May 13 --
Statement by MSEA-SEIU President Ginette Rivard
on attempts to negotiate with the LePage administration
over the impact a state shutdown would have
on public services and nearly 10,000 workers:
This morning, members of the negotiating team
representing nearly 10,000 State of Maine workers met with management
to discuss the impact that a government shutdown would have
on them and quality public services. The union team requested
this meeting under state law after members raised repeated concerns,
and after receiving a credible report that state agencies were
directed to prepare for a state shutdown beginning July 1 that
was described as "inevitable."
As members of the Maine State Employees Association,
Local 1989 of the Service Employees International Union, we
endured a state government shutdown in 1991, so we know the
harm it caused. We know what it's like for Maine people to be
denied the public services they are counting on. We also know
what it's like to go weeks without a paycheck during a state
shutdown. We stand by the credible reports we cited from members
about agencies planning for a shutdown.
Our members told the truth in requesting a meeting
with management to discuss the impact a shutdown would have
on them. Yet minutes into this morning's meeting, Gov. LePage
disrespected members of our union negotiating team and said
that if the Legislature doesn't approve his budget, "then you
have a problem." Gov. LePage and his management team further
refused to negotiate this morning with members of our union
over the impact of a shutdown. His chief negotiator said management's
refusal to negotiate would continue until a shutdown decision
We all know that the Governor's proposed budget
puts Maine's communities and Maine's working families at risk.
His proposed budget has been overwhelmingly rejected by nearly
everyone in the state, including members of his own party and
Maine communities. It is disappointing that Gov. LePage seems
so willing to force a state shutdown to force his proposed budget
on Maine's communities and working families.
Credible reports that the
LePage administration has directed state agencies to prepare
for a shutdown
Last week, we received credible
reports that the LePage administration has directed state agencies
to prepare for a shutdown of Maine State Government on July
1, 2013. The administration said the shutdown was, in their
words, "inevitable." In response, our union formally asked the
administration to meet with us to bargain over the impact a
state shutdown would have on workers in affected bargaining
units. We have the right, under the law, to impact bargaining
in this instance.
In addition to demanding impact
bargaining, we also asked the administration, under the State
Employee Labor Relations Act and the Maine Freedom of Access
Act, for relevant documents that state agencies or the administration
prepared or received relating to a potential state shutdown.
Those documents are to include any plans or planning documents,
including cost savings or projections.
Our requests appear in our letter
to Breena Whitcomb, the State's chief negotiator. Read
our letter here.
Read related press coverage
To be clear: we don't want a
shutdown. However, since the administration appears to be moving
in that direction, we need to bargain with them over what that
will mean to you and your families. You have the right to know
what will happen, and that your employer is taking every step
to protect your rights and your livelihood. Everyone, including
the LePage administration, should be doing everything in their
power to make sure you can continue to serve the public. A shutdown
will hurt the public, the economy and thousands of state workers.
Let's be equally clear that
Maine cannot accept the Governor's proposed budget. It will
force communities to raise property taxes, slash the safety
net and take $12 million out of your pockets through cuts to
the health plan, freezes to merit and longevity pay, and other
measures. State legislators can prevent the administration from
shutting down state government by passing a two-year state budget
with a two-thirds majority.
So please call your State
Representative and State Senator TODAY. Ask them to:
Fully fund the State
Employee Health Plan;
Restore merit and longevity
pay for State of Maine workers;
Pass a fair share budget
solution ensuring all Mainers, including the wealthy,
pay their fair share.
the contact information for your state legislators here.
Be sure to call your legislators
TODAY. Together, we can advocate for a responsible state budget
as we hold the administration accountable to its legal responsibility
to bargain over the impact a shutdown would have on our members.
We will keep you posted on new developments.
Charley Richardson teaching
at class at a NNEC-SEIU Summer Labor Studies Institute in Castine,
Remembering Charley Richardson
We mourn the death of Charley
Richardson, a lifelong peace and labor activist who worked closely
with members of our union for many years. From his work with our
members at the MSEA-SEIU Labor-Management Training Summits, NNEC-SEIU
Summer Labor Studies Institutes, Maine AFL-CIO Labor Institutes
and elsewhere, Charley helped our members strengthen their skills
to advocate forcefully and effectively for their coworkers, the
rights of all workers and the quality public services our members
provide to all Maine people. Charley understood the importance
of workers speaking with a united voice, and he has helped make
our voice heard. His voice will always be among ours.
A message from Nancy Lessin,
"Yesterday evening, May 4th, Charley passed
away very peacefully, surrounded by family. Raise a glass of your
chosen beverage in a toast to a wonderful and amazing man who
has touched so many lives and done immeasurable good in this world.
I shall love him beyond eternity; our family will miss him deeply.
We will, together with all of you, carry on his legacy of making
a better world - now, and for the generations to come. We will
be planning a celebration of Charley's life to take place sometime
in the next few months in the Boston area. Information about the
celebration will be posted on this site. Please feel free to continue
to post thoughts and pictures here, as well as send something
to include in a book for Charley's grandchildren about their grandfather
(including who you are, how and where your paths crossed, something
you remember about Charley and/or what he meant to you; send to
my personal email address nlessin @ att.net). Please do not send
flowers, but instead consider a contribution to any of these organizations
below that Charley selected. Thank you all for your love and support."
- Nancy Lessin
Steelworkers' Humanity Fund - http://www.usw.ca/union/humanity/donate
Labor Notes - http://www.labornotes.org/donate
Iraq Veterans Against the War - http://IVAW.org/support
U.S. Labor Against the War - http://www.uslaboragainstwar.org/donatehere
MSEA Calls for Independent Review of LePage Attempts to Politicize
Unemployment Appeals Process.
(Click for press
support for restoring merit and longevity pay! Sign and send
in your letters to your state legislators RIGHT NOW!
Our determined effort to persuade state legislators to restore
merit and longevity pay is gaining bipartisan support.
On April 8, members of the State
and Local Government Committee voted unanimously to restore
merit pay. All but one committee member voted to restore longevity
pay. While additional votes in the Legislature will need to
be taken before merit and longevity pay is restored, these committee
votes show that legislators from both parties are listening
That is why we need your help
RIGHT NOW: If you haven't already signed and mailed back to
us the letter we sent you urging your State Senator and your
State Representative to restore merit/longevity and to fully
fund the State Employee Health Plan, please do so immediately.
That way, we can personally deliver the letter to your legislators.
Again, sign and mail back to
us the letter we sent you urging your State Senator and State
Representative to restore merit/longevity and to fully fund
the State Employee Health Plan. The return postage is paid for
you! Together, we can get merit and longevity pay restored,
and the State Employee Health Plan fully funded.
by MSEA-SEIU President Ginette Rivard on reports of Governor LePage
pressuring Maine hearing officers into denying Unemployment Insurance
benefits to Maine workers and instead ruling in favor of Maine employers
regardless of the facts of a case:
"Throughout Maine State Government,
members of my union perform their jobs with the highest level
of transparency and accountability. We represent many state
workers whose jobs are to follow applicable state and federal
laws, and to render decisions accordingly. We are proud to represent
the hearing officers who apply federal laws in resolving Unemployment
Insurance claims in Maine. They have a duty to do their jobs
free of intimidation and coercion. We are determined to ensure
that their rights are protected and respected."
MSEA-SEIU members urge legislators:
Fully Fund the State Employee Health Plan!
2, MSEA-SEIU member Ramona
Welton, who is a Labor member of the State
Employee Health Commission, and many other workers testified
before the Appropriations Committee to urge legislators to fully
fund the State Employee Health Plan and to reject the Governor's
budget proposal known as Part H, which would "flat fund"
the Health Plan for two more years. "This cost shifting
on healthcare comes with a real price to quality public services,"
Ramona explained to legislators. "The State of Maine is
now struggling to find qualified employees to do the public's
work. The State's Finance Commissioner, Sawin Milllett, last
month publicly acknowledged this problem exists. Yet rather
than address the problem, the LePage administration's proposed
budget would worsen it by continuing to flat fund the health
Ramona said, "The recurring shifting of healthcare costs
onto employees also comes with a real price to the employees.
Their healthcare and the healthcare for their families has become
more and more expensive as they struggle to keep up with the
rising cost of living. So, flat funding is actually a pay cut
to thousands of workers. In fact, the Governor's proposal for
the upcoming two-year state budget would create an $8 million
funding gap in the State Employee Health Plan for the first
year of the upcoming biennium, and we anticipate the gap will
be millions more in the following year. It doesn't have to be
this way. It's time to take action to address the State of Maine's
employee recruitment and retention problem. Fully funding the
State Employee Health Plan is an essential first step."
MSEA-SEIU member Deb
Thomas told Committee members: "I am
disappointed with the disregard the State of Maine has been
showing its workforce and all Maine people. It's time for you
to do right thing by the state workers. More workers are needed
to do the public's work. The State of Maine has already acknowledged
it has a serious recruitment and retention problem. It is time
to take action by fully funding the State Employee Health Plan."
MSEA-SEIU members urge legislators:
MSEA-SEIU member Peter Grant tells legislators
March 22 about the
revolving door of workers at Riverview Psychiatric Center
after years of cuts to the wages and benefits of state workers.
Peter is shown displaying a copy of a comprehensive Labor
Market Survey that the Maine Department
of Administrative & Financial Services commissioned in 2008
from Crescendo Consulting of Portland, Maine. The Labor Market
Survey, which compares the wages of state workers to over 250
Maine companies, as well as over 100 municipalities and counties,
shows that nearly across the board, state workers are paid hourly
wages that are less than their private sector counterparts for
comparable work. Peter provided copies of the Labor Market Survey
to members of the Appropriations and State & Local Government
Commtitees. In all, over a dozen MSEA-SEIU members testified
March 22 in support of restoring merit/longevity in the next
two-year state budget.
the Desk of President Ginette Rivard
here for President Rivard's column:
never been a good bet to vote against Maine workers"
25, Bangor: Spectacular Event;
26: Presque Isle: Hampton Inn;
2: Portland: Clarion Hotel;
9: Augusta Civic Center.
June 3, 10 a.m.,
Board Room, MSEA-SEIU HQ;
Sept. 9, 8 a.m.,
annual meeting, lunch at noon, Calumet Club, 334 West River
Oct. 7, 10 a.m.,
Board Room, MSEA-SEIU HQ;
Nov. 4, 10 a.m.,
Board Room, MSEA-SEIU HQ;
Dec. 2, 10 a.m.,
lunch at noon follwed by yankee gift swap, Board Room, MSEA-SEIU