He made the trains run on time and controlled the Unions

image - October 23, 2003

Fascism is recognized to have first been officially developed by Benito Mussolini, who came to power in Italy in 1922. To sum up fascism in one word would be to say "anti-liberalism".

...............Socialism and Democracy. Political doctrines pass; peoples remain. It is to be expected that this century may be that of authority, a century of the "Right," a Fascist century."

Image Source Page: http://marxistleninist.wordpress.com/2010/07/10/glenn-beck-champions-u-s-pro-nazi-text/

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Bangor Daily attacks working families in Maine. One State Worker Fights Back With the Truth

There is a lot going on this week. I planned to put up Chellie Pingree's responses to reader questions, but it would be unfair with all the attention on the National Elections. We need to be able to focus on our own elections. This weekend I will be posting Chellie's answers with some editorial comments.

More Attacks on State Workers.
Radio ads, articles in the KJ, now the Bangor Daily News.
I want to thank on of my co workers for spotting the BDN story and sending her answer to the BDN, every one of her representatives and to UnionMaine. I hope the MSEA web site gets this information out to the membership also. Please keep reading for one of the best letters I have ever read from one of our members. If this upsets you, go to the right hand column, scroll down and find your legislator(s). Email them and ask if they will be looking for your votes.

Cost of state benefits

EDITOR: Italics and bold added. If this article upsets you with its portrayal of State Workers as lazy, greedy, targets click the BDN Staff link and email them to let them know that you are Mainers and you expected to be able to trust your government.

BDN Staff

As state government wrestles over the next 18 months with a revenue shortfall projected at $95 million, it’s time to consider the cost of state employee benefits.

As is the case in the private sector, the cost of providing health insurance benefits to state employees has grown in recent years. Yet state employees have not been asked to shoulder the burden of those increasing costs. Shifting a portion of the increases to employees, in the form of higher premiums and co-payments, could yield savings that ultimately allow the state to preserve jobs.

Currently, the state pays the entire cost of health, dental and life insurance premiums for its employees. Few would suggest that state government move away from providing health insurance to employees and their dependents. Collectively, Maine benefits with more of its residents having access to affordable health insurance, and therefore access to timely and preventive health care.

..........state workers paying higher co-payments for physician visits and prescriptions, and meeting higher deductibles, seems fair. .................

Compensation packages for 12,236 of the 13,428 state employees come through collective bargaining agreements. Negotiating those contracts with a goal of reducing a benefit..........can be done — .

........consider the city of Bangor’s health insurance benefits. ......the least expensive health insurance plan offered to single employees includes a $1,000 deductible, and prescription co-payment of $10, $25 or $40. .............with the city picking up......80 percent, of the cost of the insurance.

Yet another......savings for the state could come in indexing health insurance premiums based on salary. Why should someone making $70,000 a year pay the same amount as someone making $35,000?

.......generous benefit packages, .......are out of balance with the private sector and costing taxpayers.

Here is one of the an eloquent and honest answer to these attacks. Only answers like these, and emails to the legislature will preserves the benefits you have already paid for.

Dear BDN:

Once again, as in years past, pot-shots are being taken at state employees as a way to balance the state budget. According to one such ad on the radio daily, it praises the governor for his work in cutting $38,000, 000 without raising taxes, while bemoaning the fact that unless he gets rid of ‘too many state employees and their benefits, which are better than most’, he probably be forced to raise taxes on everyone in the state.

Well, let me say this about that. Number one, state employees are taxpayers as well, so if taxes must be raised, we will be paying the increases as well. Number two, when this ad talks about our healthcare benefits being ‘better than most’ – please be aware that these have been paid for by our years of service to this state, via contract negotiations, etc. Many of us decided to work for the state primarily because we looked down the road and anticipated that healthcare would be vital to our survival.

As it is, when I inquired about retirement, I was told by Social Security that at age 65, if I retired, I would be required to have Medicare as my primary coverage and that my state coverage would act as a back-up (and to me that meant my prescription coverage would be intact). I would have to pay the Medicare Part A, which currently stands at $96.40 a month and has a $135.00 deductible, plus paying 20% of most of the other ‘services’ covered. This is where I was ‘assuming’ my state healthcare coverage would pick up the slack. Now, I’m under the impression that anyone over 65 and on Medicare will be dropped from company/state based policies and that would mean taking out supplemental insurance to pay prescription costs.

Another article that has appeared regarding getting rid of state workers, make me wonder, if they can violate Union contracts and get rid of us, does that mean that we can strike to attempt to retain our benefits and jobs? Currently, that is part of the Union agreement with the state in that we are not permitted to strike, no matter what type of contract is negotiated, whether shut-down days, furlough days, no increases in cost-of-living, etc., are handed down..

I would suggest that if it is so necessary to reduce the workforce, some decent retirement incentives would certainly get rid of a lot of employees with 20+ years service. Some of these individuals have the years of service in, but are younger than the 59 years or 62 years of age wherein they could retire without a 6% penalty per year because they are younger than 59 or 62 (this age being dependent upon when an employee was hired into state service).


Nancy W. Worcester

Thank you Nancy Worcester

You will notice that the writer ignores the fact that many employees did work for years to pay for their benefits. Paid in advance. They want to forget all the years of salaries lower than the private sector that paid for those benefits. I want the writer to tell me he supports cutting the benefits for State troopers and to tell them to retire at 62 instead of 55. I want the writer to cancel the warranty on his car because Chevy is having it tough. It doesn't matter that he paid for the warranty, paid for the car, Chevy is having it tough. Go give back the warranty.

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  1. We can't strike. We have getting raises less than the rate of inflation for more than ten years. This is just a race to the bottom. If no one has any benefits, taxes won't go down. Doesn't a promise made to employees year after year mean anything?

  2. This was sent to UnionMaine from Nan Worcester

    January 9, 2008

    Dear State Employees:

    If you haven’t been following the news/listening to the radio or reading the newspapers, you probably aren’t aware that, once again, the state we are so proud to work for, is out to get us, again.

    Should you read the editorial in yesterday’s Bangor Daily News, or the one several weeks prior in the Kennebec Journal, listen to an ad currently playing on the radio, you might not be aware that the benefits you have worked for over the years are in danger of being taken away, to once again, balance the budget. Your health benefits that you counted upon at retirement? Well, it seems some folks seem to think, as they quote, “They are better than most others in Maine”. Isn’t that what we’ve been working for all these years? Isn’t that why we’ve done without cost-of-living increases and accepted furlough and shut-down days, to protect this very necessary benefit as we reached retirement age? But now, since the Feds have decided that once you reach 65 and are eligible for Medicare the companies/state you worked so long for would no longer need to pay your health insurance, since Medicare would take care of it. An article in the New York Times, published January 5, 2008, stated, “There is no pain-free answer to the burden of rising health care costs. The least painful solution is to let Medicare carry the burden for those 65 and older while freeing employers to focus on younger retirees, who need help the most.

    OK…excuse me? If they are able to retire before age 65, one might assume that they pre-planned for their retirement and health care issues. I sure as heck wouldn’t retire before if I didn’t plan to have adequate health care, would you?

    I am of retirement age. I contacted Social Security last year and was told that I would be required to pay for Medicare A, which is currently at $96.40 per month ($1156.80 annually), carries a $135.00 deductible and I would be responsible to pay 20% of most of the covered “services”. At that time, I felt, although I didn’t feel it was completely fair, if the state health insurance was going to pick up the difference, as I was assured they would, at least my prescription coverage would be intact. Now I’m not sure.

    Additionally, because I worked in the private sector, prior to joining state government, I had paid in all my quarters to Social Security. I have since been informed that because of the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Offset Provision (GPO), I will not be entitled to claim my full pension – that approximately 60% of that will be withheld because I will be receiving a state pension. Say what? Come on…I worked for that benefit, I earned it. I’ve worked for my state pension, I’ve earned THAT. This is NOT double-dipping. Had I been told 21 years ago that if I went to work for the state, I could not claim my full Social Security benefits, or that my health care benefits would not be there when I retired, I’m inclined to think I’d not have hired on; I would have stayed in the private sector.

    I’m extremely tired of the new philosophy that says, ‘OK, we can contract with you, back in 1987 but when we get to 2008, we don’t think we can afford what we agreed to, we can take it away and you’re not supposed to question? As a friend pointed out, it’s a little like buying a new car with a warranty and the automaker says afterward…’oh well, we’re having difficulties, your car is no longer has a warranty’. It seems to be a pervasive attitude of the current administration (Federal) and to some degree, the state that “what’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is mine”…well, they get enough of mine as it is and as I’m approaching retirement, I don’t want to give up what little is left.

    Talk to your Union Stewards or MSEA folks…ask them to stand strong for us. We have no way to fight any more of these “take-aways” unless we band together. Talk to your friends who are teachers, our law enforcement, ask them to stand up and make their feelings known.

    Nan Worcester

    Nan, you make some great points.
    Tom Maher


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