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Committee Votes State Employees Get Cuts


This came in late last night. One party in the legislature could not stop eating once they had stolen our lunch. The ability to bypass bargaining and pass laws to punish went to their heads.

Our Union leadership spent every minute at the legislature and the very worst was avoided. Please Give Credit to Ginette Rivard MSEASEIU Vice President and Tim Belcher, Executive Director for making sure we found out the facts instead of rumors as soon as possible and for the endless hours she has spent working for us.

The straight party line vote will tell you who we have to work for no matter how bad this was, picture a Republican Majority.

The Appropriations Committee just voted on our health insurance, (Thursday Night) the last item affecting our members in the budget .

The health insurance vote was the first party line vote in this budget cycle from this committee. This is the proposal: FY 10: employees earning less than $30,000 pay 5% of the premium, those earning above $30,000 pay 10%,
effective 10/1/09.
FY11: Everyone pays 10%, but as soon as a wellness incentive plan can be implemented, everyone gets option of earning back a rebate equal to the amount of the premium contribution.

The Republican proposal would have added a third tier over $90,000 that would pay 15%, but would only let employees earn back 1/2 of the premium contribution.

Add to this the 5% across the board cut in pay for all employees, effective 10/1/09. We have urged them to allow us to bargain over the 5% cut in pay, so we could get shut down days where possible. They did not accept that proposal.

They also disagreed with our request to leave health insurance intact. On that issue, they went even further than the Governor, but were somewhat less harsh than the State and Local Government Committee, which recommended an immediate 10% cut.

We had also urged them to find a way to be equitable among all employees, to avoid layoffs, and to preserve step increases.

The final package is responsive to those needs, including no additional layoffs. spreading the pain among all employees, and eliminating the merit freeze in both years.

We will generate a cost comparison that will help explain how these plans developed. Finally, there is no question that our political allies stood up for state workers in crafting a difficult compromise.

Senator Mitchell and Speaker Pingree in particular worked hard to resist intense pressure on the Appropriations Committee concerning health insurance.

Sen. Mitchell worked with Frank Johnson to develop the idea of allowing state workers to earn their way back to full premium.

While no one liked the idea of unpaid holidays, that proposal opened the way to spread the cost of these cuts to all employees, not just our members.

Her ideas reduced the impact on thousands of employees, particularly the lowest paid. This is a very tough moment in our union’s history, but the truth is that many political leaders came to the defense of state workers. Without their help, this package would have been much worse.

Editor: Picture a Republican Majority

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May 15th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Ginette Rivard, MSEA-SEIU, Maine State Employees, Tim Belcher, health care cuts, pay cuts | one comment

1 Comment

  1. You lovers of Fairshare never thought of this when your buddy Evil Ethan Strimling saved MSEAs’ and Baldacci’s by not having to terminate hundreds of employees persuant to the contract you negotiated!

    Just think of the savings if that contract had been followed!

    Comment by Anonymous | May 16, 2009

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