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 AustinEnvironmental Specialist III Maine Department of Environmental ProtectionMSEA-SEIU Board of Directors
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