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, May 31, 2009

January 2010 They will be back

Maine State Employees are already facing cuts of as much as fifteen percent over the next two years.

The legislature says the cuts will expire on June 30, 2011. I don't believe them and I don't know anyone who does.

So far not a penny of the wasteful contracting in the State has been cut.
Jobs that can be done by State Employees go to private firms at up to twice the cost because the politicians "can't increase head count".

Tens of thousands of square feet of empty State owned buildings will be either heated for no reason or torn down to ensure that landlords can keep getting rich.
California has led the way for years
The future of Maine is shown by the present in California. Well before the State of Maine started talking about shut down days and take backs California was already demanding furloughs and pay freezes.
Now Arnold is coming back for an additional 5% pay cut for all State employees and massive cuts to services for the poorest that will in turn cause thousands of layoffs for State Employees.

That is bad for CA., and we can expect the same or worse in Maine in January 2010
unless we find the waste and stop it now.

The Maine legislature is already talking about how to gut the pension system and you know it won't be only for new employees. Thanks for thirty years.......Get out!

The good is that California State Employees know how to fight back and how to work with the State at the same time. They have been fighting the outsourcing of State jobs to more expensive contractors. They have just won their first major victory.

State Personnel Board backs Local 1000 on outsourcing

Ruling ousts contractor; state workers to take over security at SF Civic Center

Backing a challenge by Local 1000, the State Personnel Board (SPB) has disapproved an expensive outsourcing contract for private security guards – costing up to $10 million – at the San Francisco Civic Center.

The ruling forces the Department of General Services (In Maine the Bureau of General Services) to bring these security jobs into state civil service, where state workers will take on those duties.

The SPB executive officer backed Local 1000, finding that the state failed to prove a legal justification for using private security guards - rather that state workers.

Two months, later the full SPB board sided with Local 1000. The SPB’s board’s order gives the DGS 120 days to fill the positions with state employees.
Over the past three years Local 1000 attorneys have challenged more than 120 contracts, winning more than 80 percent of the cases.

Is this the time for us to start spending our MSEA dues to challenge the State? This is the kind of campaign that the public would support.

The Civic Center Plaza ruling may boost a larger security service contract challenge that is expected to be heard by the SPB this summer. If Local 1000 wins that case, state workers could be filling about 900 security guard positions all over California that are now be held by higher-paid contractors.

Local 1000 research and independent studies have shown that outside contractors cost twice as much as state employees who already do the same work.

Enter your Email sign up for email updates when new posts go out.

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

State Bargaining Update

The State Bargaining team needs to get out one message. Please pass it on.
There have been NO concessions at the table. Anything that has been done has been done by the legislature, no talks, no terms, no respect.

The executive Branch team members are returning to bargain on Thursday and Friday. We will not roll over, we have not been given any respect and it seems as if the State thinks it is all over since the budget has passed.

It is not all about money. There is a lot to talk about and we are going to keep up the conversation.

P.S. About the K.J. story about 150 State Employees at the capitol. They must have sent a one handed three fingered capuchin monkey to do the count. There were over three hundred of your members there. You could not hear anything but the chant of "We will remember in November!"

Many of the legislators simply sneaked out by back stairs, the rest hung their heads in shame except for a few gloating members of the Gopasaur party.

Stay tuned, they are coming back, not in two years, but in January.

Enter your Email

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Thursday, May 21, 2009

NUHW fight with SEIU still going strong

Cross Posted from the NUHW web site. The NUHW is the new Union breaking away from the SEIU in California.
The NUHW feels that SEIU has denied Union representation to the members and given up on good contracts in favor of growing the Union at all costs.

SEIU says that all health care professionals would be better served by being in one Union.
So far in nearly every election NUHW has won overwhelming support of the employees even if the National Labor Relations Board has ruled against the new Union in most cases, stating that a new Union must wait until near the end of any existing contract.

Healthcare workers join NUHW in first election

Caregivers at Doctors Medical Center overwhelmingly reject SEIU in first election since almost 100,000 petitioned to join the National Union of Healthcare workers

San Pablo, Calif.—In an overwhelming victory for California healthcare workers’ movement to take back their union, nearly 300 caregivers at Doctors Medical Center won an election to join the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) and reject the SEIU. Workers mailed secret ballots to California’s Public Employment Relations Board, which certified today that more than 83 percent chose NUHW. The count was 158 for NUHW, 24 for SEIU, and 7 for No Union.

“We’re so excited to be in control of our own union again,” said Duka Ristic, an ultrasonographer at the hospital for eight years. “NUHW is led by the local healthcare workers and leaders we know and trust, who helped us raise standards for our patients and keep our community’s hospital open.”

After national SEIU officials staged a hostile takeover of California’s healthcare union in January, nearly 100,000 caregivers petitioned to quit the scandal-plagued SEIU and form their own independent union.

SEIU officials responded by filing hundreds of frivolous charges with state and federal labor boards to delay elections at more than 360 facilities. So-called “blocking charges” are a tactic commonly used by employers and union-busting consultants to stall elections by taking advantage of the weakness of federal labor law. SEIU officials used the delay to wage a months-long campaign to harass and intimidate union activists.

While the National Labor Relations Board has so far failed to protect workers’ right to vote in fair and timely elections, California’s Public Employment Relations Board has begun scheduling elections for public service healthcare workers. Next month, workers at Hazel Hawkins Hospital in Hollister as well as Fresno County homecare workers will have their chance to vote.

“SEIU’s attacks have only made us stronger and more committed than ever to joining a union that is on our side,” Ristic said. “Our union, NUHW, is a democratic union by and for healthcare workers. This a great day for us.”

Does this have anything to do with Maine? You be the judge.

Enter your Email and sign up. Get notified of new posts.

Want to comment? Click on the comments link below. Be the fist to comment.

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


I have nothing on my own tonight. I received a comment from another blogger, one with some real talent thanking me for saying something nice.
So in total ingratitude I am going to use another snippet from one of his posts to leave you hanging with no where to go but follow the link.

Thag for President

William K. Wolfrum Chronicles

Enter your Email

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Thank Your Legislator.

And for 19 more days for the next two years.

Thanks Ron, Maybe these signs should be put up on every shut down day.

Enter your Email

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Monday, May 18, 2009

State Employees Fund Budget Again

Ten shut down days each year, around holidays, a two year freeze on merit raises and longevity, and a hit on health care (go to MSEA site for details after 11:30 pm) Tuesday night.

there will be three levels of cuts initially. Bad, worse and even worse, with the possibility of moving the wellness portion up to the middle of 2010, maybe earlier.

Good No 5% pay cut.

Good Maybe someone will notice what we do when they can't register a car or process paperwork.

Summary: They took between five and ten point 4 million additional dollars out of our hides.

Belcher and Colonel Poulin both spoke up for their members but the venom dripping from the committee burned holes in my earphones from 90 miles away.

Like bullies anywhere they showed resentment that we tried to defend ourselves and that we tried to be part of the process.

Best Quotes: "They didn't want to lose 5% and this is what they got."

Rep: Flood: "I thought the 5% was fair, but I will vote for this anyway."

Rep Martin: "This is better than anything I have seen so far!"

Almost to a man and a woman they showed disgust for State Employees who asked to be represented and as much as said "this is what you get for talking back".

The ones that didn't blame us or damn us turned their backs. I only hope it was in shame.

Tom Farkas, who does the Stater for us and handles our web page has been staying up to report on this sick joke and will have all the details.

UPDATE: From the MSEA website.

The Appropriations Committee at 10:20 PM Monday, May 18, eliminated the across the board 5% pay cut on all State workers.

In its place, the Committee imposed 20 shutdown days (10 per fiscal year) on Executive Branch and Legislative Branch workers, exempting so-called "Tier 1" workers such as those in institutions, law enforcement and public safety.

For workers in all three branches of state government, the Committee voted to freeze merit increases and longevity increases for two years. The Committee allowed for comparable savings to be identified through contract negotiations.

On health insurance, the Committee imposed tiered individual premiums as follows:
Beginning October 1, 2009, those earning $30,000 or less will pay no premium, those earning $30,001 to $79,999 will pay 5 percent premiums; and those earning $80,000 and up will pay 10 percent premiums.

Beginning July 1, 2010, those earning $30,000 or less will pay 5 percent premiums, those earning $30,001 to $79,999 will pay 10 percent premiums; and those earning $80,000 and up will pay 15 percent premiums.

The Committee voted to establish a health credit premium program for implementation on July 1, 2010, where workers could earn back some or all of their individual premiums through healthy behavior.

Under this program, to be developed by the State Employee Health Commission, workers earning $30,000 or less could earn their way back to fully paid premiums, those earning $30,001 to $79,999 could earn their way back to up to 95 percent paid premiums, and those earning $80,000 and up could earn their way back to up to 92.5 percent paid premiums.

These cuts affecting state workers are now part of the overall two-year state budget that will go to the House and Senate for voting.

Enter your Email and Get Email updates when new posts are up.

Preview Powered by FeedBlitz

Cutting State Employees and Raising taxes is called Savings

I am older that I want to admit but tonight I am being educated. Listening to the appropriations committee discussing both raising taxes for all Mainers and cutting pay and benefits for all Mainers. Both scenarios are called "acheiving savings".

Representative Millet wants to discuss the "savingss" achieved by going "above and beyond" what the governor proposed for cuts to State employees.

Not matching the income tax reductions to match the Federal reductions are also called savings.

Who is saving? Maine citizens? No. State Employees? No. Quote of the night "I have no problem cutting salaries of those making $150K". Make you a deal, give me $150K and I will pay twenty percent of my medical and take a ten percent cut in pay..........and say thank you.

The same committee has no problem cutting the salaries of those making under 30K by as much as five to ten percent each year. No problems at all.

Listening to Rep. Martin I can understand the argument against term limits. Nothing slides by, no amendment is too complex. He asks "How does it affect Mainers?"

7:57 Pm State Employees piece Not done. Dinner Break. They will be back with an amendment after dinner break.

Enter your Email

Preview Powered by FeedBlitz

Saturday, May 16, 2009

If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem

I am on the negotiations team for the next contract for the Executive branch of State Government.
For two years many of us have been asking members to email legislators, put on a silly looking purple shirt and show up at the legislature for hearings.

Now that the legislature is acting like a mugger that expects to hear "Thank you, please come again" some of the less aware Union members think that paying dues is like hiring a mechanic to tune your car.

You don't stay with the mechanic, you will pay for the service, you don't need to read repair manuals, you don't have to know how it works only that you paid for the service.

A Union does not work that way, a Union only gets strength from members helping members and showing a united front. I include two snippets of emails I have received to show the difference between one dues paying member and another.

The problem may be that those of us who are involved just have not worked hard enough to educate or co workers and our neighbors about the good Unions can do.
See who you agree with. The member below is blaming the Union staff, maybe the board of directors, and definitely the negotiations team.

Before you get upset at this member, remember they have done more than most, they wrote, they let someone know how they felt. This is a beginning. I have followed it up with my response.

If you are one of those members and you want to know more about your Union or you can tell us what you think we should do, come on in, the water is cold.

I want to know what SEIU has been doing for us, when does the contract end with them?

What cuts will MSEA be taking, will there be shut down days, will there be a pay cut or better yet will you cut out dues by the same % as we are cut?

Shut down days give people the opportunity to work in order to make up the pay loss in 40 hours. 5% pay cut requires people to work above and beyond the 40 hours in order to make up the difference. This also gives you the opportunity to nego(tiate) a reduce(d) work week in the future.

When you give up 5% the next time you nego(tiate) you are getting back to where you were years ago.

My answer:


The Union has done everything we can. Remember when you say “the Union”, you are the Union. How many meetings have you been to? How many times have you answered an email blast and taken vacation time to go to he State House?

If you have been active, thank you. If you are active, how many people do you know that think that dues are the only thing needed to have a Union?

The situation we are in now has two root causes, the economy and member apathy. We can’t do a lot about the economy but if the hearings had always had fifty or even a hundred members wearing purple while hundreds or even thousands continued to send emails and phone calls to their legislators, we would not be where we are now.

The State wanted to cut paid holidays and that idea seems to be dead for the moment. Let me ask you honestly, how bad do you think it would have been with either no Union or a Republican majority?

I am a steward, I don’t get paid. I am on the negotiations team and I don’t get paid and I don’t expect any pats on the back.

I am involved because when I looked around to find out who was going to step forward, everyone else took a step back.

The Union motto is Solidarity, with it we can achieve nearly anything. Without it “the Union” will be weakened and will not be able to do what you want. Become involved, bring a friend to a chapter meeting, make a contribution to PASER for political action, become a steward or run for Union office and you can change what you don’t like.

Whether you do any of that or not, I will keep trying to make things better for you and so will all the other members who are struggling to do what is right.

Thomas Maher

After that incident I got this email and it gives a hint of what we need to do in the next two years. We need to do the same thing a Republican, a Democrat, or any elective body does....Hold them accountable for their mistakes.

This is quite a letter:

Dear MSEA/SEIU Local 1989 Board of Directors and PASER (Political Action Committee of MSEA):

I oppose all the cuts to State Employees in the budget for FYE-2010-2011. I’m really upset that legislators that sought our endorsement have now turned on us. As a member of PASER and having reviewed each endorsement, these legislators specifically told us in their returned questionnaires that they were opposed to cost shifting of our Health Insurance and now it appears they are united in sticking it to us any way they can.

I suffered through shutdown days, furlough days and reduced work weeks through the 1990’s under than Governor’s McKernan and King to just over $10,000 in forced take backs in my pay. We were given these shutdown days, furlough days and reduced workweeks to offset a COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) we received through bargaining. This time not only are we not going to get a COLA in bargaining but it appears the Governor and Legislator will be reducing our pay and take home through forcing us to pay contributions to our Health Insurance, unpaid holidays/shutdown days, and a freeze on merits.

My pension was changed after 9+ years of service. I had planned on retiring this year under the old promised plan where I estimated my pension (which I have contributed to for 25 years) would have been $23,169 the first year plus received a COLA each year after that. If I were to retire now my pension after 25 years of dedicated service would be $12,650 the first year and stay that same amount until if reached age 62 or for me 9 more years.(This is close to a reduction for me of almost 75 % from what I was promised when I started work back in 1984.)

Since 1991, or 18 years ago, we have had 10 years with no COLA (Cost of Living) raise, 6 years with a COLA of 2% or less. In the mean time we were told COLA’s could not be provided as the cost of insuring us was costing too much and we accepted this to keep our health insurance intact. We‘ve seen State surpluses in the State budget every year only to have it be put into a rainy day fund that at one point exceeded $150 million while we went without raises.

We’ve been told no money was available for raises while Governor’s funded their pet projects (Computers for Children and Dirigo Health Insurance Program for the uninsured.) Because of what has happened to us since 1991 we are severely underpaid from what others are paid for in other nearby State and the private sector here in Maine. A quick check of what State Employees are paid in Vermont and New Hampshire that do the same job as I do here in this State is a salary of $20,000 less and closer to $30,000 less if you look at RI, MA and CT. I don’t mind being paid the lowest in New England but should it be 40 % less? I say no.

Under this Governor we have seen people that qualify for MaineCare almost double, while we’re given up plenty. We know people on MaineCare pay no deductables and are not mandated to pay a co-pay for their healthcare. There is no doubt this is a tax on one group and one group alone, us State Employees. I pay taxes like everyone else. My property taxes that go up every year have COLA raises for town employees and teachers. Aren’t they public employees? Their health Insurance benefits where I live are just like ours on what their employer picks up 100 % cost of employees.

We’ve saved the State hundreds of million of dollars by self insuring our Health Insurance Program through Employee Health and Benefits being subjected to increasing co-pays for prescriptions and office visits. We pay deductibles and 40 % coverage for our dependents. Through all this we were able to build up a $30 million surplus which the Legislature stole last year to balance the budget. Currently the cuts they are asking us to come up with to balance the FYE 2010/2011 budget is around $28 million dollars which could have been paid for if they had left the surplus alone in the State Employee Insurance Program. We asked the Legislature to let the State Employee Health Commission to find ways to save money as they have done in the past but for some reason that is not an option to them this year.

No one is talking about raising additional revenues to cope with the current shortfall. Other States are doing it. Our Legislature has said they heard loud and clear the message voters sent last year when they collected enough signatures to force a referendum on proposed increase in soda and liquor taxes. They said no because the additional taxes on these items was going to be used to fund the Dirigo Health Insurance Plan, a plan most people think is/was a failed and costly attempt to insure the uninsured.

There are taxes that can be raised in this State that would be born on the backs of Visitors which voters would not object to as this is a different situation than Dirigo. This is about serious cutbacks to services the public wants and need.

We endorsed and help elect 17 Senators and 59 House Representatives which are getting a CC to this e-mail. Enough is enough. I recommend we ask that they vote individually on the following budget proposals that will affect our pay outside the whole big budget issue so we know where they stand for future endorsements. This should be separate votes on cost shifting of our health insurance, forcing unpaid state shutdown days/unpaid vacations days, freeze on merits and reductions in our pay. I could not find the e-mail addresses of Sen. Nancy Sullivan, Sen. Justin Alfond, Sen. Seth Goodall and Sen. Elizabeth Schneider on the State e-mail system to include the e-mail to them. Apparently they don’t want to hear from people.

I’m sorry that I thought we could trust the Legislators to the promises they made in order to get our endorsement. I feel like I’ve let everyone down that trusted me to endorse the right candidates. I apologize to my brothers and sisters who counted on me.

Steven R. Keaten

PASER Committee

Steve, No apologies needed, I know how hard you work for us and the economy and faithless politicians are not your fault. We asked to be allowed to show them the waste and fraud in State Government and they refused.....and refused again..........and again.

Enter your Email

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Friday, May 15, 2009

A letter to Senator Diamond. State Employees are Mainers too

Scott Austin is a 20 year State Employee and a member of the MSEASEIU board of directors. If you have something to tell the Senator, click on the link at the bottom and send him your thoughts. Please remember to be polite no matter how you feel as yelling and rude comments only make us look ignorant and do not get sympathy.

Scott Austin
Senate Chair Diamond, House Chair Cain, Members of the Joint Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs; I'm Scott Austin, a twenty year state employee at the Department of Environmental Protection and a member of the MSEA-SEIU Board of Directors.

I understand the magnitude of the crisis we are all in and the very unpalatable choices you are being charged to make. I don't envy you and I know you are trying to do your best to minimize the pain while not excessively burdening any one group. It must be gut-wrenching.

State employees realize that we must do our part in this crisis; and we are willing to sacrifice to be part of the solution. (Emphasis added)

But we would like a voice in that solution. We have as an organization communicated that to all of you since the Governor's announcement on May 1st. That view is universal through our ranks.

Up until last night, it seemed that there would be a spirit of cooperation amongst the affected parties to choose our "poison" as it has been expressed. There is support at the worksites I represent for the Governor's proposal as well as Libby Mitchell's proposal. The common theme being loss of salary for time off with the final package being negotiated by the affected parties to meet your need for booking savings with our desire for input and ideas to achieve Maine's needs and goals is acceptable to State workers.

Unfortunately, that spirit did not survive your deliberations late last night. The door was slammed shut. All state employees woke up today to learn that their pay would be slashed 5% and there would be nothing in exchange, including input. And all this while some in the legislature are salivating over how much more they can extract from the health insurance premiums of the dedicated workers that serve the citizens of Maine.
Collective bargaining was respected.....until last night.

What you did last night and may be continuing to do as I type is sowing seeds that will reap you the lowest state employee morale in Maine history. Is that the legacy you wish for this legislative session?

I close by apologizing for any of my fellow state employees that may have left you disrespectful messages. I have heard that may have happened and I'm sorry if you received that type of message. MSEA always stresses that when communicating to you folks we can be open and frank, but always respectful to you who serve.
I know these are difficult times, but we really should broaden our perspectives, be creative and work together to get out of this mess.

Cheers! (I'm trying to stay positive)
Scott Austin
Environmental Specialist III Maine Department of Environmental Protection
MSEA-SEIU Board of Directors

EDITOR: Click the link below to send the Senator your thoughts.


Enter your Email and get notices of new posts
Your email is never given to anyone for any purpose.

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

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.

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

Enter your Email

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Ginette Rivard at Appropriations Live

meta name="Originator" content="Microsoft Word 11">

Ginette Rivard is reporting live at 9:16 pm Thursday night at the appropriations hearings. It is early but Ginette says so far "2 proposals in play. John Martin versus Pat Flood" Details to follow.

Editor, the plans were 10% in the first year and 10% in the second year with a chance to earn back 10% with a wellness program. 10% in yr 1 and 10% in yr 2, earn back 5% 15% for all

According to Ginette "Things have changed" Rosen's motion defeated. 5 for those earning under 30,000, 10 for those earning 30 to 90, 15 over 90. First 2 groups go to 10 in second year.

Only half incentive.


Martin motion for 5 for under 30,000 and 10 for all others in year 1 and all at 10 in year 2 with full incentive as soon as Health Comm can pull it off. Vote along party lines thus a divided report.

Ginette: 10:35 pm

They just moved to reconsider.

Ginette, keep those Blackberry batteries running. I will continue this as soon as I hear something from Ginette.

Enter your Email

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Live Blogging from the Appropriations committee

'They are looking for cuts. Commissioner Lowe says the Holiday take away is not fair to all and will cost money. The shut down days may not work. Several members are pushing for an across the board pay cut but let employees negotiate the savings.

Across the board cut keeps coming up. "Every State employee should be treated the same"
Default position suggested is a percentage cut default position and let us negotiate for the last 18 months of the contract. They want a sliding scale so the more you make the larger the cut you take.

That is not bargaining, that is still mandating. Our team is here, and two members of the negotiations committe are here today and there were several last night.
They are still talking about a 6 month fall back position with ongoing negotiations. Rep Nutting: Won't the Unions have trouble negotiating this? We are still getting strong support from the Dems and some from the Repubs to let us negotiate. The default they like is the progressive cuts. Make more, lose more which is the opposite of how we have ever bargained.

A dollar amount will be put on the table, That includes everything is the total amount the Gov. asked the employees to bear so they still want the same money plus cut the health care.

Rep. Kane brings up the fact that they are asking us for the whole amount and then add the health cuts. The mood seems to be swinging in favor of the State setting across the board sliding scale pay cuts for six months while the Republicans continue to demand health care cuts. Tim Belcher to committee: We appreciate the work Senator Mitchell put in and this is moving closer to where we want to be. We like the Wellness program if you are goitg to do something to us. We have asked for a chance to be part of the solution.

Zack from AFSCME
Matthews I share the comments of Mr. Belcher and thank the committee for trying to find an answer. Our members are dedicated and will respect the process. Finding equity is the best way to do this. Our members want to be involved, they understand the need to do the budget by July 1 and we can help find the answser. We can leave jails without gaurds, mental health patients without staff. I have talked to our members and they are looking for the savings you need.

Colonel Poulin: for Law Enforcement. He appears to be supporting the across the board cut and the chance to negotiate. We are getting hounded by our members "What is going on" We need to make it equitable. Other ideas could pit member against member. We look forward to the opportunity to negotiate. Maybe the Bargaining units and the various Unions can work together. Col. Poulin says no one should be excluded, no commissioner, no manager, no one. Committee: How do you break up the pay scale so higher paid employees take a larger hit?

Rep. Martin.....A percentage is a percentage, no tier is needed. At last a guy with a clue.

Push back from the R side, they want tiers. Rep. Nutting: We can't set the parameters of how they negotiate, we don't want to be involved. Give them a figure, let them negotiate.

Committee: Is this a move for an across the board cut? Almost unanimous. Rep Nutting is trying to get back to including the longevity cuts and other cuts. They are breaking and will be back at about 1:00 None of this is direct quotes, I can't type that fast.

Enter your Email Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

State Employees are Calling Libby Mitchell

Libby Mitchell has been a friend of labor and her district has a LOT of State Employees. If you call or email remember that she thought she was doing the right thing for all State Employees with her package. Be polite and clear when you contact her.

From the Senator's website

Whether I am home, at work, or presiding over the Maine Senate, I always welcome your opinion. It is my pledge to listen to your thoughts and concerns, ideas and positions, and hopes and aspirations as we work together for a better Maine. Please feel free to contact me if I may be of any assistance to you or your family. I am best reached at the Senate President’s Office at (207) 287-1500 or by email.

"Libby" has been getting more emails and calls than she can believe. Senator Mitchell did not anticipate the outcry from State Employees over the package of cuts proposed. Cuts in health care, cuts in merit raises, cuts, cuts, cuts. The final straw was the suggested take away of nearly all holidays for the next two years. Employees know that a benefit once gone may never be replaced. "but they will come back, in two years" In this case "Trust me, I work for the government" has a very hollow ring. I am not ready to trust a future legislature and a future governor. There are no temporary cuts State Employees have been sending emails to me at NarsBars@UnionMaine.Org

The emails have been 100% for State Employees chipping in to help in this economy but they have been 100% against this final insult.

All of my emails have said that State employees will take shut down days that cost the same, but they will not accept this ripping away of a negotiated benefit with no chance to talk. All we have asked is to be included in the process, to let us negotiate the impact even if we only have days, but the legislature is using a chain saw not a scalpel.

The appropriations committee is meeting today, Wednesday, to propose even more cuts. There doesn't seem to be any end to the pain a State Employee can be hit with.

Elizabeth (Libby) H. Mitchell was unanimously elected as Maine’s 113th Senate President on December 3, 2008. She is the first woman in America to serve as both the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House. Senator Mitchell represents Senate District 24, which includes Augusta, China, Oakland, Sidney and Vassalboro.

Enter your Email

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Voice of Cockroaches in the morning.

Recently a WVOM talk show host inferred that all State employees are cockroaches when ranting about names of State Employees being published. He isn't concerned that the information can be used by former abusers to find their victims. He does not care who gets hurt. It is still illegal in many places for employees to tell each other how much they make if their private sector employer forbids it, but women should be open to their abusers in his pursuit of an audience as long as they are State employees.

Rick, call a cockroach when a burglar is in your home, call a cockroach when you want to make sure your food is safe in a local market. Call a Cockroach when you want to make sure your children are going to a real doctor. You know what Rick? When you call them they will come, they will do their duty to you and the public. They will treat you with respect.

Maybe after they answer the 911 call, or provide the vaccine, and you and your family are safe, when they turn to help the next person, if they are tired, if they aren't looking, you can step on one.

In honor of a Rush Limbaugh wannabe We have a talk show mascot.

Enter your Email

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Bargaining Updates Bargaining team and Contract Action Team meet to make tough decisions.

AUGUSTA - Members of MSEA-SEIU The State's largest union met Saturday to debate a State proposal for benefit cuts that would mean thousands of dollars out of employee's pockets for the next two years and possibly forever.

The State legislator says the cuts in benefits, that amount to 24 unpaid days in two years and up to $1200 or more in health care cuts are necessary to balance the budget.
A merit raise freeze will cost extra hundreds to thousands of dollars to employees over the next two years. This will make five of eight years with no pay raises and two years with large pay cuts.

There were a lot of upset members of the crowd Saturday. One long time member said "We offered to tell the State where the waste was in State government and they refused. They have refused to come to the table and listen".

They are passing laws and refusing to talk.
State employees know these are hard times and they are willing to chip in, but the State is afraid that the knowledge of the wasteful spending of State government would only be brought to light if they were willing to work with us. Many representatives have decided that as far as State Employees go "There will be blood" they have decided that they are going for the talk show vote instead of the truth.

Saturday's meeting started at 8:30 and went until late in the afternoon with members staying to tell their negotiators how they wanted them to vote and what was important to their families.

What has been put in front of these members is a joke. This is not negotiations, this is blackmail.
The legislative blackmail calls for the equivalent of a 4.7 percent wage cut and a freeze on merit raises for one year while at the same time steeply increasing health care costs.

None of these options have been passed into law yet, but the message was clear. "Take it, because if you don't we will hurt you even more".

There are so many cutbacks included in various bills in the legislature that if they all passed the only good job in the State would be a State representative.

The best proposal floated would still have multiple painful cuts, but would put two rank and file State employees on a new board to help find waste in the State.

I can just see the business representatives faces when the true cost of their services is put up against the almost always lower cost of State Employees doing the same work.

Cutting Merit Raises is irresponsible and the current policies that allow the most experienced workers to be laid off while keeping new hires to cut cost is both cruel and wasteful.

The no lay off promise is coming from the same Governor that promised no shut downs, no furloughs. I think the State will start laying off employees as soon as the next contract is signed. First they will fund the positions, then they will cut them in order to fund pet projects.

They did it the last time things were this bad and there is no reason they won't do it again.
It's ugly, we are trying to keep our jobs, and our lives, and the legislature has bypassed the bargaining process.

Union leaders have explained the pros and cons of all of the options but are waiting for the membership to tell them how to act. Our leadership works for us and that is how it should be.

Will the State want more blood if we don't bend our knees and kiss the ring?

There is no "crystal ball," but everyone I know is taking the threat seriously.
The State wants millions and the Executive Branch has been told they will carry most of the concessions. Like many States across the country, Maine is facing huge deficits, no Union member thinks that they deserve more than the public, yet they don't feel they should take cuts that are far out of proportion to what others are facing.

The Turnpike Authority just received a 10% plus raise with no health care cuts. The State "raised taxes" by raising tolls to fund a fair contract but a temporary one cent raise in the sales tax has completely rejected.

It is likely that many branches of State government may see little or no impact. The publicity is what they want and we are the source.

Tax revenue has fallen, a $500,000,000.00 hole in the budget doesn't even seem to get a rise of of stunned Mainers any longer. If it is no time for a tax increase then it is no time to increase taxes on State Employees far out of proportion to any other group.

I for one would volunteer to pay a one cent sales tax on everything I buy if they would only leave me at status quo, but the mob is howling, they want to spray the cockroaches.

Enter your Email
Sign up for alerts when new posts are up.

Preview Powered by FeedBlitz

EFCA on the move again.

Arlen Specter may be the key to passing the EFCA in the same way he was an intestinal blockage the last time it came across his desk as a Republican.

Arlen Specter, the freshman Democrat has realized he can't get elected unless the nearly 1,000,000 Union workers in his state see him supporting the EFCA.

Specter is working with Diane Feinstein to create a compromise bill that will still get him elected. Pennsylvania's Unions have the votes and the will to make or break Arlen Specter and both he and the Democrats know it.

He can't win the next Pennsylvania Democratic primary without Union votes, and the message has been clear "vote for the EFCA or lose your seat".

Some "moderate" Democrats like Tom Harkin know they won't be able to claim they don't have the votes to pass the EFCA. They can't hide behind the Republicans any longer. Tom Harkin has been leading an effort to write a compromise so the party's voters, (including the unions) don't think they were lied to. No EFCA and they will stay home when Specter and other Democrats need their help in 2010 elections.

The Feinstein compromise replaces the original card-check provision, which allows workers give signed cards to a Union organizer and arranges for them to be counted by the NLRB thus providing the majority sign up and providing the secret election at the same time. This would still prevent companies from terrorizing workers for months or even years to prevent unionization.

As I understand it employees would be given the cards and they would be mailed to the NLRB, the same as absentee ballots are used in regular elections. The individual could take it home and mail it in," Feinstein said. The same EFCA rules would apply
If a majority of all employees mailed ballot to the National Labor Relations Board, and voted YES for the Union, the NLRB would recognize the union.
Tom Harkin in CYA mode says, the Feinstein idea will protect the secret ballot, so votes can be cast in private, which kills the complaints about no secret ballot. At least it would kill the complaints if the GOPasaurs were sane.
The GOPasaur, artwork by the DailyKos, irrelevancy courtesy of the Republican party.

The right has always hated the arbitration clause while Unions see some forced answer necessary to prevent companies refusing to ever reach a contract.

Long time labor advocate, Democrat Arlen Specter supports "last best offer" arbitration. Last best offer arbitration forces both sides to negotiate and if no agreement can be reached a (usually) three person panel is put in place consisting of one labor representative, one from management and one neutral party chosen with mutual agreement. The panel has the right to mandate a contract based on the good of the company and the good of the employees. Neither Unions or Management like the idea of giving up any say but Unions feel this may be needed to reach a first contract.

The AFL-CIO has said it is ready to listen to that proposal.
Unions have fought for the pure EFCA bill and will be understandably disappointed but they have a long history of negotiations unlike Wal-Mart and know that you never get it all. If these changes mean getting something passed that has not been gutted Unions will probably get behind the compromise.

Enter your Email
Sign up for email updates.

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Saturday, May 2, 2009

A Union at Wal-Mart? If not now, when?

Miami Wal-Mart maybe Unionized?

From the Miami Herald:

Workers at a North Miami Beach Wal-Mart Supercenter are hoping to make their store one of the first Wal-Marts in the United States to unionize.

So far, workers say they have gathered signed pro-union cards from 150 of the store’s 476 employees. Under federal labor law, that’s just about enough for union supporters to demand a vote on unionization by all rank-and-file workers at the store.

Of course, this is Walmart we’re talking about here so the battle is not won yet:

But workers at the North Miami Beach store may have a long road ahead of them. They almost certainly will need to collect signed cards from a lot more than the 30 percent minimum required by law. That’s because Wal-Mart could ask federal labor officials to throw out some of the cards for various reasons.

Even if the National Labor Relations Board orders an election, companies typically try to delay as long as possible. Meanwhile, the company can order workers to attend anti-union meetings and watch anti-union videos on company time, while the unions may only drum up support among workers during breaks and off hours.

Pro-union workers say the company is harassing them, demanding to know the views of individual employees, and pressuring them to identify union supporters. Wal-Mart says it doesn’t engage in such practices, which would violate federal labor law.

But one of the reasons this time may be different is that more than a few Wal-Mart workers are willing to go public with their complaints. That’s a sign that Wal-Mart is losing its iron grip on its employees even as they need their jobs more than ever. Here are two brave soles quoted in the same article:

But union supporter Cheryl Guzman says management has targeted her.

”They call me into the office every other day,” said Guzman, a 15-year Wal-Mart employee. She said managers accused her of spreading rumors and soliciting co-workers to sign cards during work time, which she denies.

Eugene Hart Sr., a union supporter at the North Miami Beach store, said he thinks some of his co-workers may withdraw their support due to company pressure, but others will sign up to replace them.

”We had the whole store,” Hart said. “They got ‘em scared.”

Much as it might like to, Wal-Mart can’t fire everybody at the same time. Indeed, if the workers in North Miami Beach really had the whole store and if the Employee Free Choice Act were the law of the land (as I believe it will be eventually) there’d be a union there already. Nevertheless, I suspect that union supporters will eventually get a majority again as the economy gets even worse and their needs grow larger.

Yet even if the United Food and Commercial Workers union can’t organize in North Miami Beach, there are literally thousands of Wal-Mart stores that could organize at any moment. As the communist regimes in Eastern Europe learned in 1989, revolution can come swiftly when people finally catch a whiff of the sweet smell of freedom.

Enter your Email Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz