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/

Friday, July 31, 2009

Julie Andrews

The Sound of MusicImage by elycefeliz via Flickr

It wouldn't be funny if it weren't so true... Julie Andrews starred in “The Sound of Music” when I was young and foolish. Not everything has changed, I am no longer young.
Here are the updated lyrics for "My Favorite Things" from "The Sound Of Music."

Maalox and nose drops and needles for knitting,Walkers and handrails and new dental fittings,Bundles of magazines tied up in string,These are a few of my favorite things.

Cadillac's and cataracts, and hearing aids and glasses,Polident and Fixodent and false teeth in glasses,Pacemakers, golf carts and porches with swings,These are a few of my favorite things..

When the pipes leak, When the bones creak,When the knees go bad,I simply remember my favorite things,And then I don't feel so bad.

Hot tea and crumpets and corn pads for bunions,No spicy hot food or food cooked with onions,Bathrobes and heating pads and hot meals they bring,These are a few of my favorite things.

Back pains, confused brains, and no need for sinnin',Thin bones and fractures and hair that is thinnin',And we won't mention our short, shrunken frames,When we remember our favorite things.

When the joints ache, When the hips break,When the eyes grow dim,Then I remember the great life I've had,And then I don't feel so bad.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Junk Email

This email has been everywhere in a lot of versions. At last the Governor has found a way to put a good face on State Government. I grabbed the first version from Eyeonthe503, a labor blog in Oregon. A quote from Eyeonthe503, Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

All personnel will now be required to look happy while working. Governor-approved supplies will be provided to each employee at little or no cost.

· Workloads getting to you?

· Feeling stressed?

· Too many priorities and assignments?

· Worried about pending furloughs?

· Here is the new low-cost, Governor-approved solution to cope with multiple priorities and assignments!

· Each employee will be supplied 2 paper clips and rubber bands. (See Fig 1.)

Figure 1.

Assemble items as shown in Fig 2.

Figure 2

Apply as shown in Fig 3.

Figure 3.

Enjoy your day. This new office equipment will help you to reach the end of a productive work day with a smile on your face! Stop by the front desk and pick up supplies.

Governor Baldacci

Check out the original version below.


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Friday, July 24, 2009

Is Baldacci planning lay offs?

100_9351Image by SarekOfVulcan via Flickr

Is Baldacci preparing for hundreds of lay offs?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Rumors are flying. Is Governor Baldacci preparing plans to lay off possibly hundreds of state workers? Rumors are that Baldacci has ordered state department heads to prepare plans for layoffs, while he remains closed mouthed.

At the same time contract negotiations over a new contract are reaching a conclusion. The negotiations, started last year have been fouled by a legislature that decided to ignore collective bargaining when they refused to negotiate cuts. The contract Tentative Agreement is going to a vote of the Union Contract Action Team on Monday the 27th. State Employees have tried to be a part of the process for many months both through suggestions for real cost savings and political action.

Millions of dollars of cost savings ideas put forward by State Employees have been ignored while the State refused to allow any Union involvement in government oversight of waste and fraud, claiming the appropriations committee could do it all. The fear in the politician’s eyes is clear every time a State Employee says “We know where the waste is!”

MSEA reached out to the State last year and asked to be part of any discussions around employee pay cuts or benefit reductions. MSEA members know times are tough, we pay taxes, and we offered to save the State tax payer money. Every time we offered to point out the waste, a politician would say no thank you.

The ugly refusal of the legislature to respect collective bargaining has many employees demanding legal action be taken against the State for bargaining in bad faith.

State Employees have accused the governor and the legislature of undermining the negotiations and disrespecting all state employees and all taxpayers when they refused to allow citizens to be part of their so called savings committee.

The continuing refusal by the State to bargain in good faith is a common topic of discussion during Union discussions. It has been a constant disappointment that the Governor and the legislature continue to intimidate workers with the layoff threat. There are responsible solutions to be had, but the State has so far refused to listen to ideas that could save Maine tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars. State Employees know where the waste is, where the political favors are being handed out at the expense of the taxpayer. Unlike the legislature, State Employees are committed to public service, not a political agenda.

The two sides have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract, but the Union has refused to recognize shut down days in formal language as there were never any talks with the Unions only a midnight deal in the appropriations committee with no Union input.

MSEA-SEIU, which represents most state employees, tried to offer savings in order to bargain a guarantee there would be no future layoffs. The combination of attrition and retirement incentives was refused mostly by the right in a knee jerk refusal to offer any benefit to any State Employee, no matter the savings to the taxpayers of Maine.

The union proposed retirement incentives for cost savings, but the State said the retirement ideas would cost the state millions of dollars. The Union offered to be part of a cost savings committee and we were told not to let the door hit us on the way out.

The state's biennial budget for 2009-2011 plans for about 200 retirements during the July retirement incentive period and allows the Union to negotiate for any “excess” personal savings the Union can identify. This may be the reason the appropriations committee refused to allow State Employees on the savings commission as they are certain to want to hide any monies found and protect their favored private contractors regardless of the cost to the state budget. State Employees, being taxpayers too would have been too likely to publicize the wasteful contracts to political allies and campaign supporters.

The union's bargaining committee meets Monday to discuss ratification of the proposed contract and whether to send it out for a vote of the membership or to send the negotiations team back to the table. If the contract is sent back to the table the State is almost certain to call an impasse which would result in months of stalemated talks with no contract in place. The legislature found a way around our contract by making the law that came in to effect at the end of the last contract.

If we have a new contract in place it will be much, much harder to bypass an existing contract. Having a contract in place may very well be the least bad of a series of bad choices. Employees continue to be covered by the provisions of the old contract, which expired June 30 and a contract extension that runs until the end of August. Shut down days have already been implemented along with cuts in longevity pay due to the legislative refusal to bargain and instead rely on brute force.

Union members are of many opinions about the best course of action. Stress and tension have been building for months and the latest announcement of an “at least” $80,000,000.00 million dollar budget gap has only added to the strain.

It is time to look at some of the services being done by contractors that could be done by state workers at a lower cost. This would make it a lot easier to cut in the future without all the politics. The State is cutting back, why should private industry be any different?

Some State jobs are 100% federally-funded and the State still wants to cut the jobs and lose the funds that come with those jobs. The right wing doesn’t care about savings. They only want to reduce head count regardless of the cost. Many state employees are partially or fully funded by federal funds.

Stop the welfare, save the budget. How about instead of handing the money out with no question we use some state employees to investigate families collecting when complaints are made. Currently State Employees are told “There is no money for enforcement” or “We would lose Federal dollars”. Get it straight! State Employees don’t hate welfare but they do hate welfare cheats!

Get a job with Wal-Mart and see how long you last without a union. Unions don’t support poor work standards. If you let a company go out of business, you are out of a job. If it wasn't for the threat of unionization wages would be far lower than they are now. State Workers don’t think they should be immune to the economy but if we have taken cuts instead of lay offs then asking for no more lay offs is only fair.

Why are cleaners being laid off and during a hiring freeze while new management positions are created in the budget at $75,000 a year or better to start? Essential employees must stay home without pay while there are internal job postings for even more management. That is the real insult.

SSDD, Same Shit Different Day. Cut the programs that help people. Why does it always have to be the departments that help people that get cuts? We thought we had a Governor that supported state employees. He gave us a speech promising no furloughs, no unpaid days while he was in office. Lying S.O.B.!

State employees have almost gotten used to being hated.It makes the economy of knuckle dragging radio shows run. State Employees don’t make a fortune and when we were paid far, far, under the private sector we were laughed at as being too dumb to get a real job with real wages. The Staff has been going down for a decade and many employees are now doing the work of several employees.

We couldn't break a contract to pay AIG executives nearly half a Billion dollars in bonuses for destroying a company because the contract was sacred, yet the legislature can break our contract while trying to find out how to steal the health care and pensions we were promised for 30 years as if asking to be paid what you were promise is a crime.

Jesus hired three men at three different times yet paid them what they were promised, there should be some lesson there for the "moral majority".

The state budget is out of control because ME's politicians from both sides of the aisle refuse to produce a list of "essential services" and the real cost associated with those services. In many cases the service is unneeded or could be done cheaper by a State Employee. True costing is not something state employees are afraid of, it is something they are demanding. A true cost basis would cost some jobs but with the firing of wasteful contracting many more would open up.

Cuts should not be made on the basis of head count but on an honest review of costs and need for a particular service. If outsourcing a vital service can save money with out losing efficiency it must be considered. If a State Employee can do the job better and cheaper we should keep or hire a State Employee.

Cut employee pay and benefits and you will save temporarily save some money. You will also see the level of service drop because you will have lost a skilled work force while being unable to attract skilled replacement workers.

Services cost money, and if it costs $100.00 to fix a pot hole, then it costs a $100.00. If you pay less, you will get less, if you want less service and quality a politician will be happy to give you what you want.

The state should listen to suggestions of workers, not management, for cost-saving ideas.

In the worst economy since the Great Depressions, MSEA-SEIU members found cost savings ideas, instead of tax increases or reductions in services. Many on the right and some possible Democrat candidates for Governor were far more interested in publicity than saving Maine's budget.

Union Employees want to provide quality public services and protect the jobs of our co-workers. These are your neighbors who plow the roads, protect the public, and fix the roads.

It’s bullshit!! Every time I hear “6 people to lean on a shovel" it is really bull shit. Most of the shovel leaners are contractors that buy the same uniforms and paint their trucks the same color as State trucks so their waste will be blamed on State Employees. The employees don’t ask for five friends to help. Management sends five because the more people they manage the more pay they get. Everyone blames the employee. It's time to look at upper management.

Governor Baldacci didn’t even try to negotiate in good faith. He never offered State Employees the respect of even asking for their help. They sold us out to the Republican head hunters with no regard for the tax payers of Maine. "So what if it costs more!" Cutting State employees and paying more for the same services is always a good idea when you are looking for a consultant job when you leave the legislature.

A lot of consultants are former employees who retire, collect their retirement and then return to the same job in the same agency. The state pays them twice. Get rid of the double dipping mostly former managers if you really want to save $$$$.

Union workers want to help the public and save money. We are the public. We pay taxes. How about BMV? If you asked State Employees they might be willing to shift hours so the public could come in at 6 pm or at 6 am. The trouble is the politicians are afraid to ask State Employees for help. They are afraid we would say yes.

Some people hate Unions. OK, OK, but, state employees aren’t members of Tony Soprano's family. State Employees are taxpayers and neighbors and make our state run, these cuts will be devastating to them and to our state services. No one else in Maine has been asked to take thousands of dollars of tax increases in a single year.You don’t think the contractors will have to take less money do you?

With State Lay offs more employees get laid off than needed in order to give bragging rights to some politician while he or she ships the work out to a business partner or friend at an inflated price. The contract MSEA-SEIU may get now is not a good contract but the fault is not on the union. The fault is on the legislature that has wasted money for decades while raiding retirement funds and borrowing even in years of surplus.

Union members were not smoking dope and dreaming of pay increases and more benefits. We know this is a rough time and we expected to take a hit. All we ever asked is to be part of the process and to get the respect we deserve.

The state is expecting to save money by having state employees use their vehicles while never increasing the mileage paid. Employees don’t even get what the Feds have determined is the least it takes to run a car. They can’t afford to run the cars but we are supposed to carry the load.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Negotiations Team Reaches Tentative Agreement with State of Maine

The executive branch bargaining team has reached a tentative agreement with the State.

A meeting will be held on Monday July 27 with all members of the C.A.T. (contract action team) all Stewards and Chief Stewards in the Executive Branch, Executive Board members, and others who have volunteered to be on the Contract Action Team.

This may seem short notice but this comes after an early start in 2008. Months of planning and over 54 meetings to get to this point.
A blast email went out.........Postcards have been sent. Hopefully, we will have a good turn out on Monday.

Please make personal contact with members in the above listed categories and encourage them to attend, reminding them that this is their chance to hear first hand how we got where we are and what is in this contract.

The meeting with the CAT will start at 11 and we expect to be done by 3 PM.

Sent: Wednesday, July 22, 2009 1:29 PM

It has been a long time coming. It would have been easy to roll over in this economy, after all who could blame the team? Your co-workers did not give up. They forged a team and never, never gave in to the easy way out.

No one is going to promise you a great contract, a wonderful contract to solve all your problems. What your friends, the members you elected have done is to get the best possible contract possible under the circumstances. You may be surprised, you may be disappointed in some aspects but you can be proud of the decisions you made and the people you sent to represent you.

For myself, for the Pro-Tech team and all the rest of the members of the Executive Branch Bargaining team, we thank you all for the chance to work for you.
I hope you can feel as good about us as I feel about every member of the team, our Union leadership, and our staff.

In Solidarity

Tom Maher.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Dream of Heaven for Right to Work States

This Post is from CrunchGear.com

Someone who hates Unions must have thought this one up. If the Japanese employees are willing to put up with this, how long before they try it here? RFID technoloyg is growing fast and the need to wear a company badge would take care of reading where you are.


Read the whole post at CrunchGear.com.

After paying $21,000, factory management can simultaneously monitor the activities of up to 30 workers and then analyze and visualize the data collected (fee for a 3-day-analysis). Each worker has to wear a gyro sensor and an acceleration sensor at the ankle and a mini video camera in the shirt pocket.

DSS also .......able to locate the workers, record their activity .....

Follow the link for the rest of the scary post at CrunchGear.com

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Have some fun, maybe lower your phone bill, Check out Magic Jack

Have some fun, maybe lower your phone bill, Check out Magic Jack

No politics, just a short article on a toy we have all seen on TV, Magic Jack. Will the MagicJack work? Will it lower your bills? Yes and maybe. I am in the IT field and my job is telecommunications so I couldn’t hold out any longer. I spent $39.95 at CVS for the MagicJack and started playing.

If you’ve tried other PC-to-phone services, MagicJack is definitely in the running.

Installation and do you need to be a Geek?

White, male, aging, crooked teeth, messy hair,...Image via Wikipedia

90% of all installations will go smoothly, half of the rest will require light Geeking and a trip to tech support (on line chat) There will be some part of the remaining 5% that will require knowledge of terms like UDP, TCP, Port forwarding, VPN and firewalls along with a good grasp of very short meaningful words and phrases.

Buy a MagicJack online or pick one up at CVS, Radio Shack, Staples and more. When you get your Magic Jack you’ll be able to install it and start making phone calls in minutes, except for the small minority of people that will scare spouses and children once the frustration level peaks.

In the package you get the Magic Jack USB device and a short USB extension cord you can use if your USB ports are too crowded to fit another device next to another port. MJ is small, about 2-1/2 inches long by 1-3/8 inches wide, and 3/8 of an inch thick.

Plug the MJ into a USB port in your computer or laptop. You could have problems if you use a USB hub unless it is AC powered. If you have too many USB devices it can run your PC short of power as all USB ports share a single power source and then you will need to buy a powered hub, but that is not a fault with the MagicJack.

After the first step the MJ will do nearly everything for you, after all, it is magic. Step one: Plug it in. It will take a minute or two to load and download the software to make it work with your computer.

You’ll see a picture of the MagicJack; you get several messages while the software is loading, then the “soft phone” screen which will live on your desktop. You can minimize the soft phone screen when you’re not using your internet phone for calling, but be prepared for it to pop to the front any time you receive or make a call. This can be annoying but can be lived with.

How do I use the Soft Phone?

The Soft Phone is especially useful if you decide to use a headset with a microphone in place of a regular telephone. You can use the Soft Phone to dial a number, or use any phone that you have connected to the MJ. While MJ advertises Caller ID, it will only pop up names for numbers you have listed in your contacts. You get free Voice Mail and 411 service through Free411. The Free411 service works fairly well but in Maine cannot tell the difference between Hampden and Hampton. If you don’t mind the ads the free 411 is worth it.

magic jack softphone screen

The Soft phone screen and the rectangle on the left may contain paid advertising in the future, but as long as I can use the phone without responding to an ad I’m OK with that. During installation you will be prompted for an address to assign your 911 location. You will have to put something in there and remember that if you move or have your laptop somewhere else, the 911 information being sent should be updated or the ambulance could show up 3000 miles away.

The 911 info is also the way MJ decides what area code to assign. WARNING Mainers, and users in other States, your area code may not be available and this could cause your next door neighbor to pay a toll call from a cell phone or landline just to call you. There is currently no 207 area code available. If MJ picks a wrong area code you are allowed one free change so be prepared to change it to somewhere useful. If your family or friends are in Florida you can have a number from Florida that may end up a local call for your friends.

How does the price compare to other services?

MJ costs $40.00 out the door and about $20 for a year of service. The first year is free with purchase. Skype is about $30 a year. Vonage is about $500 per year. Nuff said?

What does it sound like? Will I sound like I am calling from Mars?

VoIP always gets some negative reviews for sound quality. The quality is far better than expected, good enough to send faxes and free for long distance. At $19.95 a year, live with it as that is the current state of the art with VoIP. I don’t think there are any measurable differences with MJ compared to any other service.

Tech Support?

There are no numbers you can call, but there is an online live chat service. It is exactly what you expect for under $2.00 a month, but in most cases you will get an answer 24x7.

Customer Service?

I don’t think they included that one.

I like the MJ and you can get a 30-day free trial, although I recommend Staples where you can get a refund if returned in 14 days and you won’t pay shipping for a return.

What do I get With MagicJack?

You could get, A phone number with your area code, (not yet in Maine)

  • If you choose an area code outside of Maine you may get to choose from several local exchanges in your chosen area code, further reducing the cost for friends to call you.
  • Free voicemail. The voicemail feature works even if MJ is not connected to a PC, if you remember to set it up. It is not automatic.
  • Portability. It is only a little bigger than a thumb drive and you can carry it with you. You can use a laptop, a friend’s pc and when in a hotel you won’t have to pay roaming charges on your cell phone or the huge hotel per-call fees as long as you have an internet connection. You can plug the hotel phone into MJ or just carry a headset with microphone with you.
  • Unlimited calling within Canada and the United States.

With MagicJack as long as you are connected to the internet and can plug in, if someone calls you, your phone rings. Do you have kids that tie up a line at home? A second line for your kids is cheap with MJ.

The MagicJack is a great way to save your cell phone minutes, especially for those of you with no landline.

Downside……You Could Also Get

  • A higher electric bill, to use Magic Jack, your computer needs to be turned on. No computer, no calls. Incoming will go to your free voice mail if your PC is turned off but only if you remember to set it up. No power, no internet, means no Magic Jack.
  • Magic Jack as good as the rest, most of the time, but the forums will tell you that it can be unreliable at times. The problems seem to be related to a rapid growth, not an unwillingness to invest in infrastructure.

Summary is it worth it?

There is nothing cheaper than Magic Jack if you are going to use VoIP. It is easiest VoIP solution to install. If you are a beginner MJ will make the installation and use painless and if you are a professional there are a number of other features and tweaks that are not covered here that you will discover on your own. For VoIP, Magic Jack, while not perfect, is at least equal to the rest and at an unbeatable price. Top of Form

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