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/

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Fair and Balanced

This is a very Pro-Union site so I thought I should give some time to the other side. Since Fox news or AMG writers don’t usually visit here I thought it only fair if I were to try to present their side of the picture as I imagine they might put it.

Q. Do I have to let a union representative into my house?
A. No. A union representative has no more right to enter your house than any other paid salesperson. But if you don’t they are likely to steal your pets and burn your house down after nailing your doors and windows shut. If you can, let them in and try to sneak off and call 1-800-Anne Coulter for help.

Q. Do I have to sign a union authorization card?
A. No. You don’t have to sign a card. Under the law you have the right not to join a union but you will need to be prepared for the Union thugs that will threaten or coerce you into joining. They will put viruses on your PC, poison your dog, and give your credit card number out on the web.

Q. What difference does it make if I sign a union authorization card?
A. You should know that Homeland Security is notified of everyone signing a card as a potential terrorist.
If you are such a wimp and an unpatriotic weenie that you sign a card, it increases the chances that the union will be able to file a petition for an election. If that should happen, you should expect even more pressure from the union to vote for it if an election is held. If this is allowed it could result in a democratic election and management will no longer be able to take care of you in the way they feel you deserve.

Q. Union organizers say that everyone else is joining the union. Why shouldn’t I join too?
A. It is a common organizing tactic of unions to claim that “nearly everyone has signed” a union membership application card and only a few more signatures would make it 100 percent. Actually, no one usually signs up, it is a proven fact that the Unions forge almost 100% of all cards turned in and only liberal judges enforcing outmoded ideas of free speech have let this practice continue. Many employees sign to keep from being terrorized by the organizers. This is why the law does not punish employer forced training sessions and permits the firing of so called Union supporters as disruptive elements for your protection.

Union representatives are “paid salespersons” who threaten, coerce, pressure, bother and needle workers. Management is the voice of reason simply trying to inform workers of their right to be left alone. This is America and if you do good work you will be well paid, you don't need a Union.

Q. Will it cost me anything to belong to this union?
A. In all likelihood, yes. Unions collect monthly dues, and besides that there are a lot of other charges such as payoffs to keep your job, initiation fees, assessments and contributions to organizations and causes a union may sponsor or support. Unions also fine and suspend members who violate any of the union’s many by-laws and rules forbidding any “disloyalty” to the union. Voting Republican is considered legitimate grounds to fine workers 100% of their pay for six months.

Q. What can the union fine its members for?
A. Pretty much anything they want. Depending on the union’s internal rules. Most union constitutions and by-laws provide that the union can fine you for almost anything – for not attending union meetings, for trying to come into work if there is a strike, or for talking back to an officer of the union.

Q. Is it true that a union may require its members to pay more than dues each month?
A. Yes. The union may require a member to contribute to the international union, as well as to pay charges for political contributions, informational clinics, building funds, private swimming pools for the leadership, and other special project funds. If a member refuses to pay these special assessments, your union membership may be suspended or you may be fined by the union or even expelled by the union.

You may be forced to take paid vacations or paid sick leave under the claim that those benefits will somehow help you. Since the benefits come directly out of profits, taking any of these benefits will only help to lower CEO morale and you certainly don’t want to be working for an outfit that can not keep the CEO happy.

Unions claim that the federal Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 guarantees union members the right to vote by secret ballot on local dues and assessments. Union members also have rights to free speech, due process in any disciplinary procedures and to sue their unions in court. While true in fact, since so many Union companies failed during the seven years (of the Bush Labor Dept.) , it won’t matter anyway.

Even though SEIU bylaws guarantee all members the right “to receive a fair and open hearing in accordance with the provisions of these bylaws on any charge brought by him/her or against him/her.” and do not require political contributions (which are voluntary) and specifically allow member votes before raising dues or assessments, it does not matter because the SEIU bosses have all been trained in secret hypnotic techniques to turn members into puppets.

Weighing the facts on where the real wages are is easy even if you use the SEIU figures.

While it is true that Union employees earn up to 30% more in wages and benefits you risk being called a Union puppet and you will lose the right to let your employer make all of the decisions about your working conditions and pay. Joining a Union will mean that you may need to think for yourself and we both know you can’t do that. We in management don’t want you to risk all of that for a possible 30% increase in pay and benefits. A well run company wants to keep some of the employees happy and we know we won’t be happy with a Union


There is a Bargaining summit coming up on May 10. Do you think things should be done differently? Have you ever asked why something was done? Show up and make yourself heard.
During the bargaining for the 2007-2009 contract your bargaining team found the bargaining survey gave our teams more input and information than had ever been received before. This site and your Union are both collecting ideas now. Your ideas count!

Click Here to take survey
Click HERE to see how other members are voting.


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Thursday, March 27, 2008

How human resources is crippling IT

The IT Skills Shortage is a real and present danger.

IT executives say they can’t find workers with the skills they need.

The reality is that both IT executives and the human resources department are partners in creating the skills shortage they using for an excuse for outsourcing.

To hire or to “find” skilled IT employees they only need to look as far as their own IT department, and then make investments in IT training.

Why won’t the State invest in training?

The answer is that OIT does not drive the hiring or retention of OIT employees. HR runs the show and is only interested in the bottom line and retaining total control of the employees regardless of the effect on the State's IT infrastructure.

In Maine HR drives the IT strategy and is causing a serious threat to the recruitment, retention and morale of employees. An HR department that provides career development would be able to provide needed IT staffing levels and lower turnover rates. Our HR department is more interested in getting more from each employee for less money.

HR does not know how to write a job description for IT or how to decide who the best manager for an IT department is. Office managers from other departments and Customer service managers do not make good IT managers.

HR has no respect for the highest level of technical skill.

Unless you are a manager your career reaches an end rather quickly. In order to go up the career ladder you need to become management and perhaps leave behind the job you were trained to do.

In many cases HR will promote people to management who have never worked in the IT area that they manage, they are hiring and promoting the wrong people.

State policy is silent on how many hours I am required to work. The running joke in OIT is that “My boss gives me the ability to flex my time” “he doesn’t care when I work my 60 hours.

Why so many hours? Because OIT has become a 24x7 operation and there are no longer enough people to do the job while HR refuses to compensate the existing employees for their time. A policy to limit hours or to provide incentive for excessive hours should be in place and is a necessity when staffing does not meet operational needs.

They complain because we are “reactive”.

The people that use the services of OIT have always wanted it done yesterday, yet HR treats the need for 24x7 staffing, constant maintenance, repairs, and responding to troubles in the same way as projects. They say we should have planned ahead for the situations. The lack of staffing is blamed on OIT.

Then there is the failure of customers to listen when skilled IT professionals try to describe the problems and offer solutions.

When senior level IT people try to tell you why something will not work, listen to them. Nothing is more frustrating to an IT professional than to be told to do something when they know it is the wrong way to solve a problem or issue, and to have their input ignored.

There will always be differences of opinion, but differences that are listened to and discussed provide an employee with a sense of worth and the employer with a valuable check and balance system to control projects. Ignoring reasoning and experience will lead to project development with bad design and missing requirements. The result will be “do overs” and wasted time because identification and evaluation of project need were not done to begin with.

The attitude of many employers destroys morale as IT employees feel they are regarded as disposable. The State of Maine has not created a valid career path or provided training for members of their IT department, blaming cost. The real cost of replacing good employees must be considered. Technical skills, problem solving skills, and experience with the State Government are very hard to come by.

In order to resolve the shortage training should be increased for all for employees. New job descriptions should be created with the aim of integration with a clearly definable career ladder with appropriate pay scales in order to provide incentive for highly skilled technicians that may not want to make the move to management.

IT changes every six months and failure to learn these new technologies will cause OIT to become dysfunctional. Employees that can move to another job will leave and new employees won’t want to join an outfit where they will stay in a rut and never advance in skills.

It costs too much.

IT professionals have skill sets that promote the ability to pick up the latest stuff on the fly, and quickly. To counter the cost argument look at how much it costs to replace workers. Add in the hours of all the people involved in recruiting, HR writing applications and job descriptions, recruiting interviews. Add the cost of bringing the new hire up to speed at a low productivity rate for up to six months. After considering all of this try to tell me that training and developing a fair pay scale for existing workers is too expensive -- that it's cheaper to replace them or just do without the skills

As long as HR refuses to admit that IT skills and hours worked must be paid for and continues to force CIOs and their immediate staff to limit the definition of IT skills to generic descriptions written by HR that are already twenty years out of date, descriptions that by their very nature limit the IT career path, instead of recognizing that what makes an IT employee valuable is smarts and experience the situation will get worse.

Don't Forget!


There is a Bargaining summit coming up on May 10. Do you think things should be done differently? Have you ever asked why something was done? Show up and make yourself heard.
During the bargaining for the 2007-2009 contract your bargaining team found the bargaining survey gave our teams more input and information than had ever been received before. This site and your Union are both collecting ideas now. Your ideas count!

Click Here to take survey

Click HERE to see how other members are voting.

Enter your Email

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

National SEIU convention in June heating up

Maine’s delegation is going to be voting on issues that we have not faced in Maine. Issues of National SEIU control over Locals versus local control.

The delegates should expect to see the very serious fight going on as the supporters of centralized union power and the supporters for bottom up Unionization control by workers erupt into a firestorm that Maine has never seen.

The results of this convention could change the direction of the American labor movement.

The issues are too involved for a short article but in the most extreme cases the National SEIU has claimed the right to appoint local Union officers and merge locals with no elections.

California, Missouri and Illinois, are three states where the voices are loudest.
Tony Condra, secretary-treasurer of Local 2000 in St. Louis said "One thing I think the top leadership forgot is the members are the CEOs, not us,”) meaning not the SEIU employees.)

Andy Stern's supporters say that the current state of the American labor movement shows that new approaches are needed.

February 2008 Sal Rosselli, president of SEIU's United Healthcare Workers West resigned as a member of the union's executive board to protest Stern's actions. He continues in his post as president of United Healthcare Workers–West, a 150,000 member SEIU branch representing California hospital, nursing home, and home-care workers. Sal Rosselli is the leading voice of dissent to Andy Stern’s positions on centralized control and new approaches to “partnerships” with management.

One of Andy Stern’s supporters puts it this way “What Sal (Rosselli) is really upset about is that there was a difference of opinion in California. You know, Sal’s view didn’t always carry the day, and then when other people act legitimately as a result of a collective decision-making process, but sometimes not the way Sal would like to see, you know, we get this kind of conduct. So I think it’s just categorically untrue. It’s unfortunate. And Andy deserves better, and our union deserves better from someone like Sal, who is himself an insider at the highest levels of SEIU.

A showdown is expected when the union holds its convention in June in Puerto Rico, with a fight looming over whether to allow members to directly elect their leaders and to have more say in mergers.

Rosselli's attempt to portray Andy Stern as a leader unwilling to listen to the members is probably going nowhere and so far SEIU leadership has brushed off the complaints as unfounded and just plain wrong.

Regardless of the results of any voting at the convention in June just the fact that this argument is so widespread means Maine members must bring back back the facts. We should be ready to let other brothers and sisters know that electing your own officers is the way life should be.

Don't Forget!


During the bargaining for the 2007-2009 contract your bargaining team found the bargaining survey gave our teams more input and information than had ever been received before. This site and your Union are both collecting ideas now. Your ideas count!

Click Here to take survey

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

State Employee Bargaining Survey


As a member of the last contract bargaining team the survey that year gave our teams more input and information than had ever been received before. This site and your Union are both collecting ideas now. Your ideas count!

Click Here to take survey

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Lies, Lies, and a roadmap

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

Waiting for State Employees to become involved.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Sir, Madam, the train is here. Please step on to the track.

Click on the cartoon for full size.

I hate to be right. In this post last year, I posed what the budget could look like by now. Attacks on DHHS services by DHHS management. DHHS has proposed cutting services for the poorest Mainers, breaking contracts with Foster and adoptive parents. DHHS has gone beyond that, they have told blatant lies labeling employees to be cut as administrators when those positions are the face to face providers of services to the homeless and the mentally ill.

On Friday night Bruce Hodsdon sent an email to all members and here is an excerpt

"A minority of the Legislature’s Health & Human Services Committee has just issued a report demanding that the state shift 10 percent of the cost of individual health insurance premiums onto state workers. The Legislature could act on this proposal today or anytime this weekend, so please:

-- Call your legislators immediately! Tell them that we negotiated our most recent contracts in good faith, and that unilaterally shifting costs of the individual health insurance premiums onto state workers undermines the collective bargaining process. Tell them that the State Employee Health Commission, through efficiencies, has saved $20 million that will now be used to help close the budget gap. Tell them enough is enough!

My concern is that no matter what seems to be coming down the tunnel State Employees don't act as if they are the Union and expect their elected members to do all the work. If you saw the papers this past weekend with the pictures of an overflowing Hall of Flags where hundreds of protesters showed up to let the legislature know they were watching and they would hold them accountable.

We need to fill those halls with purple. If we are not willing to show our concern over broken promises and lies then no one will be willing to stand up for us. I hope the papers can print those pictures.

Take the 2008 Bargaining Survey. What do you want to see on the table?

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Unions are good for the economy

We’re circling the drain, going faster and faster until the American economy drains away. This failure is due to the rapid widening inequality between profits and payout to those who do the work. A recession is grinning like a fleshless skull because consumers have no more money to buy goods and services. Median hourly wages, adjusted for inflation, are no higher than what they were three decades ago and in many cases have actually fallen. Unlike the past, most of what is being earned in America is going to the richest 5 percent. They don’t need to spend; they have what they need so the money piles up as power and does not run our economy.

There's no easy fix to stop one way flow to the rich. Bringing back our middle class by making better schools and more affordable colleges available to students from poor and lower-middle class communities is part of the answer. We must stop rewarding outsourcing with tax breaks. The oil companies do not need our charity to the tune of fifteen billion dollars a year.

Raising the minimum income before any taxes are taken, while subjecting all income to the same Social Security deduction is another piece of the solution. Financing these programs is not a problem; a higher marginal tax rate on the rich would provide the funds without harming the rich. A higher tax rate can be achieved immediately by canceling the tax breaks put in by Bush.

A rarely talked about part of the solution is a return to strong labor unions. As shown by the success of the SEIU after organizing low-paid workers in local service occupations, such as retail workers, janitors, hotel and restaurant employees, and hospital workers. After organizing these groups have gained the bargaining leverage needed to get better wages. They gained a place at the table to suggest better ways of delivering services, improving productivity enough to cover the higher pay.

The past seven years have been difficult for workers attempting to organize themselves into unions. The Bush administration has handed out no more than wrist slaps for the illegal techniques. Laws have been passed to prevent recouping back pay. If the worker wins after years, the worst penalty to the company is that they must rehire and give back pay that was lost. Not benefits and no compensation for any suffering.

Up until the 1950’s most employers obeyed the law allowing workers to organize. In the 1950s, the NLRB found only one in 20 union elections tainted by illegal firings. As employers feel the increasing pressure to increase profit at any cost, the first attempt is always to cut wages. Union-busting became common and has grown to a multi billion dollar industry. In the early 1990s illegal firings happened in one quarter union elections. In 2008 polls show most workers would organize a union if they could, the process is so complicated that it's rare they even get to choose.

Management and labor often have different views. A Union can be helpful to management by providing the security the employee needs to share their insights. In hospitals such as Eastern Maine Medical Center such sharing would be good for hospital patients, after all who knows more about how people are being treated, and how treatment can be improved, than the nurses and medical assistants on the floor? Yet management continually fights against giving a Union a place at the table.

Workers in the service industries and hospitals are among the lowest-paid and hardest-working people in America but the NLRB will never get them a fair hearing because it's so broken. The NLRB is broken because corporate America has wanted it broken and George Bush has tried to give them everything they asked for. That is why workers in Maine like so many other workers across America want a fairer process for union elections.

The "Employee Fair Choice Act," which passed the House of Representatives, will let workers have a union if a majority wants one. Pure Democracy in action.

The American economy is rolling over not only because we are spending twelve billion dollars a month that could have provided alternative energy and put us on the road to energy independence. It is in trouble because lower and middle-income workers no longer have the buying power they need to keep it going. The gap between rich and poor is wider than it's been in over 70 years. Unions could help reverse this trend.

But even strong Union households voted for Bush for two elections. For the false claim of patriotism we voted for the very politicians that wanted to destroy the American worker.

We face serious problems due to the Bush implementation of substantial tax cuts, which have led to a recession. We are facing a massive drop off in consumer spending, and looking at layoffs. Layoffs that will only deepen the problems by putting more people on the overstrained safety net.

Even the comedians and the “left wing radicals” have fallen far short when predicting the economic disaster Bush created.

We must understand that the current situation is not just a few separated items. It is not just the tax breaks for the rich. It is not just the war. It is the result of complete incompetence and a total disregard for the American public to further the aims of only the top one tenth of one percent of the richest members of society.

While in the U.S. the talk shows still blame the public for buying houses “they knew they could not afford” the BBC is showing the real victims of the sub prime mortgage disaster, homeless tent cities in California made up not of illegal aliens but of former middle class home owners. Did you even know we have tent cities in the U.S.A.? For eight years our government has purposely ignored the rampant greed and B.S. excuses by corporate lenders that have lied to their clients. .

The economy is not working for working people and hasn't been for a longtime. Since 2001 we have 1.7 million more people without jobs, 4.1 million more people in poverty, millions more food stamp recipients. Credit card debt is killing us all as we pay our mortgage or our fuel bill with Visa. .

Bush is bragging about a short-term stimulus, while the government is planning on putting two hundred billion dollars into the banks with no promises of help to those losing their homes. It is still the trickle down theory. Save the rich and everything will work out.

I echo many of the suggestions made by the AFL-CIO for immediate action and long term solutions.

Short term:

  • Extend unemployment benefits. (Bush doesn't want this because the true state of the economy would become instantly obvious).
  • Increase food stamp benefits.
  • Provide tax rebates targeted to middle-income and lower-income taxpayers.
  • Kill the tax Bush tax cuts to the top 1%.
  • Accelerate ready-to-go public investment in school renovations and bridge repair.
  • End the war in Iraq and put all the efforts of our science and industry into energy independence.
  • Put a moratorium on foreclosures for six months and work to solve the problem.

Even the banks would support an immediate moratorium on foreclosures on sub prime mortgages. They don’t want to take back houses they can’t sell, but they are being forced to show how tough they are by investors that have never missed a meal in their lives. Throw the bums out is still the mantra of the mortgage industry.

We must fix our broken labor laws to let workers who want to form a union, form Unions with no interference and we must punish employers that engage in illegal Union busting.


Click Here to take survey

Thank you to everyone who took time to fill out the 2008 bargaining survey. In just over a week, many responses have been completed. The emails I have received show just how serious a disaster we face in the coming year

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Saturday, March 8, 2008

Union writers needed.

This letter from a co-worker says what so many State Employees feel. I never publish a name unless permission is granted in the email. This is the type of involvement we need. So many of us feel there is little we can do, but that is wrong. We vote and we can let legislators know we vote.
If you have any good stories about waste in State government or you just want to have your ideas heard, write in and let everybody know how you feel. We know how State Government works. We know where money could be cut. The employee suggestion program with the whopping $100.00 reward is a joke. The suggestion was made to the legislature that they stop having separate departments of their own to handle services already provided to other agencies and cut overhead. They laughed.

I guess a lot of us are wondering why the focus is on the state workers in general instead of the ones who are pulling down $50 and up per hour. We have more "managers" than Carter has little liver pills and they make more than we do..... a lot more. A few years ago, when I was working for DHS, I made a suggestion to Mr. Concannon about how DHS could be pulling in a bit of revenue........he didn't want to be bothered to get off his duff and even explore the possibility.....everyone else liked the idea. It is a total joke to ask state workers for suggestions.......so, people are going to lose their jobs, etc. because the folks on the hill have no intention of giving up anything. We are expected to do that......there, I have vented a bit. Thank you.


The last proposal I saw was the suggestion that all employees with dependent care should have their payments increased to cover the shortage and protect health care for single employees. That suggestion came from a Union Member that probably has no idea where our benefits came from and most likely can't spell Union.

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Sunday, March 2, 2008

2008 Bargaining Survey

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

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