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/

Monday, February 28, 2011

Who ya gonna call?

Revolutionary War Pension Claim for Abijah Hub...Image by Special Collections at Wofford College via Flickr
Joint Standing Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs

Senator Rosen (R) Chairs the powerful appropriations committee. If it passes there it lives, if it gets changed there it is changed. It is very rare that anything can go far without the stamp of the chairman and the committee.

If you need to know who to reach, reach out to these committee members. It will be more than the governor is doing according to some sources. The Republican Senators and Representatives are growing more and more tired of the my way or the highway form of government. Let them know what is bad about this budget, what hurts, what can be fixed.

I think this is the complete list. I don't think many members of the appropriations committee realize that the Governor's bill would prevent State Employees from offering any concessions to offset any reductions in pensions or benefits.

The only thing he is allowing concessions on is towards Merit raises or Longevity. If you have Longevity payments now he is proposing to take it away again. This is as much as a 2% cut to many employees. A 2% cut, with a 2% increase in pension payments, and who knows what kind of take aways he plans in the current contract negotiations.

State Employees know where the waste is hiding and it is not in the pensions we have coming. The pensions are deferred compensation, payment in the future for less pay today. We paid for the pensions, we will pay for the pensions. Ask the members of the appropriations committee to negotiate directly with us, we are tax payers too.

Our kids, State services, the elderly, and the trust the citizens in Maine should be able to have in their government is at stake.  

Late Edit: 
 I sent the following letter to all members of the appropriations committee. I look forward to their answers. (Full Disclosure: I edited one spelling error)

I will keep it short.
Thank you for the work you do for the Citizens of Maine. I know what we pay you, and it is not enough.

Why does the governor’s budget specifically ban State Employees from offering pay or benefit concessions to offset the budget? Did you know that?

Senator Rosen said that according to his information the 20 year average C.O.L.A. to State Employees was 2.85% and reflected the inflation rate.
Why would the pension plan be permanently prevented from going over 2% if not an attempt to punish (Union) retirees?

Why are there NO representatives on the committee to study the closure of Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center except for those with a vested profit motive for closing the institute?
Why can representatives receive a State Pension and a State paycheck, while other employees may not? By extending that to current employees at this time, the State could provide a ZERO cost retirement incentive and allow the State to hire employees with many years of experience at huge savings.

Confidential employees, like the Governor's daughter pay ZERO towards their pensions. Isn't that an unfunded liability?

Most State Employees will have their Social Security cut by up to 70% regardless of how small their pension is.

Why has the governor refused to meet with any Union Representatives?

Thank you for your time,
I look forward to your response.
Check the comments section for breaking news on the budget. The Pension system is much better than reports have shown. The trustees are making a tremendous return. Click here.

Senator Richard W. Rosen (R-Hancock), Chair
Home Tel: 469-3779/ Cell: 944-5091

Senator Roger J. Katz (R-Kennebec)
Home Tel: 622-9921/ Cell: 485-2394

Senator Dawn Hill (D-York)
Home Tel: 337-3689

Representative Patrick S. A. Flood (R-Winthrop), Chair
Home Tel: 395-4915

Representative Tom J. Winsor (R-Norway)
Home Tel: 527-2233

Representative Kathleen D. Chase (R-Wells)
Home Tel: 646-2118/ Cell: 468-9747

Representative Tyler Clark (R-Easton)
Home Tel: 488-2633/ Cell: 227-6971

Representative Kenneth Wade Fredette (R-Newport)
Home Tel: 368-4242

Representative Dennis L. Keschl (R-Belgrade)
Home Tel: 495-2973 / Cell: 441-3701

Representative Margaret R. Rotundo (D-Lewiston)*
Home Tel: 784-3259

Representative John L. Martin (D-Eagle Lake)
Home Tel: 444-5556

Representative David C. Webster (D-Freeport)
Home Tel: 865-4311

Representative Sara R. Stevens (D-Bangor)
Home Tel: 942-8900

Enter your Email

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz
Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, February 26, 2011

In Germany, they came for the Trade Unionists first.

Cover of SolidarityImage via Wikipedia

by: NarsBars

Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 17:05:00 PM EST

Today in Augusta there was a Rally to support the Wisconsin Unions. Historical note: In Germany prior to the start of WWII one of the first groups to be arrested, or killed or jailed, before even the Jews, were the trade Unionists. This has nothing to do with Nazism, this is just a comparison to how Unions are viewed by an authoritarian state.
The war on labor is now global, not local.

I arrived an hour or more early hoping to meet up with friends, perhaps seeking support in a group.

At the beginning I was parked in the wrong spot and it looked as if there were many, many, Tea Party protesters showing up and I didn't see a Union bumper sticker in the crowd.

I arrived early, afraid that there could a huge crowd of Tea Party members and a few lonely Union supporters in the cold Maine winter.

Leaving my eleven year old Escort, I nearly took off my SEIU hat to walk past the pile of angry people and elderly codgers old enough to have their Social Security and their Medicare, but squared my hat, and walked up the hill.

It was like walking towards a sun rise. As I came over the hill I saw like yellow clouds blocking the sun, a few Tea Party flags and members, maybe a hundred.

I am no crowd estimator but in moments I found how small the crowd really was.
Give em credit, the Koch brothers have bought them very nice flags.

Then further into the light, I saw tens, and then hundreds and hundreds of our fellow Mainers, Union members, private citizens not a part of any Union and all around me the crowd kept streaming in. Unlike the Tea Party they were smiling, not hating.
We sang, we had our own signs, made from the heart, we had solidarity! I especially liked "Little beards against LePage"

The bad news is I sang too, but at least I was drowned out by the hundreds of proud tax paying citizens there to support Wisconsin, to support labor in Maine, and YES to support Maine State employees.

The speakers were great, they spoke about the need for us to all support each other or be torn apart one at a time. The messages were all positive, no hate for Republicans, just a demand that we be heard, that we be a part of the solution.

Several Democratic representatives were there, speaking in no uncertain terms. Yes, the economy is bad but it is no reason to break decades of promises, to steal bread, medicine, and heating oil, from retirees, while refusing to bargain over what can be done. (The LePage budget would make it illegal for State Employees to offer concessions to keep their pensions). Yes, would make concessions illegal.
Our Democratic representatives said clearly they knew that this was not a budget issue, that this is no less than an attack on all labor, an attempt to break all Unions across the country and end the rights of all employees to have a say in their working conditions.

I offered one of the representatives the first free hotel room in Massachusetts. I told her,  "Lord of the Rings" allusion to riding out to face the foes regardless of the odds had grabbed me by the heart.
All around me brothers and sisters chimed in, offering more support and more free hotel rooms. It can happen but only if they have our backing.

This is a fight for life, a fight for all labor, not just an MSEA issue. Republican or Democrat the legislature must hear from us.
The Republicans don't like a governor who is trying to order them around, it appears there will be a 2/3 budget. They want Democratic buy in to the budget, we must back up our reps and let the Rs know we will vote.

I know many State Employees will be there on the 3rd and the 4th but we need Union members, moms and dads that want good teachers, not lowest bid for profit schools, to be there for the teachers on the 5th. We will be there for each other.

There were sad moments too, looking up the hill to see the few Tea Party members, engaged in Democratic action, but so sadly misinformed, their movement stolen and used by the corporation agenda to make them fight their neighbors, to hate their neighbors, forgetting that they they have been used, and already forgotten and ridiculed by those they helped elect.

Don't make the mistake of thinking the Tea Party is all negative. They are Mainers too but their energy is being transformed to hate, their movement stolen by a few for the benefit of a few.
The Tea Party ideals have been perverted to serve power, and laughed at by those who will never have enough until everyone else has nothing.

Stay home if you must, if you are taking care of family, or sick, but try to be part of history, this may not be the best chance you ever missed, this may be your last chance.

I will take vacation, I will take unpaid time off. What I will not do is to let someone else do this for me. I will be part of this, win lose or draw. I will stand with my brothers and sisters and know that we have done everything possible.

In solidarity,
I hope to see you there.
I want to thank Gerald at Dirigoblue for being an inspiration. I wish I had ten percent of his talent and professional skills. Please add Dirigoblue to your regular reading.

Enter your Email

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz
Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, February 25, 2011

Republicans Target the Poor, Sick, and the Elderly, While Adopting Tax and Spend

Ian's Speeding Around in his Wheelchair!Image by easystand via Flickr
The devastating 2 year state budget proposal, $226,000,000 larger than the last biennium, is an attempt to clump anyone receiving state services into the “welfare bum category” and tosses in State Employees as Union thugs just to round out the damage.

Maine families, any employee receiving a State paycheck, working or retired, elderly or disabled.  Mainers are his preferred targets.

Attacking families is not the Maine way.
The Governor's lust to hurt people outweighs the real damage his budget will also do to the Maine economy.
Money going to the poorest and the retired has the most impact on the economy. Denying medical help to children to provide corporate tax cuts can not be justified.

Here are some of the budget’s low points:

A lifetime 5-year time limit on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Only families facing the greatest challenges are on TANF for 5 or more years, 90% of those families include a family member with a disability.

Starves the children for the mistakes of the parent.

Currently a parent that does not follow TANF rules can have their benefits cut. In the new Republican ideal, assistance is ended for the whole family, kids, grandmother, the disabled. I guess the kids should have picked better parents.

General Assistance benefits limited to once in a calendar year.

Your husband died, and you stopped work to care for a disabled baby? Later that year you lost your job when you child had pneumonia?

Too bad! Your husband should have timed his death better, you should should have had them both happen at the same time. Plan your life like a business.

At least the budget Teaches Patience:

By doubling, the wait to determine eligibility for benefits due to disabilities the governor is teaching patience. By blocking access to medications and medical care under MaineCare to those with serious medical conditions, living below the federal poverty level the governor is planning to save money, not lives.

Those annoying disabled, always whining

About 25,000 Mainers elderly and disabled Mainers will see elimination or reductions in assistance dollars for Medicare Parts B & D. The estimate is 25,000 seniors and disabled will lose the dollars they get to pay for Medicare premiums, deductibles, and prescription drugs, but it may be less than 25,000 if the new three month waiting period kills a few off first.

Saves money by not preventing the abuse and neglect of children.

Several years ago a Democratic administration took $10,000,000 from the Foster Adoptive program and used it to hire more middle management. Diapers, clothes, housing money was stolen to pay for more management. At that time the head of appropriations told a Foster Parent holding a signed contract with the State, “Didn’t anyone every tell you that a State contract isn’t worth anything?”

Now: The Republicans Know a Good Idea When They See One (Then they ignore it)

See this story, in the Portland Press Herald that leaves our most vulnerable children at higher risk. Money cut, jobs cut, for Child protective services. It will teach the little leeches some independence.

Dirigo, Dirigone, the Gov. bragged during the campaign

Cuts will leave Dirigo Health Program insufficient funds to help low income Mainers get health care through DirigoChoice. There is only a 100% cut to funds provided to Dirigo Health through the Fund for Healthy Maine.

Tax breaks for wealthy insurance companies.

You knew that was coming didn’t you? The Gov. plans to cut the funds raised by dropping the assessments on insurance companies and others used to fund Dirigo.

Increased taxes on the workers and retirees of Maine

Aw, come on, you knew that was coming too, didn’t you?

The Governor’s budget will increase taxes on State employees, and reduce benefits at the same time.

A 1 ¼% tax on employee pensions that applies to employees both current and retired in the disguise of a “shared pain” plan. This number is based on the new sliding scale for retirees to pay towards their health care. Some employees with lower pensions will not be subject to the increase of between $400.00 to $1200.00 a year, with yearly increases predicted.

A 2% increase in taxes on 100% of an employee’s current income to go towards the pension plan while yes, cutting the State’s portion, achieving no gain, all pain, in the unfunded liability.

A freeze on cost of living increases for retirees, for five years (already at zero for two).

A change in pensions that will cost a State employee retiring after July 1 of this year a 32% tax on the average State pension for three years. Yes, 32% and that is before taxes.

A 50% reduction in any cost increases for retirees guaranteed to make a $20,000 pension worth $7000.00 in 25 years.

The Republicans support a 32% tax, a 1 ¼% tax, a 2% tax, and I with the denial of merit raises, and the take away of longevity pay currently received, another 7% tax increase to the top.

At least the 32% tax only hits some and expires after you pay it for three years. OOPS! Unless you are a State trooper retiring at 55 years, and then you pay the tax (guaranteed to increase every year) for ten years, while you watch your pension shrink.

This is not shared pain; this is a blatant attack on Unions, an attempt to bust Unions. Stay tuned for the State garage sale. One Turnpike system…….cheap. Get a twofer and buy the Department of Transportation.

Enter your Email

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz
Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Where is Obama hiding?

Wisconsin Union Protest signsImage by vaxomatic via Flickr
     He dropped single payer, gave in before the fight started. But now in Wisconsin will we see his real face or his back side as he runs from the Union support he needs to win in 2012?

The Republicans want to put labor on the long march and make sure there are few survivors. Look at Maine, where all the parts of the Wisconsin budget are in place, but disguised as separate bills,  Wisconsin. Oklahoma, Ohio, Florida, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Texas, our Union was made great by Unions. Where is the guy we elected? The guy we brought to the dance doesn't want to dance with those that brung him..

There is amazing  courage being shown by the Wisconsin Democratic senators, and after Walker's lying plan to pretend to negotiate was exposed as a trick, they are still taking immense criticism by the Koch funded machine.

Some or all of them could face a recall election funded by out of state money but they are standing up for the people that elected them, not for Koch who wants to buy the Wisconsin power plants for a dollar each.

They may lose, in the end they could lose their seats. But these guys are going to look the enemy in the eyes, they are not going down with a bayonet in the back.

What's his name, the U.S. President is not leading, he is not following, he is hiding in the Whitehouse.

Union members gave hundreds of millions of dollars, millions of volunteer hours, and possibly the winning votes to Obama in 2008.

Is this the President's thank you to labor, cowardice, flip flopping, fence riding, triangulation?

Wisconsin is critical to Obama's campaign for 2012. He will face a far greater challenge if Unon members across the country feel betrayed, feel there is no hope for change.

He can't win if his base can't trust him. That is the purely political angle, sad but true.

Politics is a tough game. A politician must work to please everyone, but Obama must realize he will never please the rabid right even if he can cause it to rain money and tilt the country so all immigrants slide downhill to Mexico.

There is a time to stop being an intellectual and show some guts. We had his back now we need him to have ours.
This is his time to back us, not wait to see how it turns out and then claim victory no matter who wins.
If we lose we will know who helped us lose.

The whole country will be justified in mistrusting a man who will throw his strongest, most loyal supporters overboard. If he will abandon them, what would he do to anyone else?

Enter your Email

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz
Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Indiana Official: "Use Live Ammunition" Against Wisconsin Protesters

FROM Mother Jones: Right Wing Hate For Unions "Use Live Ammunition"


Indiana Official: "Use Live Ammunition" Against Wisconsin Protesters

A conservative deputy AG let his emotions get out of hand. It wasn't the first time.

Enter your Email

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Firedoglake Walker Pwned by Koch Fake, Planned to put Fake Troublemakers in The Crowd

Firedoglake is running this story on how Gov. Darth Walker got punked by a fake call from one of the Koch Brothers.

This is priceless. Ian Murphy of Buffalo Beast (the site appears to be down at the moment, but twolf1 has posted both videos on MyFDL) called up Gov. Scott Walker, posing as wealthy industrialist and campaign donor David Koch. They had a 20-minute chat. Here’s an excerpt:
Koch: We’ll back you any way we can. What we were thinking about the crowd was, uh, was planting some troublemakers.........................................................................

Go HERE, and read about the 20 minute conversation the easily fooled, easily bought governor spent with the fake billionaire.

Enter your Email

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Broken Promises, Tax Increases, Three Monkeys

Three wise monkeysImage via Wikipedia
I have been a State employee for 20 years and during that time, I've been one of those evil union "thugs" or activists...you know the type...we protect other workers, we speak to power, we try to get the other side to understand our side...and we figure out what's most important to our members. Yes, our local members. I was elected at my workplace to represent workers' best interests; I served on negotiating committees, as a shop steward, charities, and scholarship committees.

During my 20 years, there were good employees, bad employees, mostly good, there were hard financial times when for years there were no raises even when there were raises in the private sector. But I knew that I had been given a promise of security when I could no longer work. I had a pension and health care in my future, but I had to keep my word and deliver the best work I knew how for the citizens of Maine.

As I said, I was an activist and I knew that in many cases management held that against me, but I never allowed it to justify poor work or slacking off. I had given my word not to my boss, not to my Union, but to the citizens of Maine.

Later in my career, I transferred, to an office 75 miles away because I wanted more responsibility and wanted a change of pace. I knew I was doing my job, my department and my promotions let me know I was doing the work I had promised to do as a State employee. State employees have no respect for anyone that wants to hide and just quietly wait for retirement. If you will not carry the load you should leave, but everyone I know carries their load, they promised they would.

As a Union activist, I was a member of the teams that negotiated contracts with no raises. The State's position was always that there was not enough money for raises and benefits. The employees always chose to protect their future and gave up cash for a promise from the State that they would be secure when they retired. Our membership trusted us and trusted our government when we chose to give up cash for the promise of future benefits.

We had bargained retirement at 60 years of age, then with no bargaining the age was moved to 62, now the governor plans to move it to 65 again with no bargaining. The retirement age had been bargained for and given in fair dealing in compensation for the low wage scales in Maine, lower than the private sector, as just proven again by a Maine State Gov. sponsored survey.

The pension system has always received the State Employee contribution but has been abused by the legislature again and again as an easy out to solve problems or to give political pay backs.

I have worked hard for 20 years, I adopted three children through DHHS, I gave up pay raises, agreed to work another two years to earn my pension, my health care, my security when I retired. I paid nearly 7% of my pay for 20 years so far, all to secure my pension. And now? I'm told that I'M THE PROBLEM.

Senator Rosen head of the appropriations committee said he feels it is necessary to break pension promises. Senator Rosen said the average rate of inflation over the last 20 years has been 2.85%, yet feels that the 2% cap on pensions will not cause pensions to shrink every year. In Reality the Senator’s own figures guarantee a minimum cut of 8.5% over ten years assuming no inflation over 2%, which the Senator has already said he knows is a false assumption. Including the current planned three-year freeze on cost of living adjustments, an employee retiring today will see over a 14% cut in their pensions over the next 10 years. That is nearly a thousand dollars a year cut for retired Mainers.

PO Box 877
Bucksport, ME 04416
Phone: (207) 469-3779
Email: Sen. Richard Rosen [Send email to Sen. Richard Rosen]

When the Legislature is in session, you can leave a message for Sen. Richard Rosen by calling the State Senate Message Phone: (800) 423-6900 or by calling the office at: (207) 287-1505.

State retirees average pension is $19,000, and these figures include those pensions based on the "6 figure salaries" Governor LePage claimed were too low to get good help. If he was right, we know we have far from the best people running our State agencies, maybe the 3rd, 4th, or 10th choice. I can just see the conversation in the Gov’s office “Have you called any temp agencies?”

Many State employees may be forced to retire by the end of June, but I can see many that will be forced to wait it out until they are 65, thereby maintaining the highest paid employees and leaving no room for new employees to find a career. I need to feed my family, but maybe I don’t have to fear losing my home or being unable to feed my family or dying without health care. Early in the LePage campaign, the Governor said the Mardens employees did not need a union because they were treated like family.

After all, the governor hired many Mardens employees, and he did hire his daughter. She lives at the taxpayer’s expense in the Blaine house, on my dime and yours. I wonder if he will offer the same free room and board to the rest of his “family”?

If you earn a State Pension, waiting for Social Security to kick in won't help. If a State employee has a pension coming S.S. is reduced by up to 2/3 before you get the check. If you try to get a second job S.S. computes how much to take away from your check against whatever you have left. I will have $175.00 coming, then I will pay $125.00 towards Medicare. It will be impossible for me and for many employees that retire after June to afford health care, but the State is playing numbers games again claiming the savings by not paying for my health care. You see, if I don’t have a health care plan I can qualify for Medicare and shift the cost to the Federal government, and the State. Would you let your family go without care if you could do anything to help them?

But State Employee Pensions are so GENEROUS!

My job is considered one of the better paying jobs, so let me tell you about my plans for retirement.

If I retire, my pension will be about $20,000 at age 62. $20,000 before taxes. I paid taxes on that pension money when I earned it. I will pay taxes on it again when I receive it. If I retire after July 1 of this year, the governor would have me pay all of my own health care for the next three years, leaving me with $13,000 before taxes. If I want to continue to pay for my wife and 13 year old daughter, I will pay an additional $8000 a year, leaving me with $5,000 before taxes.

Since I can’t pay for family health care and live, I won't have it, who needs it if you can’t eat?
After taxes My family can plan on living on somewhere around $11,000 a year after taxes. I sure hope my room at the Blaine house comes with free food.

Obviously I won't be able to pay for health care but at $20,000 a year before taxes I will qualify for food stamps, maybe heating assistance and other State aid that will likely cost as much or more than leaving me with the pension and benefits promised, and paid for by me and my brothers and sisters.

The legislature is ignoring over ONE BILLION DOLLARS, earned by the pension system in the last year, while planning to increase spending in the current budget by $300,000,000 more than the hated Democrats.

 The Gov. wants to increase pension contributions by state employees, while at the same time decreasing the State share, accomplishing nothing. The Gov. wants the budget law to make it illegal for State Employees to even negotiate over the pension and health care provisions.

 The whole plan is not intended to help the budget; it is a creation of people like Scott Fish former editor of AMG whose long hatred of Unions made his reputation. The intent of the whole package is not reform, but revenge, the idea of crippling, starving, and punishing your neighbors, because they joined a union and along with 61% of other Mainers did not vote for the Governor. That is the real driving force behind this legislation.

Gov. LePage, Do unto others as you would have done unto those friends and member of your family that you hired. Let us negotiate to work towards a responsible budget. If these tough times require tough decisions, maybe negotiations with your employees is your first tough step.

Enter your Email

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz
Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

State Retirees to see $6000.00 tax increase or 100% loss of health care.

BERLIN - NOVEMBER 17:  Members of a variety of...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
State Retirees to face $6000.00 tax increase or 100% loss of health care.

Governor LePage said that future retirees can expect to pay a portion of their retirement until they reach 65 and are eligible for Social Security. Governor LePage’s definition of “a portion” is 100%.

This Statement shows duplicity, ignorance, or both. Very few State Employees will qualify for 100% Social Security benefits. Many have never paid in to the system, and those that have most face up to a 2/3 cut in their S.S. due to the Federal tax on State Retiree Social Security benefits called the “Windfall elimination” provision. Simply put, if you get a State pension, they confiscate your S.S. because the Feds wanted to have that money to spend.

If a State Employee has only worked for the State they do not qualify for Medicare and their State promised health care is the only care they can expect when they retire. They may have no S.S. to look forward to. My projected S.S. is about $150.00 a month.

The Governor recently encouraged State employees to "retire now" by putting through a budget that would deny them negotiated health care benefits until 65 years of age, effectively slapping a $6000.00 penalty on their retirement while denying them an annual raise to keep up with inflation. (Commonly referred to by Republicans as a tax)

What happened to the "no new taxes" promise from the Tea-Party backed candidate?

The average pension of a retired employee is $19,000.00 before taxes. If a spouse wants to have a survivor get their pension if they die the pension is reduced by up to 20%, now the pension is $15,200.00.

Under LePage’s plan, if an employee retires before they reach 65 they will pay the full cost of their health care, approximately $6000.00, if they want their spouse covered the cost is about $250.00 a month, more if you have a younger spouse, more again if you are 62 and you might live longer. Then at 65 when the employee ages into the full payment of health care, the Federal need to pick up Medicare part B kicks in, at about $125.00 a month for both of them, a $3000.00 annual cost.

Between 62 and 65, a retiree’s pension could be reduced by $6000.00 not including the cost (100%) of the spousal coverage and if a child under 26 is included in family coverage, cost raises to nearly $5200.00 more. Retirees face a potential cut of up to $6000.00 a year under just the governor’s plan, up to $11,200.00 if they want to cover family. Do the math. A retiree’s pension is reduced to $7,800.00 and all before taxes kick in. This will not encourage State Employees to retire before 65.

This is how Governor LePage plans to deal with the budget. He will send employees out to live on a $7,800.00 pension, deny any adjustments for three years, and then guarantee an inflation adjustment smaller than the average inflation rate for the last 80 years.

To add further insult to injury, under the current system if you retire you must take your health care or lose it forever, so those that are forced to stay in the workforce past 62 must live in fear of losing their jobs for the next three years because if they don't spend the $600.00 a month for themselves and up to $5200.00 for their families they will lose the benefit that they may have worked for, for over 30 years. This is a threat coveted by an administration hostile to labor, a hammer the administration wants to wield over an aging workforce.

Maine is trying to drive employees into a retirement they cannot afford, while the governor has proposed a nearly 10% increase in spending taken directly from employees and retirees.

Blame the employees.

Maine under LePage is not only committing theft, but also trying to ignore the reality that pensioners, are our friends, neighbors, and fellow Mainers who earned their retirement by trusting their State.

The pension obligations are not nearly as overwhelming as they have been painted, with Maine's fund increasing nearly a Billion dollars through shrewd investing in just one year.

Instead of taking real steps to research the problem and find real savings, in a lust for Union blood, the new Governor is trying to blame the victims.

Unions in Maine have not been asked for input. Would they accept changes for new employees in the same way as our sister state of Vermont or that Left wing, all Democratic state California?

In many States through bargaining, State legislatures have utilized the knowledge of their employees to find savings, and employees have negotiated higher monthly pension contributions, retirement incentives, and current savings by such novel ideas as having State agencies bid on jobs against private industry.

Can we find savings in Maine?

We may never know. It is not in the nature of this ex CEO's to seek any opinion but his own.

It appears he believes he can send a memo to both the employees and the legislature to do as he says.

A CEO may be able to run a company efficiently and make the trains run on time, by giving orders, but a legislature jealously guards its role and rights. As a CEO, the Gov. has had no experience dealing with opinions other than his own. The Maine legislature is a great believer in education.

There has been no dialog with the Unions. There have been no talks with the Republican leadership. It appears that Gov. LePage is trying to govern with no input. He has not sought out employee Unions, has not talked with the legislature that must run for office in two years. This may be the hope for Maine, Maine has a Republican majority but they are one of three co-equal branches of government and the legislature does not take orders from any other branch.

Employees would welcome a conversation with the Gov. but there has been no attempt to involve employees or their Unions. There are numerous possible partial fixes to the pension problem. Some ideas are a temporary increase in pension deductions, a temporary reduction in pension adjustments until the economy improves even more furloughs or voluntary temporary pay cuts. I know employees could suggest far more ideas to reduce the impact of permanent pension cuts or the prospect of having no health care in retirement, while there wages will continue the wage freeze they have been in for years, even taking proposed cuts. These employees have far more motivation to solve the State’s problem with pensions than any other group.

It seems as if Gov. LePage’s goal is to permanently cripple Unions and retirees, while ignoring the budget, and trashing the full faith and trust of the State of Maine.

The Federal court system will clog with lawsuits questioning the legality of reducing pension benefits and breaking contracts that retirees believed they could trust.

Rather than face this expense the State should work with the current employees and retirees to develop a system to protect their security and provide a predictable future.

Current employees will be taking a hit, but the worst impact from refusing to listen to State employees, freezing, annual increases, and lowering them permanently to less than the rate of inflation, is to get revenge on State employees that have voted Democratic while they are older, sicker, and more vulnerable.

The loss of spending from retirees in Maine and the employees fleeing Maine’s income tax on their already taxed pensions will more than offset any savings, all in the name of telling them to “kiss his butt”.

A fact the governor does not acknowledge is that the pension States expected revenue has increased nearly $300,000,000.00 due to increased consumer spending and increasing tax revenues, an increase the governor moved immediately to wipe out by increasing spending over 7.8%.

This is not just a Maine governor’s idea, this is a national trend funded by large corporations intending to make the U.S. the cheap labor source for their new market, China.

Until now, Congress has had little authority over state handling of their pension accounts, but in the Republican Congress the idea of letting States declare bankruptcy on their debts and wipe out all pension obligations has been repeatedly floated. These new laws would leave the employees with no pensions while still repaying 100% of any Wall St. debt.

Enter your Email

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz
Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuna Delight

The governor's pension proposal guarantees that State retirees will receive a pension cut every year.
Limiting the pension C.O.L.A. to 2% guarantees nearly a 2% cut every year. Inflation has averaged over 3% yearly since 1929. The only exceptions are the last two years, but don’t forget Bush took the cost of many foods and fuel out of the figure. I know my gas hasn’t gone up this year, how about you?

Maine's Governor, former Mardens employee Paul LePage’s proposal to destroy the "full faith and trust of the State of Maine" by stealing  employees benefits and future income earned over decades of service, while attempting to rule as a CEO not a governor shows his contempt for collective bargaining rights. While he said State employees will be making more next year, he forgot to mention that he intends to take back all of the pay returned by the ending of furlough days by gutting benefits without negotiation --so far not as bad as some governors who want to strip employees of even the right to collective bargaining. LePage's attack is still the most vicious and ill thought out plan by any governor since the beginning of collective bargaining.

This attack as angered labor, but more importantly is the fact that his methodology, rule by order has outraged even the legislature. The growing buzz is that not only Democrats but also Republicans are angry that LePage has not talked to them, has taken no interest in the concerns of their constituents, Republican legislators face reelection in two years. An election that is certain to raise the number of Democratic voters.  

In meetings across Maine unions are calling on members and allies to join together, meet their legislators, and fight against pension cuts, and the destruction of our environment in the name of jobs. The recently announced budget is not a model of austerity; it is a listing of theft from pensioners, employees, the sick, and the children of Maine all to shift the tax dollars to private corporations.

Republicans remain unsure and are growing dissatisfied with the new Governor's attitude towards the legislature also. A senior GOP state Senator saying in confidence that the Governor has to learn that there are THREE co-equal branches of government.

Governor LePage's budget reading more like a memo from the CEO, is a thinly disguised plan to gut the pension system, and destroy the pensions of all future retirees is so bad he is using it as a club to force early retirements this year. "If you don't want to live under what I am going to do to you, you better get out by the end of the year". The plan rather than save money will cause older higher paid employees to stay on for years during which they would have been replaced by newer, lower paid employees.
Another proof of the nature of this attack is that while the governor says this will be a temporary situation, that we can fix this, his attack on retirees is intended to be permanent.

After complaining that State Employees were over paid, and then complaining that he could not hire commissioners because the pay was too low, he now proposes to freeze all raises for at least two years and six years for retirees. Funny how supposedly ex-Correction Corp employees found commissioner of correction jobs in several states to be just fine.
This is not an attempt to deal with the budget, as it is a plan to bloody Unions for the benefit of corporate cronies.

By blaming State Employees and attacking their pensions, he avoids making tough decisions that might require critical thinking. For decades, Maine has respected the right of workers to bargain for wages, benefits, and retirement security. The governor wrong to blame public employees and teachers for the budget problems, he is using a false excuse to reach into their retirement years, cut their current pay and benefits while handing tax breaks to corporations and handing the bill to the State cops and the plow truck drivers.

If LePage succeeds in his strategy the legislature can just go home, he will be ruling by executive order. If he gets his way this will only be the first bite at the apple, there are billions in the pension fund and make no mistake, if he can grab it all and hand it to the likes of the Correction Corp. of America to outsource prisons, he will. His commissioner of corrections, a so called former employee of CCA might think it is a good idea too. .

The claim in Maine, in Wisconsin, and nationally, is that things are so bad that public employees must take a hit, but never the corporations, the banks, or the richest Americans..

The hit Walker hatched ignores the harm these cuts will bring to Maine. By creating further economic instability among our retirees, by guaranteeing as they get older their incomes will steadily drop, not even stay even he is ignoring economic science in the name of a political pay back agenda.

This is just an opening salvo on workers’ rights in Maine, next comes not the Department of Labor, but the Department of Employers, the right to work legislation proposed is a step in that direction. Maine cannot be "open for business" unless business can hire the best employees. Industries cannot hire the best employees. Once the State is known for hostile employee relations, employees will not want to move here.  

Despite concerns by even some conservatives, LePage is trying to ram through a Majority budget requiring only Republican support. The word is that the Republicans don't want to take all the blame for this as they know it will revitalize tens of thousands of retirees and employees with one goal; Elect Democrats. There will be some changes, as the legislature is not taking well to being treated like an at will employee in a right to work State.

The governor not only hates State employees, he fears their knowledge. They know where the waste is, and he fears those dirty secrets becoming known. That is part of the reason his budget that does not reach out to engage State Employees, does not offer to  discuss any concessions that State Employees may be willing to offer, the governor is wasting the knowledge and the resources of those that know State Government best and have the most motivation to help find a solution.

By ignoring over 60 years of honest bargaining in Maine, he willingly ignores every State retiree, and all current public employees, State cops, teachers, nurses, plow truck drivers and bridge repair, and nurses and food safety inspectors. These are our friends and neighbors; these are Mainers, they are not the problem, but they can be part of the solution.
A governor who seeks to rob steal the future from the retired, those who honestly earned their security, who placed their trust in Maine, is not acting as a "fiscal conservative." He is acting as a dictator.

For more information about the CCA, the many, many law suits, accusations, and huge profits you can read more at the California Correctional Peace Officers Association site.
Don’t miss this if you want to know where your tax dollars are headed when 600 out of state prisoners are housed in Milo.

Enter your Email

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Monday, February 14, 2011

Budget cuts , Short Update, Random snippets

I have not been posting, see the picture above, but the current situation in Maine and the country does not let me stay silent. Sorry about this short post, but from here on in I will try to give you some local new, links to interesting places, and of course as always a Union friendly spot.

With the new budget put out by Gov. LePage, almost all of the cuts he proposed are on the poor or on State Employees.
Governor LePage is also angering the legislature by ignoring even the leadership on the Republican side. Does he think the Maine legislators are Mardens store managers who have to take it or be fired?

Will the public approve his proposed cuts to the State Police, the State workforce, and his wholesale give away of Maine's clean air and water to corporate plunder? In this case some of the Tea Party may end up being strange allys once they figure out they have been had and that cutting the tax on motor vehicles while tossing the sick and the helpless in the new "dump anywhere" snow banks, is his plan, not fiscal responsibility.

You just might be surprised by the rationality and common issues many in the  Tea Party have with many on the Left. If they can ignore the tree hugging, I can ignore (happily) Sarah Palin. 

We have to listen to each other, after all without the Tea Party the whole bastardization of civil rights called the Patriot act would have passed easily.
Stay tuned for more on the Cat Food pension reform and the plan to put 600 violent criminals in Milo.

Enter your Email

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz