Executive Branch bargaining —
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On March 22, we sent out a new bargaining update to members’ home email addresses. If you didn’t receive the bargaining update, that means we probably don’t have your home email address. To receive future bargaining updates, please provide us with your home email address using this official MSEA-SEIU link on our website.
Your Bargaining Team:
- Ramona Welton, MSEA-SEIU President
- Dean Staffieri, MSEA-SEIU Vice President
- Administrative Services Bargaining Unit: Tracy Bonnevie, Cindy Proulx and Debra Stowe
- Operations, Maintenance and Support Services Bargaining Unit: Glenn Jalbert, Shawn Kelley and Dean Levasseur
- Supervisory Services Bargaining Unit: Dave Projansky, Maureen Sullivan and Charles “Chuck” Dame
- Professional-Technical Services Bargaining Unit: Andrea LaPointe, Tom Maher and Michael McCormick
Respect the will of Maine voters, MSEA-SEIU retiree Jim Betts urges legislators
Statement to the Taxation Committee opposing LDs 291, 337, 571, 829 and 851 on 3/20/17
Senator Dow, Representative Tipping, and members of the Taxation Committee, My name is Jim Betts. I’m a retired state employee with the Department of Labor, a property taxpayer living in Winthrop, and a veteran. I urge you to oppose LDs 291, 337, 571, 829 and 851.
All of these legislative proposals undermine the will of Maine people. On Nov. 8, 2016, Maine people voted in a 3 percent surcharge on incomes over and above $200,000. It’s deeply troubling that some legislators think they can continue ignoring the will of Maine voters for yet another state budget cycle. Voters knew their schools were not being funded fully by the state and that they were picking up the tab in the form of property tax increases, and voters understood clearly the question and its results, to suggest otherwise is disrespectful to Maine voters.
Maine people enacted the surcharge so all Maine children, regardless of ZIP code, can have access to a solid public education. The state’s failure to fund education at 55 percent for the past 12 years as required by law has made it difficult for Maine students to gain the education they need to compete for tomorrow’s jobs, and pushed more and more costs of running public schools onto property taxpayers like my wife, Martha, and me. We support our schools – our children and grandchildren are or were educated in the public schools. We voted for the surcharge because the state’s failure to fund public education at 55 percent has forced our hometown of Winthrop, along with most communities in Maine, to make difficult choices: Cut school programs or services, or raise property taxes?
Personally, I have been able to offset these pressures the last year and a half by working part-time as a carpenter, but my asthma and rheumatoid arthritis are making it hard to continue and, my wife, a former employee of the Maine CDC, suffers from multiple sclerosis. She cannot compensate for these proposals before you today. All of the proposals would revert Maine back to the failed system of relying on property taxes to fund public education.
Maine voters had no choice but to take it upon themselves to come up with a mechanism to get the state to fund public education at 55 percent. Please respect the will of Maine voters by opposing these legislative proposals. Please do it for our children, our families, local businesses, and our elderly struggling to pay their property taxes. Thank you.
Maine workers, retirees urge Maine Legislature’s Appropriations Committee to oppose Part HH of LD 390
MSEA-SEIU retiree member Andy Vellani: “I really hate to say this, but here we are again. Another attempt by this administration to take away something that retirees have worked so hard to earn. This is getting old. I’m getting old…er. We shouldn’t have to continually fight year after year to help us keep pace with the cost of living. This administration’s attitude and actions against retirees does not promote progress and economic security, but produces stagnation and atrophy in our economic health which affects the entire Maine community.”
On March 8, MSEA-SEIU members urged the Maine Legislature’s Appropriations Committee to oppose Part HH of LD 390, the Governor’s proposal to freeze for two years the cost of living adjustment (COLA) to the pensions of retired state workers and teachers.
We reminded the committee members that the 125th Maine Legislature imposed enormous pension cuts July 1, 2011. Those cuts included: increasing the retirement age to 65 to state workers and retired teachers who had less than five years of service as of July 1, 2011; freezing cost of living adjustments (COLAs) to retiree pensions for three years (2011, 2012 and 2013); and the capping cost of living adjustment (COLA) to retiree pensions at up to 3 percent, based on the cost of living adjustment, of the first $20,000 of pension income.
Retired state workers and teachers haven’t been able to catch up with the cost of living since then. The proposal to freeze the retiree COLA for two more years would make it even harder for retirees to keep up with the cost of living. It’s unconscionable that anyone would even consider causing this level of harm to retirees.
There is no funding crisis in Maine State Government. In fact, in the Supplemental Budget approved by the Maine Legislature last month, the Legislature added $35 million to the state’s Rainy Day Fund. Freezing the cost of living adjustment for two more years would be just plain wrong.
Bangor Daily News editorial —
“Among the 500 state employee positions LePage has put on the chopping block in his budget proposal, for example, 11 would come from the state’s public health nursing program, which the LePage administration has already decimated in recent years by leaving more than half of its budgeted positions unfilled.
“Maine’s public health nurses used to be a critical component of the state’s efforts to prevent infant deaths and ensure that infants got off to a healthy start in life. Public health nurses would commonly visit new mothers and their babies at home, monitor newborns and mothers for potential health problems, help new mothers become accustomed to breastfeeding, and address any breastfeeding-related issues.
“As of January, however, only 23 of the program’s 48 budgeted positions were filled, according to the Legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal and Program Review — and the nurses remaining in the field were spending more of their time with adult patients, particularly high-cost Medicaid patients.”
The excerpt below is from Maine Chief Justice Leigh Saufley’s State of the Judiciary Address to the 128th Maine Legislature:
Clerks and Marshals
First, as you may have heard me mention before, Maine’s trial judges are among the lowest paid judges in the nation.
But even more distressing is the fact that the pay scales of marshals, clerks, and others in the Judicial Branch have not remained competitive either with other law enforcement agencies or with what the staff can make working other public sector jobs or the private sector. We no sooner train new clerks and marshals than we lose them to other employers.
Yet the clerks and the marshals are the unsung heroes of the Maine Courts.
You may have noticed that I did not begin today’s presentation with my usual request for more marshal positions to help us reach 100% entry screening. That is because the compensation situation is so bad that we struggle just to fill the existing marshal positions.
We must adjust the compensation of court staff. Our recently completed salary study confirmed that we have fallen significantly below market averages. Ted Glessner will shortly be discussing this problem with the Appropriations Committee. This is important. We need to act quickly to make Judicial Branch wages more competitive in order to attract and retain good employees.
“We’re feeling very good about what happened today, and I think this is a victory for all in the middle class today,” said Bill McQuillen, director of the Professional Firefighters of New Hampshire. Full story.
Editorial in the Portland Press Herald, Kennebec Journal and Central Maine Morning Sentinel, Feb. 9:
“There were 417,132 people who went to the polls in November and said ‘yes’ to raising the minimum wage, the highest vote total for any referendum in Maine history. It was also 122,599 votes more than Gov. LePage got the last time he ran for election. Despite what the governor says, Maine is a democracy and the people have spoken. Now it’s time for their representatives to get to work.”
“Democrats have argued for decades that increasing wages among people who spend every cent they make stimulates growth more than letting rich people sock away money for their great-grandchildren. It is as unthinkable that Democrats would shy away from championing a minimum-wage hike as it would be for Republicans to be embarrassed about cutting the estate tax.” Read Greg’s full column here.
Attention MSEA-SEIU Members!
We rely on you to keep us apprised of any changes to your status, your position and your contact information. Accordingly, please contact MSEA-SEIU Systems/Database Administrator Lynn Warner at 622-3151 ext. 1131 or email@example.com to update us whenever the following information changes:
- YOUR CONTACT INFORMATION: Please let us know of any changes to your mailing address, your personal or work email addresses, or your home, cell or work phone numbers.
- YOUR POSITION: Please let us know of any changes to the number of hours you are regularly scheduled to work each week, your work location, or your position, including changes through promotion, demotion, transfer or reclassification.
- YOUR SEASONAL PAYROLL STATUS: If you are a permanent seasonal employee, please contact us to let us know when you go on or off payroll. Under our Constitution and Bylaws, permanent seasonal employees may maintain active member status while off payroll by paying dues at the retiree rate. This allows seasonal employees to continue to serve as chapter officers and delegates, to participate as delegates in our Annual Meeting, and to vote in contract ratification votes even while off-payroll. As of January 2017, the retiree dues rate is $5.05 per month. If you go off payroll, Lynn can help you make the payment arrangements necessary to maintain your active member status.
Thank you for your attention. It is your responsibility to provide us with accurate and up-to-date information. Failure to do so could affect your ability to participate in union matters, as well as your rights under your contract, Constitution and Bylaws.
Caring starts at home. It begins with each of us and spreads to our families, neighbors, coworkers and beyond. The responses by you and your fellow members to two separate tragedies involving a union brother and a union sister reflect the caring spirit that MSEA-SEIU membership is all about. Read President Welton’s column here.