UnionMaine

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Success or Failure?


What is happening around the Unions and around the nation? Are Unions succeeding or failing?

California has a very active membership that attends meetings, goes to rallies, and supports their Union loudly and persistently with the legislature and in the press. They have just finished negotiations during the worst economy California has seen in over seventy years. What did they lose and what did they hold on to? Is this a crystal ball for what is happening in Maine or could we do better or worse?

California SEIU 1000, the states largest employee union negotiated for nine months during the worst economic times in over seventy years. SEIU Local 1000 and the State reached a tentative agreement Saturday night covers 95,000 state employees until June 30, 2010.

The TA will be sent to the union’s elected State Bargaining Advisory Council; which serves the same purpose as MSEA-SEIU’s Contract Action Team where if passed it will be put to a vote of all SEIU 1000 members. The agreement must also be approved by the state Legislature and signed by the governor.

SEIU 1000 went in to negotiations during bad times that only worsened while they talked. CaliforniaCalifornia like Maine State employees provide critical services that must be maintained to keep citizens safe and healthy. Like Maine the governator, no matter how powerful just can’t say there are no emergencies on specific days. Unlike California Maine has always forced State employees when taking furloughs to rotate them in an attempt to hide from the public the impact on State services. California had the courage even on the State side to move to close offices for furlough days, arguably saving far more money.

When negotiations concluded, there were sacrifices on both sides. The State made concessions they did not want to make and so did the Union.

Major provisions of the Tentative Agreement include: now has a forty billion dollar hole to fill and the governor intended to fill it with State employees. In

  1. Reducing the governor’s demand for two unpaid furlough days per month to eight hours monthly. Two days could have forced employees working ten hour days to take ten or twenty hours off a month.
  2. The tentative agreement improved the state’s layoff procedures and guarantees layoffs only when departments are eliminated or when facilities or offices are closed.
  3. Two holidays, Lincoln’s Birthday and Columbus Day were traded for two personal holidays, which are similar to vacation days. State offices will be open for normal business and employees who work on those days will no longer receive overtime pay.
  4. Overtime costs will also be reduced under this agreement; an employee who uses a sick day cannot receive overtime in the same week until they have worked a full 40 hours. Vacation time continues to count towards the forty hours requirement.
  5. Unlike Maine, SEIU 1000 negotiates health care and in a successful fight against a money grab, the state agreed with Local 1000’s proposal to freeze employee contributions for health insurance at 2008 levels though 2010.
  6. The tentative agreement will increase career enhancement options by creating a Joint Labor-Management Trust to continuing education and professional development for Local 1000-represented employees.


Unlike California we are now in talks with the State after the stimulus bill has passed. What effect the money coming to Maine will have is impossible to say at this time, but it can only have a positive influence.
Tune in tomorrow for a close up look at N.H. They compromised on Health Care two years ago. Was it a success?



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February 18th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Executive Branch Bargaining, MSEA, MSEA Dues, MSEA ELECTIONS, MSEA contract, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, Maine State Employees, Maine Turnpike Authority, SEIU 1989, msea maine | no comments

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