Our Lives are On the Line:
Saturday, July 29
10:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Dufresne Plaza, 72 Lisbon St., Lewiston
Senate leaders are about to vote on an Obamacare repeal bill that could leave anywhere from 22 million to 32 million Americans without coverage and slash three-quarters of a trillion dollars from Medicaid. Oppose healthcare cuts! Make your voice heard! Our Lives are On the Line: Saturday, July 29, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Dufresne Plaza, 72 Lisbon St., Lewiston.
2018-2019 Biennial Budget impacts on our members and other key issues
Dear Sisters and Brothers:
Thank you for all your hard work throughout the entire legislative session; your testimony in support or in opposition of critical issues in the biennial budget and other key legislation did make a difference. Your activism in the days that lead up to the shutdown and throughout the shutdown itself made sure our voices were heard.
Below is a summary of the 2018-2019 Biennial Budget impacts on our members and other key issues.
In Solidarity, Ramona Welton, President, MSEA-SEIU Local 1989
• Retiree COLA: The Governor’s proposal to freeze the Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs) for retired state employees and educators was rejected by the Legislature. COLA-eligible retirees will receive COLAs this year and next year, subject to the Consumer Price Index determination.
• Jobs restored: In his original budget, Governor LePage proposed eliminating almost 500 positions; over half were filled. The final budget restored 7 laid off Long Creek educators, postponed the closure of Down East Correctional Facility for 1 year, keeping 11 MSEA members’ employed and giving closure authority to the Legislature, not the Governor; kept a number of positions in Department Of Labor – MSEA will continue to monitor ongoing position concerns at DOL; saved 4 State House security screener positions in Public Safety; protected OADS –DD caseworker positions, at least temporarily, pending caseload transfers to community providers. Restoring Public Health Nurse Positions and recalling laid off members to state park positions is still a work in progress.
• State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) for State Employees: State employees and other employees covered under the State Employee Health Plan were prohibited from enrolling their children
• Increases investment in Maine students, schools, and teachers and funds K-12 public education at $162 million. Department of Education School funding estimates for 2018 can be viewed by district by entering your district info into the following link. www.maine.gov/doe/eps/
• Rejects an elimination of the Homestead exemption for most families, as originally proposed in Administration budget.
• Direct Care Worker Investment: Secures $14.25m additional funding for the direct care workforce which serves seniors and Mainers with disabilities.
• Invests in higher education: Provides operational funding for the University of Maine, keeping tuition affordable and higher education accessible
• Supports job training: Funds the Maine Community College Systems Strategic Workforce Initiative at $10 million, designed to give Mainers the skills and training necessary for immediate employment.
• Protects vital services: Rejects damaging cuts to Public Health Nurses and MaineCare.
• Protects investment in Head Start: Giving more young Mainers an opportunity to thrive as children, and later as productive adults.
• Improves disability services: Doubles the number of hours for Mainers who can receive services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities under the Section 29 waiver.
• Funds Rural Hospitals: Rejects cuts to reimbursement rates for Critical Access Hospitals who serve most of Maine’s uninsured throughout the state. This ensures that Critical Access Hospitals will continue to be reimbursed at a higher rate for the work they do and the people they serve.
Eliminated in the Budget
• The 3% surcharge on incomes in access of $200,000: Approved by voters last November (Question #2), was not included in the final budget. Question #2 was supported by MSEA, so the failure to include it in the final budget was disappointing.
• The HHS Medical Review Team; Eliminated in the budget by privatizing the work by next June.
• Pension Tax Exemption: Pension tax exemption increases were proposed in the budget and also in legislation, but was not included in the final budget. The pension tax exemption remains at $10,000.
Direct Link to the budget. Fiscal Years Ending June 30, 2018 and June 30, 2019 https://legislature.maine.gov/legis/bills/getPDF.asp?paper=HP0281&item=57&snum=128
I want to express my gratitude; to Senate President Thibodeau and The Senate Republican Caucus, Speaker Sara Gideon and The House Democratic Caucus, Senate Democratic Leader Troy Jackson and The Senate Democratic Caucus for the open lines of communication and willingness to talk to our members and staff during this entire budget process. Your leadership during the budget process and during the shutdown was reassuring for our members. Your commitment to state workers and the services they provide is clear. Taking the time to talk to our members in the halls of the state and inviting them into your offices helped ease tensions during the shutdown.
Ramona Welton, President, MSEA-SEIU Local 1989
State Shutdown Day 2: State workers attempt to file contract grievance over shutdown; Governor’s office refuses to accept grievance letter
State workers represented by our union attempted to file a class-action grievance with the Governor’s office over the Governor’s failure to give State employees their contractually required notice of layoff in advance of the July 1, 2017, state government shutdown. The Governor’s office refused to accept the grievance. A man who answered the door at the Governor’s office said no one present was authorized to accept the grievance letter.
“So we attempted to file this letter with the Governor’s office,” MSEA-SEIU President Ramona Welton said. “We’re here on a Sunday representing all state employees. The Governor’s office, while there are people in the office, appears not to be open for the State of Maine. Come and join us tomorrow. We’ll be back.”
Under the collective bargaining agreements covering thousands of MSEA-SEIU-represented employees, the State is required to give notice of layoff 10 workdays in advance of the layoff date, but it failed to do so in advance of the state government shutdown. In recent years, when the State has temporarily laid off employees in federally funded positions due to federal government shutdowns, it has given the contractually required notice.
“State politicians, including the Governor, have been talking about the likelihood of a shutdown for weeks, if not months,” said Tom Feeley, the union’s general counsel. “This shutdown was entirely foreseeable, and there is no reason the Governor couldn’t have complied with his contractual obligation to give notice of layoff. As the State failed to give the 10-day notice of layoff, the State is liable for wages and benefits for the first ten workdays of the shutdown.”
State Shutdown Day 2: Pass a fair budget, end the shutdown!
Shutdown Day 2: On Sunday, July 2, MSEA-SEIU members, their families, and other Maine workers gathered at the State House to thank those legislative leaders and legislators, including Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, who voted June 30 for the budget compromise. We met with Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon (top photo) to thank her for her leadership. Then we walked over to the Maine Senate (bottom photo) and thanked the senators who voted 34-1 on June 30 for the compromise budget. We urged all of them to continue their work to pass a fair budget and end the state shutdown.
State Shutdown Day 1 — Workers: Let ME Work!
July 1 — MSEA-SEIU members, family and others converged on the State House on State Shutdown Day 1. We marched from Capitol Park to the Blaine House and the State House, demanding those elected to represent us work to pass a fair budget compromise. Inside the State House, we lined the halls with purple. We thanked those legislators who voted June 30 for the budget compromise. We called out those legislators who voted to shut down Maine State Government.
MSEA-SEIU members and other Mainers converged on the State House June 30 to push for passage of the compromise budget. Because the budget compromise wasn’t enacted Friday, Maine State Government is now shut down.
June 30: Maine is watching.
June 23: State workers call on state legislators: Pass a budget that prevents a state shutdown, provides the services Maine people count on, and ensures the revenues for public education and public services
June 23 – Speaking as private citizens, state workers in Augusta today called on state legislators to pass a state budget that prevents a state shutdown, provides the public services Maine people count on, and ensures the revenues for public education and public services.
“I am a child protective supervisor for the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. I work with the state’s permanency caseworkers. Their job is to make sure the 1,774 Maine children who are in state custody as of this week are safe,” said Dean Staffieri, vice president of the Maine State Employees Association, Local 1989 of the Service Employees International Union. “So when we as state workers, at state agencies, have our doors closed, whether it’s a scheduled furlough day or, heaven forbid, a state shutdown, it’s extraordinarily disruptive to the people who are counting on us the most – the children. Add in the scores of vacancies from state positions intentionally left unfilled – there currently are seven caseworker vacancies in the Lewiston DHHS office alone – and it becomes increasingly difficult for us to do our jobs.”
Staffieri added, “If the state government shuts down on July 1, lives are at risk. If there’s a contingency plan, the state hasn’t shared it with me or my caseworkers. I don’t know if they will be deemed emergency workers and ordered to work without pay, or if they will be ordered to stay home without pay, or even if there will be a skeleton crew.”
“All Maine people, regardless of political party, are better than this,” said Anne D’Alonzo, one of seven educators recently laid off at the A.R. Gould School within Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland. “Since my layoff (on June 9), I have continued to advocate for the students. I spent four days at the State House last week talking with state legislators. I explained to them that no one in any Maine community would risk their school’s accreditation by eliminating half their teaching staff, yet here the State of Maine is, doing it to Maine’s most vulnerable youths while they are in state custody. Please join me in telling our state legislators: It’s time to take care of each other. Tell them to restore the cut positions at the A.R. Gould School. Tell them to pass a state budget that provides the services all our kids are counting on to make it in this world. Tell them to do it by June 30 to prevent a state shutdown.”
Jonathan French, a licensed civil engineer for the Maine Department of Transportation, said he is concerned a state shutdown would interfere with highway projects he is working on.
“I don’t want to see another state shutdown unfold again. I would much rather be working, delivering quality service to the citizens of the State of Maine and being able to support my family,” French said. “There is much work to be done. I am currently working on the design and plan preparation for multiple projects in various parts of the state such as a multilane roundabout at the University of Maine in Orono; a three-mile reconstruction project on Route 2 in Dixfield; and a diverging diamond interchange of I-95 and Hogan Road in Bangor. Each of these projects has its own schedule that needs to be met in order for the project to be advertised to private contractors on time and a state shutdown would make it difficult to keep these projects moving forward.”
Jane Gilbert served as labor relations director for the Maine DOT during the 1991 shutdown. “I can tell you, back then, ALL state highway and bridge projects ground to a halt. Contractors weren’t allowed to work; the DOT had no one to monitor them. So private contractors laid off their workers –in the middle of the summer construction season. It was a big mess,” Gilbert said.
“The shutdown was a double-whammy for state workers. They were locked out of their jobs, without pay. Because the state was shut down, they didn’t even get paid on schedule for their time worked in June. The State didn’t have authority to sign paychecks, let alone sign checks to state contractors and vendors,” said Gilbert. “Now, 26 years later, we are on the brink of shutting down state government again, even though state revenues are strong. There’s no fiscal crisis. There’s no revenue shortfall. It’s a false choice to sacrifice quality services for all Maine people for the sake of tax breaks for the wealthiest among us. That’s why I’m calling on all state legislators to pass a budget that provides the services we all count on – and prevents another shutdown.”
Steve Butterfield, director of information services for the Maine State Employees Association, SEIU Local 1989, presented financial data depicting the lost wages of all MSEA-SEIU represented workers in Maine State Government should there be a state shutdown.
“The most impacted county is Kennebec, where workers in MSEA bargaining units earn $539,525 in daily wages. Those daily wages, because of the multiplier effect, translate into a daily economic impact of $944,169 in Kennebec County. That’s nearly a million dollars per day of economic activity because they spend their money locally and it circulates in the local economy. If state government shuts down, those dollars don’t circulate in the local economy,” Butterfield said. “Statewide, all of the state government workers that MSEA represents earn just under $1.5 million per workday. Those wages then translate into over $2.5 million of economic impact per day.”
Executive Branch bargaining —
Curious about bargaining? Sign up for updates!
On July 19, 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.
In Solidarity, Your Bargaining Team
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Members of our union have gone through several turbulent months working to reduce the harm the Governor’s proposed state budget would cause Maine people. Your coworkers, retirees, staff and allies have been testifying before legislative committees and asking their state senators and state representatives to reject the Governor’s bad budget. Together, we have been asking legislators to start with the current baseline budget and build from there. There is still a lot of work to be done. Each of us has a role in making sure the Legislature passes a responsible state budget. Read President Welton’s column here.