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/

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.

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