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/

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Who Do You Want on Your Jury?

State Employees continue to be judged in the press, no on the bottom line. When a politician wants cover, they just fire a few or a lot of State Employees regardless of the real or imagined savings.

Now back to the east coast and what is happening with Unions and State governments in New England.

In New Hampshire SEIU Local 1984 has been in discussion with Gov. John H. Lynch about the 2010-2011 budget.

Gov. Lynch has proposed laying off 250-300 State employees.

SEA in N.H. and MSEA in Maine are trying to show the serious impact these proposals would have on their states.They are both trying to work with, not against the State to find savings.

The State Employees in New Hampshire have committed to working with the Governor and Legislature to seek ways to reduce costs. I hope their Governor and their legislature are not also among the hearing challenged when it comes to working with State employees rather than against them.

New Hampshire estimates the State deficit at $500 million to $1 billion without drastic cuts.

This is where it feels like looking in a mirror. Cut funds for the sick and needy while making some contractors rich.

New Hampshire would:

  • Lay off 250-300 State employees; the largest cuts coming in the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Corrections

  • Cut funding for nearly 400 vacant positions, always a budget tactic and maybe the only sign of government pre-planning (having vacancies to cut) that you can find.
  • Closing the Tobey School. The Tobey School, similar to the soon to be closed Levinson CenterMaine, is an alternative day and residential school for students identified as educationally disabled. Almost exactly like Maine there will be an estimated loss of services for a population of children at risk and a loss of an estimated 50 State jobs.
  • Close the Lakes Region Correctional Facility, causing the loss of 90-95 positions.
  • Unlike Maine, New Hampshire retirees don’t have constitutional protection for their retirees health care and the State wants to change the health insurance premiums for State retirees and shift all retirees onto the active State health plan (estimated savings $10 million), and an estimated $10 million increase for retirees.
  • In what many Union employees might see as a long overdue move the State proposes to offer a different health policy for what we call Confidential State employees, with the same offer made to Union employees.
  • In a move that spells Déjà vu to Mainers there is a proposal to sell the Liquor Commission warehouse, lease the four State Welcome Centers and reorganize and close many liquor stores statewide. The governor in a good move also proposed building new liquor stores in expanding market areas.
  • Close eight District Courts

Facing reality, the Governor also proposed some revenue increases:

  • Increase the tobacco tax by 35 cents
  • Increase the room and meals tax by three-quarters of one percent
  • Increase the cost of registering each vehicle by $10
  • Taxing gambling winnings over $600. They are way behind Maine us there.
  • Changing the toll collection system. Another echo from Maine.

The N.H. Governor didn’t propose any increases to the gasoline tax or broad-based sales or income taxes, but like Governor Baldacci’s proposal to “tax only State Employees” by increasing their cost for health care the proposals place a tax burden onto select groups of public servants.

Some of the N.H. and Maine’s "rainy day funds" are being used to balance the current budgets. These funds were built up in good economic times to be used to help keep us afloat in bad economic times. The State workforce is seen by some as being “built up” and a target to support the State in bad times also. Unfortunately, the Maine State workforce is at the lowest head count in over twenty five years. State Employees as usual are expected to pay a price higher than others in the name of publicity, not fiscal responsibility.

All Union members share many of the same concerns:

  • Bumping rights were one of the most important Union protections ever put into a contract. Those rights come to the fore in tough economic times. We must fight to protect and improve bumping rights. A layoff is one of the most devastating events a person faces. An employee facing a layoff must be given that guarantees management can not cherry pick people to lay off.

  • When looking for savings state employees in Maine have identified possibly hundreds of unreviewed positions filled by private contractors. Many of these outside contractors and consultants cost the State far more than the average State worker's salary. The Governor, agencies, and the legislature must provide better oversight of the thousands of contracts, vendors and services the State pays for that could be done more efficiently and cost-effectively by State workers.

  • We must not forget our brothers and sisters losing their jobs on February 28. No bumping rights after ten, twenty or thirty years of service. They were targeted and had no where to go. Turning the Levinson center over to private hands will not save the State any money and will severely impact if not harm, those dependent on Levinson to care for the State's most at risk children. Do you hire a baby sitter on “the lowest bid” approach?

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