Tell Collins & King: COVID relief NOW!
On Nov. 18, the COVID-19 toll in our great nation passed 250,000 deaths and nearly 11.5 million infections. Nearly a half-million new cases have been detected since last weekend. Take action TODAY for COVID relief NOW!
The virus has killed 171 Mainers, including 24 this month alone. It has infected 9,519 Mainers, including about 45 workers represented by our union, plus a large number of others in our worksites, from prisoners at the Maine Correctional Center in Windham and the York County Jail in Alfred to students at Maine Maritime Academy in Castine.
Mainers are struggling to meet basic needs with winter approaching and no end in sight to the pandemic. Almost 81,000 Mainers don’t have enough food to eat. About 9,000 renters are behind on rent; 43,000 Mainers filed for Unemployment Insurance in the week ending Nov. 7. Nearly one of out three Mainers are struggling to pay household expenses, according to the Maine Center for Economic Policy.
The health and economic crises created by the pandemic are fueling state and local revenue shortfalls, threatening public services so many Mainers are counting on to get by. The State of Maine has projected a $1.4 billion revenue shortfall over the next three years. Maine cities and towns estimated their shortfall at $146 million this year alone. Yet the U.S. Senate has repeatedly failed vote on the COVID-relief legislation passed months ago by the U.S. House of Representatives. The Senate’s failure to pass COVID relief is inexcusable and must not be tolerated any longer. Demand they do their jobs today!
We can’t wait until 2021; we need action before year’s end. The U.S. Senate needs to do its job and immediately pass a COVID relief bill funding state and local services. Take action TODAY. Stay safe!
Dean Staffieri, President, MSEA-SEIU Local 1989
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“Today’s (Aug. 3) vote by the workers at Planned Parenthood is an extraordinary achievement. They organized their union election during the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s unprecedented; it speaks volumes to their commitment and dedication to the work they do,” said Allison Perkins, vice president of MSEA-SEIU Local 1989. “With face to face organizing limited, the workers at Planned Parenthood in Maine had to communicate with each other virtually through Zoom calls and shared messaging as they united for a voice at work. The workers at Planned Parenthood refused to let the pandemic interfere with their right to form a union. On behalf of all the members of MSEA, we congratulate the workers at Planned Parenthood on their union election and look forward to working together to advocate for each other and the services we all provide. Now more than ever, workers need a voice at work to ensure safe and healthy worksites, and respect for the work they do.” Story here.
The summer of 2019, workers at the statewide anti-poverty agency Preble Street voted overwhelmingly for a voice at work by forming a union with ours, MSEA-SEIU Local 1989. They elected coworkers to serve on their first bargaining team, Preble Street Workers United, and began negotiating with management over their wages, benefits and working conditions.
“We have seen so much happen in that time,” members of the Preble Street Workers United bargaining team said in a joint statement. “A pandemic has hit, a civil rights movement was reignited, a wellness center was opened and our resource center was abruptly dismantled. Through it all, we have been working hard to make improvements at work. It has been quite a journey! Over the past year we have filled out surveys, drafted proposals, met with management, had union cupcakes with our clients, had button and t-shirt days to show our unity, and stuck together to make changes at work.”
The hard work and determination of the Preble Street Workers United bargaining team has culminated with Preble Street workers ratifying their first union contract. They secured substantial gains on the issues that led them to unionize: Safety, quality services and respect for the work they do. Story here.
MSEA-SEIU Adjunct Faculty Member and Union Negotiating Team Member Camilla Lofving testifies in 2019 for pay equity for adjuncts.
Ten years after joining together as union members for a stronger voice at work, MSEA-SEIU members who work as adjunct professors for the Maine Community College System ratified a new contract providing them with a key victory they’ve been determined to secure since Day 1: Pay parity across all seven campuses by August of 2022. Story.
June 3, 2020
Dearest Brothers and Sisters,
The last week has been heartbreaking for our nation. The recent horrific murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor has laid bare, yet again, the pervasive brutality of racism in our nation. These senseless deaths are far too many, in a history that is too long of racism and violence in the United States of America. These great injustices come at the heels of rising violence targeting Asian communities, and at a time when communities of color are already being exposed to and dying at a disproportionate rate from the coronavirus.
These tragic events must strengthen our resolve to become an anti-racist organization. As a union of public workers, social service workers and advocates, we must ensure that government is used to strengthen our communities and ensure justice and equity in our society, not to oppress the historically marginalized. We must build a world where all can prosper and live without fear. We must stand in solidarity with our black, brown and Asian Pacific Islander brothers and sisters whose voices have been silenced for too long.
Standing in Solidarity is not enough. Our collective struggle to free society from racism is work for us all. There is work to be done in our worksites, communities, and within our union to tear down the structures of racism and build, in their place, true unity, justice, and equality. I am feeling heartsick with all that I am witnessing yet I am inspired by the overwhelming mobilization of people across our state and country who are demanding real change. If you are too, please join me in this fight; contact me at Dean.Staffieri@MSEASEIU.ORG.
Dean Staffieri, President, MSEA-SEIU Local 1989
MSEA-SEIU members who work for the Maine People’s Alliance, Maine’s largest community action organization in Maine, on June 3 ratified a new three-and-a-half year contract. It addresses key issues they identified in their worksites. Key gains include increasing the salaried floor from $30,000 to $36,000, increasing the hourly pay floor from $14 to $17, and adding five new holidays: the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Story.
Take action today to build on the efforts of state workers who’ve been speaking up over the last year about health and safety concerns such as asbestos, lead and mold in state buildings. We all know the problem: The State of Maine is filled with older buildings that have for many years been in decline. It’s past time for solutions. Tell your legislators:
- No one should be forced to work in sick buildings with asbestos, lead or mold. Yet for years that’s been the reality for scores of State of Maine workers.
- Support LD 1969, An Act to Protect State Workers from Exposure to Carcinogens, sponsored by Representative Thom Harnett, and fund the ongoing investments in the Supplemental Budget.
- LD 1969 would identify and catalog problem buildings and related testing. It would create new standards relating to contaminants and improve testing requirements. It would improve the ability of workers to raise and resolve safety concerns.
Dean Staffieri, President, MSEA-SEIU Local 1989
State Representative Mike Sylvester on January 29 introduces LD 1959, An Act To Include within the Definition of “Public Employee” Those Who Have Been Employed Less than 6 Months. We support LD 1959 for equitable treatment for all of Maine’s public workers. Read our testimony in support of LD 1959 here.
Detail of the danger sign posted on an entrance to Camp Keyes, Augusta, as seen Jan. 9, 2020.
At our request, Representative Harnett is sponsoring LD 1969, An Act to Protect State Workers from Exposure to Carcinogens. The Committee on State and Local Government will hold a hearing on LD 1969 at 10 a.m. Jan. 22 in Cross Office Building Room 214. LD 1969 would identify and catalog problem buildings and related testing. It would create new standards relating to contaminant levels and improve testing requirements. It would improve the ability of workers to raise and resolve safety concerns. Story.
After working over 20 years for Maine DOT, former MSEA-SEIU member Randy Bodge was denied disability retirement from the Maine Public Employees Retirement System even though he provided documentation of his stage-four cancer diagnosis in 2013. He’s supporting LD 1978 reforming the disability-retirement process. The Committee on Labor and Housing will hold a hearing on LD 1978 at 2 p.m. Jan. 29 in Cross Office Building Room 202. Story.
Retiree COLA protected: LD 1104, the legislation protecting the MainePERS retiree cost of living adjustment (COLA), has become law. Sponsored by Representative Michelle Dunphy, LD 1104 protects the retiree COLA in statute. This victory, won by hundreds of MSEA-SEIU members and allies who spoke with their legislators and the Governor, will go a long way toward helping current and future retirees keep up with the cost of living. Please thank the legislative leaders instrumental in making LD 1104 become law. Email them using this link. Click here for the full story on our two retirement-security victories and info on the three retirement-security proposals we’re supporting this short legislative session.
Members at Green Valley Association ratify new contract
Congratulations to MSEA-SEIU members at Green Valley Association on ratifying their new contract. It provides a path to enhance recruitment by improving scheduling and committing to two pay raises this year.
Check out our 2019 Legislative Scorecard for the 129th Maine Legislature shown below to see whether your State Senator and State Rep voted for or against MSEA and workers on key issues we tracked.