald Reagan did not mention AIDS or do anything to help in the first seven years in office. Both Bush presidents have refused to help with AIDS funding if the wrong kind of birth control was discussed. The religious right was glad to see God punish the unbeliever.

The GHW Bush years followed Reagan harming working people everywhere. We can’t give Bill Clinton a pass, Clinton gave us NAFTA.

Clinton pushed for health care “reform.”, that everyone knew would not work. What we need is a plan as good as the one all members of Congress and the administration get. They cover everyone, irrespective of ability to pay, and for US legislators and the executive it’s gold-plated for life.

Social service cuts were the daily special under George Bush. Funding tax cuts for the rich means you must steal from the poor.

The Republicans blame Unions but the Bush congress brought you:

  • The removal of OSHA workplace ergonomic rules.
  • Cancelled grants to study workplace safety and health
  • Reduced funding for job training; and
  • Bush proposed paying welfare recipients below-minimum wages
  • Wanted to deny Homeland Security employees protection for being a whistle blower
  • Ignored New York rescue workers’ health
  • Cut health care benefits for veterans and billions more cuts for Medicare and Medicaid
  • Tried to cut benefits for veterans again and again.
  • Raised interest rates on student college loans
  • Called providing Health care for the neediest children a step in the wrong direction and threatened a veto.

Let us not forget the Walter Reed Hospital with moldy medical facilities for military personnel.

Where are we now, where are we going?

The laws have been bought. The corporations are in charge. This must change, it has been done before. The Union job with rights and fair pay set the goal for all workers and the Corporations are dedicated to smashing this goal. They want nothing better to aim for except what they choose to give.

What worked before can work again. This is not rocket science. Effective mass organizing is needed to build unity and strength of numbers, show non-union Americans what they have to gain. Show the Union members what they have lost and what they could lose.

It worked; we won an eight hour day. Our wages used to keep up with inflation, some of us still have health care even though it is under constant attack. The corporations have attacked benefits as bad for business and sold this load of garbage calling it steak. The corporations never gave us these benefits we fought for the right to bargain collectively and nothing was given to us because change never comes from the top down.

Organized labor is a mess, with some light showing through with the SEIU and others making small gains in the last two years. Only 7% of private sector workers are unionized. On the average all better paying jobs. Organized labor must push out organized money. Our muscle is unity and the vote. It worked before, it can work now.

How are you doing America?

NAFTA CAFTA, globalization, and more workers than jobs all threaten the American worker. The result is Corporations with low costs and growing profits. Business Week magazine reported “the share of (US) national income going to corporate profits (compared to labor) is hovering around a 50 year high.

Having millions of workers in countries with no labor protection leads to a race to the bottom in corporate run marketplace. In developed nations they’re outsourcing good jobs to lower wage countries and blackmailing workers to do more for less because they’ve got little bargaining power to fight back.

Organized Labor in the US – Up and then the long fall

In 1800s companies became richer and richer and employees wanted a share of the benefits. They turned to unions for help.

Finally in the 1880s, labor was able to strike for better pay and working conditions like the eight hour day.

Political parties helped the unions, not like today where neither Republicans nor Democrats are doing anything to help working Americans.

The American Federation of Labor (AFL) founded by Samuel Gompers in 1886 and would survive even with other unions falling around it. The AFL became the largest union in the first half of the 20th century. The AFLCIO is still the country’s largest federation of unions even after the (SEIU), Teamsters, and more left.

Organized labor faces declining membership and corporate dominance and workers are facing globalization. It has been a painful fall for labor with worker rights under attack since Reagan. In the early part of the 1900s only after suffering firings, killings and threats, the Unions won an eight-hour day, a living wage, and benefits because strong unions went head-to-head with management and won. Now we face corporations pay their politicians by leaving money on the bureau after they have done their business with congress.

The Unions have always been on the weaker side but that was not enough for business. Big business paid for the passage of the Taft-Hartley Labor-Management Relations Act in 1947. The bill was called “slave labor” by Harry Truman who then used it 10 times. Taft-Hartley feeds business by giving the President power to stop strikes by court-ordered injunction for 80 days. The act was claimed to be for National Security when it was actually for corporate profits. National Security is the same claim to deny hundreds of thousands of Federal workers Union protection.

George Bush used TH in 2002 against 10,500 west coast dock workers “locked out” (not striking) by the Pacific Maritime Association representing shipping companies and terminal operators.

In 2001 Bush showed his hate for labor. He used the Railway Labor Act against a threatened strike by mechanics, cleaners and custodians at Northwest Airlines and again against United Airlines’ mechanics in December. He fought for management in 2006 against Northwest’s 8700 flight attendants’ planned job action against the bankrupt airline’s unfair demands for huge wage cuts and increases in hours worked. Even “our friend” Bill Clinton used the Railway Labor Act against American Airline’s pilots and to prevent railroad strikes 13 times.

It has been the steady attack of money buying anti labor laws that has brought down Union membership. The laws weakened or revoked worker protections and lowered workers bargaining power. Taft-Hartley allows stiff penalties for union violations but tiny penalties for companies. It enacted a list of “unfair (union) labor practices” and legalized employer interventions aimed at preventing union organizing campaigns.

There are still no real punishments for corporations that fire Union organizers.

Ronald Reagan started his attack on labor in his first year. In 1981 he fired 11,000 striking PATCO air traffic controllers, imprisoned its leaders, and fined the union millions of dollars. He succeeded in busting the Union. .

After WW II Union membership was up to as much as 35% falling to about 25% and staying steady until the Reagan years. Membership is now about 16% with about 7% in the private sector and about 36% of government workers. Union membership is the lowest in the private sector in 100 years.

George Bush’s support for corporations and attacks on unions is an attempt to give companies complete control of the workplace. Using 9/11 as an excuse, he attacked government unions immediately. He denied 170,000 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) employees civil service protection and the right to collective bargaining.

Why do they hate Unions? Union, organized workers make more money and benefits. A great reason to organize and all the reason the corporations need to fight Unions.

  • Most Union members have employer-paid health care coverage. Many fewer private sector employees have paid coverage and they pay more for their share.
  • over two-thirds of union members have short-term disability insurance compared to about one-third for nonunion workers;
  • Union members get more vacation time and more total paid leave than nonunion workers.

Organizing gives workers power so of course management wants to destroy them. It’s to deny working people their right to organize, earn more and get greater benefits corporations don’t want to provide. The G. Bush National Labor Relations Board ruled 3-2 against registered nurses’ right to union membership if they perform certain minimal supervisory duties.

US law doesn’t give supervisors the right to organize.

Bush ended the Clinton administration’s regulation requiring federal agencies vet companies’ compliance with the law when awarding federal contracts.

Just the way Ronald Reagan busted PATCO, George Bush started out the way he intended to continue. Georgie is a union-hater, and he declared open season on workers and their rights under his administration.

  • stripping workers of their right to unionize;
  • cutting pay raises for 1.8 million federal workers on the pretext of a “national emergency;”
  • denying millions overtime pay;
  • appointing anti-union officials;
  • scheming to weaken (and then end) retirement security by replacing Social Security with risky private accounts managed by Wall Street sharks that so far has gotten nowhere because of public opposition to it;

The failed “immigration reform” legislation was aimed at organized labor in a plan to create a workplace of near slaves having few or no benefits and no security.

The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) – Some Hope for Worker Rights Now Denied

EFCA was introduced to “amend the (pro-labor) National Labor Relations Act that’s been systematically ripped to pieces ever since. Its aim was to “establish an efficient system to enable employees to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to provide for mandatory injunctions for unfair labor practices during organizing efforts, and for other purposes.” Senate Republicans blocked labor’s top legislative priority by preventing the bill’s supporters from getting the 60 votes needed to end debate and bring it to a vote.

For now the bill is dead, but if it ever passes, it will change federal law on worker rights. They’ll henceforth be able to organize by signing cards authorizing union representation, penalize employers violating worker rights to do it, and establish new mediation and arbitration processes for first-contract disputes. It might also end or slow down the firing, demoting, laying off, or suspending without pay of over 20,000 US workers annually because of their union activities.

The US Chamber of Commerce and big business fought against the bill. They oppose any worker rights, and their lobbying paid off. They claimed the bill allowed workers to organize before employers can explain why having a Union is not in their best interest. Could it really be that over and over it proves out that union workers have more rights, higher pay, greater benefits and added job security?

Dick Cheney let business know that George Bush would veto EFCA legislation if it passed.

Right after Labor Day 2007, organized labor is weak after decades of government and business working together to grind down the middle class. The Employee Free Choice Act almost made it, but Senate Republicans killed it.

Labor is struggling to retain a role and improve its leverage. It will be a hard job, but we made this country great doing hard jobs.

Outsourcing

(GATT) in 1948, the ILO (International Trade Organization) in 1946 Then the IMF and now the World Bank.

GATT was followed by the WTO in 1995; one year after NAFTA took became a weapon of mass destruction for jobs.

The WTO is a corporate-friendly cover for agreements designed to do one thing. It’s to help corporations become the new world order by crushing member states’ sovereignty. All the rules must be good for money, not good for people.

The UN’s International Labor Organization’s (ILO) commission issued a condemnation of the damage and hurt world trade rules caused.

Starting unnoticed in the 1950s the exporting of jobs to low-wage countries began. Then the jobs making cars, shoes, clothing, electronics, and toys along with clerical work to India. Call centers, credit cards, and so called customer service followed the higher paying jobs out of the country.

What’s leaving now is big business. They move, and sell us the goods, and with a paid for Congress they don’t pay taxes because they are a foreign company.

The SEIU realized how important the service industry is. Services are now 84% of the economy. Manufacturing is done in countries with little to no labor laws. In South America they are still shooting Union organizers. The few good jobs left are under attack with the right claiming that anyone that has a good job or good benefits has taken it from someone else. Hedge fund managers make sixteen thousand times the average wage and pay 50% of the taxes the regular citizen pays. The average CEO pay is 343 times the average wage. How can they blame Unions?

Unions are no longer strong, and workers that had good pay with good benefits like full health insurance coverage and pensions have lost them to bankruptcies by companies that stole the pension funds and some that return from bankruptcy like the airlines but never have to pay their workers.

Except for the new gains by some unions, like the SEIU, private service sector jobs have suffered lost wages, benefits, job security and worsening working conditions. There are fewer good jobs. Unions are weak, and workers are at the mercy of employers that have bought the law. In September 2007 American workers were reported to be the most productive in the World or the second most depending on how you read the numbers. We work more hours and take less time off than any civilized nation. We are the only civilized nation without guaranteed health care. They don’t hire part time workers at Wal Mart because of a lack of work. It is a design to destroy worker rights and make them a disposable unit.

The jobs at risk as reported by the University of California in 2004 and by Gartner Research predicts as many as 30% of high-tech jobs may be lost to low-wage countries by 2015. In 2006 former Federal Reserve vice-chairman Alan Blinder estimated 28 – 42 million American service sector jobs could be lost to foreign labor.

Once India took low-skill and routine programming jobs. Now the engineering jobs, the banking, pharmaceuticals, and more are leaving. The cycle does not stop. Outsourcing companies that supplied labor in India are now outsourcing it to other countries because the wages have gone up so much.

We are not gaining, we are not staying even.

Adjusted for inflation, the average American worker now earns less than in the mid-1970s with the minimum wage unchanged at $5.15 an hour since 1997 until the 110th Congress raised it over George Bush’s objections. Until the increase, minimum worker pay was at the lowest point relative to average wages since 1949.

One in three jobs in the country pay low wages, $11.11 per hour or less) with few or no benefits like health insurance, pensions or retirement.

The desire of the corporations was to achieve extreme wealth at the top, a dying middle class, and a growing underclass of low-paid workers grateful for any crumbs.

After the 1920s, the nation experienced a growth in the middle class incomes rose due to the New Deal and Great Society programs, strong unions, and a fair tax system for individuals and corporations. Since then the corporations have fought back “Only the little people pay taxes”

Corporate America wants to control labor costs by outsourcing jobs, de-unionizing, hiring temps and part-timers, and removing internal career ladders to boost profits at the expense of people. The only jobs left are dead-end, low-wage jobs with laws that have been paid for by corporations to keep it that way. The goal is to destroy organized labor, because organized labor shows what jobs could be for Americans.

IThe Bush tax cuts for the wealthy only helped the rich and big corporations. In the 1950s, corporations contributed 28% of federal revenues. Then the corporate share of government taxes fell to 21% in the 1960s and 10% and falling since the 1980s. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), 94% of major corporations pay less than 5% in taxes. Many large companies pay no tax. Corporate welfare for billionaires

The share of national income going to wages and salaries is the lowest on record based on data going back to 1929. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) reported wage and salary growth in the current recovery growing at half the average rate for post-recessionary periods since the end of WW II while corporate profits in the current period grew over 50% more than the post-WW II average. It’s the first time on record, corporate profits got a larger share of income growth in a recovery than wages and salaries – 46% to 34%.

Attack the poor and the sick

Most of the States and the Federal Government had some benefits and retirement in place for many of their employees as early as the late 1920s. Even the private sector added some small amounts of health care, pensions, life insurance and sick pay.

The Great Depression changed everything created the atmosphere that allowed the rise of worker rights and benefits. The 1920s anything goes corporate greed and loose corporations without regulation sickened the country.

The recovery from the depression didn’t work a lot better than the “trickle down” theory did under Reagan, but at least the attempt was made to raise wages and to stimulate consumer spending, not to cut taxes to the rich. In 1939 the build up to WW II began and ended the depression.

Social Security, passed in 1935 is still the most important piece of social legislation in our history. It is the one program most responsible for keeping the elderly people out of poverty and providing life saving services and benefits to the needy and disabled. Those “Liberals” also brought us Unemployment Insurance; Public Housing; and don’t forget the 40 hour week.

Medicare and Medicaid were established in 1965 guaranteeing the elderly and poor health care coverage at affordable, minimal or no cost when they needed it most.

Then the bad news started. Ronald Reagan was elected President in 1980. .

The Reagan administration started a long attack on worker rights and social programs. Reagan brought higher payroll taxes, raised the retirement age, increased Medicare premiums, and cut Medicaid benefits for the poor. This from the smiling loveable Uncle Ronnie. Big increases in military spending, big tax cuts for the rich and big business, cuts for social services, union rights and the philosophy that the national debt didn’t count.

Most social services, except, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, was cut by one-third from 1981 – 1988. Programs for low income earners were hard hit with a 54% cut. Subsidized housing lost over 80%, housing assistance for the elderly 47%, and training and employment services over 68%. Reagan also reduced health and safety protections and weakened federal statutes guaranteeing workers the right to organize and bargain collectively.

Ironically enough, some of the funding cuts might have found a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

GHW Bush followed Reagan harming working people everywhere and it was the same under Bill Clinton who called himself a Democrat but never governed like one. Clinton gave us NAFTA.

Clinton pushed for health care “reform.”, that everyone knew would not work. What we need is a plan as good as the one all members of Congress and the administration get. They cover everyone, irrespective of ability to pay, and for US legislators and the executive it’s gold-plated for life.

Social service cuts accelerated dramatically under George Bush who’d eliminate them all given the choice. Funding tax cuts for the rich has to get the money from somewhere and if you are giving to the rich you must steal from the poor.

The Republicans blame Unions but the Bush congress brought you:

  • The removal of OSHA workplace ergonomic rules.
  • Cancelled grants to study workplace safety and health;
  • Reduced funding for job training; and
  • Bush proposed paying welfare recipients below-minimum wages;
  • Wanted to deny Homeland Security employees protection for being a whistleblower;
  • Ignored New York rescue workers’ health;
  • Cut health care benefits for veterans and billions more cuts for Medicare and Medicaid;
  • Raised interest rates on student college loans;

Let us not forget the Walter Reed Hospital with moldy medical facilities for military personnel. Only Bush’s plummeting approval and the new Democratic majority might slow him down.

Where are we now, where are we going?

The laws have been bought. The corporations are in charge. This must change, it has been done before.

What worked before can work again. This is not rocket science. Effective mass organizing is needed to build unity and strength of numbers, show non-union Americans what they have to gain. Show the Union members what they have lost and what they could lose.

It worked; we won an eight hour day. Our wages used to keep up with inflation, some of us still have healthcare even though it is under constant attack. The corporations have attacked benefits as bad for business and sold this load of garbage calling it steak. The corporations never gave us these benefits we fought for the right to bargain collectively and nothing was given to us because change never comes from the top down.

Organized labor is a mess, with some light showing through with the SEIU and others making small gains in the last two years. Only 7% of private sector workers are unionized. On the average all better paying jobs. Organized labor must push out organized money. Our muscle is unity and the vote. It worked before, it can work now.

E.T.I. 2009

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September 6th, 2007 Posted by narsbars | MSEA, MSEASEIU, SEIU, SEIU 1984, SEIU 1989, STATE EMPLOYEES, TECHNORATI, UNIONMAINE, VSEA | no comments

I wish I could write this well

E.T.I. 2009

This is a comment posted by an anonymous reader. I wish I could write this well.
The only editing was the removal of some compliments given to this blog, as this is not about me, it is about the MSEA.

The beauty of an organization like MSEA-SEIU Local 1989 is that it’s statewide and truly member driven. Anyone who wants to get involved can and should today. There are many reasons to do so but to me they all boil down to this: Workers need to stand up for each other if we’re going to have any chance of keeping the American Dream alive for our children. That’s a tall order and as a parent, I certainly want to do my part.

Personally I think it’s exciting to be part of an organization with over 10,000 members. When you think about it, it’s a wonder we can accomplish anything at all given the huge size of our state and the many diverse views and experiences among our members. Yet seemingly against all odds, we can and do accomplish great things — fair treatment at work, quality public services, respect for public workers, a belief that all workers deserve a voice in their wages benefits and working conditions; a belief that everyone should be able to go to the doctor when their sick; and a belief that if you work hard all you life, you should be able to enjoy a decent retirement.

Thinking big and dreaming big and making those dreams happen all require work, hard work, on many levels. Let’s first recognize the hard work of the MSEA-SEIU members who built this organization into what it is over the past 60-plus years. Many of these members are long dead or retired. They sacrificed for us and our children and grandchildren. We wouldn’t have gotten to this point without their hard work for MSEA.

Now it’s our turn to do the same for the next generation. No one ever said it was going to be easy. Many folks have done great work and are still doing great work. It’s time for the folks who haven’t yet stepped to the plate to do so.

Narsbars said, “We have a good Union with a track record of success. If you like it or if you don’t the best way to help or bring change is to participate. Maybe we can only make a phone call to a legislator or sign a petition, but that is participation. If we can’t make time to help then what we have will be taken, what we do will not be respected, who we are will not matter”.


E.T.I. 2009

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September 2nd, 2007 Posted by narsbars | MSEA, MSEASEIU, SEIU, SEIU 1984, SEIU 1989, STATE EMPLOYEES, TECHNORATI, UNIONMAINE, VSEA | no comments