Retiree Members Phil Garwood, Rob Peale and MSEA-SEIU Retiree Director Steve Butterfield lobbied legislators in March in support of the pension relief legislation enacted into law via the 2022 Bipartisan State Budget. Story.
In April, the Legislature passed the 2022 Bipartisan State Budget and Governor Janet Mills signed it into law the following day. The budget earned unanimous support in the Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee; it delivers targeted relief to Mainers, including the $850 relief checks, and invests in workforce training, education and child care, and funding for nursing homes, hospitals, and long-term care. The budget makes key improvements to MainePERS retirement pensions. It increased the 2021 cumulative cost of living adjustment (COLA) by an additional 1% and added an additional 2.4% to the pension base, both for participants in the State/Teacher/Legislative/Judicial Retirement Plan. Story.
MSEA-SEIU members and family in our City of Auburn bargaining unit attended the Auburn Council meeting Aug. 1 to demand pay raises that reflect their work. They have since ratified a one-year contract that includes: a 2% cost of living adjustment retroactive to 7/1/2022; a 1% performance increase retroactive to 7/1/2022; a $1,500 one-time inflation offset bonus on 12/1/2022; Check our Representational Services Roundup for the latest developments on our Auburn bargaining uni, the ACLU, Child Development Services, the City of Lewiston, Lewiston Schools, State of Maine Executive Branch, Maine Maritime Academy, Independence Advocates of Maine, Preble Street, Sexual Assault Support Services of Midocast Maine (SASSMM) and Speak About It.
MSEA-SEIU delegates vote at our 2021 Annual Meeting. Our 2022 Annual Meeting takes place Oct. 14-15 at the Samoset in Rockport.
2022 MSEA-SEIU Annual Meeting preview:
Check our Legislative Scorecard for the 130th Maine Legislature to see if your state senator and state representative voted for or against MSEA and workers. During the 2021-2022 Maine Legislature, we tracked every state legislator’s votes on key issues impacting Maine workers. Based on their votes, we scored them. The higher the percentage score, the more they voted pro-MSEA and pro-worker. The lower the percentage score, they more they voted against MSEA and workers. Some legislators scored a perfect 100%. Others voted against MSEA and workers at every turn. See how your legislators voted and hold them accountable in the Nov. 8, 2022, General Elections.
Maine workers endorse Governor Janet Mills for reelection
The choice between Governor Janet Mills and former Governor Paul LePage on Nov. 8 is clear; Governor Mills has earned a second term
Citing her record on essential services, workers’ wages, retirement security and seniors, affordable healthcare, workers’ rights and the COVID-19 pandemic, members of the Maine Service Employees Association, Local 1989 of the Service Employees International Union, endorsed Governor Janet Mills for reelection in the Nov. 8, 2022, General Elections.
During LePage’s governorship, essential services like 911 dispatching, Maine DOT plowing and adequate staffing for our state psychiatric hospitals were constantly at risk due to state workers being underpaid and understaffed.
“Over LePage’s eight years in office, state workers received pay raises averaging 1.25% a year; our pay raises over Governor Mills’s four years averaged 3.25% a year,” said Brian Markey of Kenduskeag, president of the MSEA-SEIU Penobscot Chapter and an assistant technician for the Maine Department of Transportation. “And unlike LePage, Governor Mills never imposed merit and longevity pay freezes, or hiring freezes.”
Limited waiver provides way to get you closer to loan forgiveness but the opportunity ends Oct. 31, 2022
Many state and federal workers, local government workers and workers at nonprofit organizations have pursued careers in public service after an expensive college education, while many more are going to school while working full time. For those still working to pay off the student loans that helped finance your education, you could be eligible for relief from the federal government: A “forgiveness” of the balance of your loans after you’ve made 120 payments. According to the Federal Student Aid website, if you are employed by a U.S. federal, state, local, or tribal government or not-for-profit organization, you might be eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF). The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program allows qualifying federal student loans to be forgiven after 120 qualifying payments (10 years), while working for a qualifying public service employer. Important! A PSLF waiver offers a way to get closer to loan forgiveness. An Oct. 31, 2022, deadline approaches! The “limited PSLF waiver” refers to the time-limited changes to Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program rules that allow borrowers to receive credit for past periods of repayment that would otherwise not qualify for PSLF. However, this opportunity ends on Oct. 31, 2022. So, be sure to act now and use the links above to see if this opportunity applies to you.
President Biden’s student debt relief initiative
In addition to the existing Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, President Biden in August announced a three-part plan for up to $20,000 in debt cancellation to Pell Grant recipients with loans held by the Department of Education, and up to $10,000 in debt cancellation to non-Pell Grant recipients. Borrowers are eligible for this relief if their individual income is less than $125,000 ($250,000 for married couples). No high-income individual or high-income household – in the top 5% of incomes – will benefit from this action. To ensure a smooth transition to repayment and prevent unnecessary defaults, the pause on federal student loan repayment will be extended one final time through December 31, 2022. Borrowers should expect to resume payment in January 2023. Applications for President Biden’s student debt relief initiative are expected to open in early October 2022. Details are on this official site. If you would like to be notified when the application is open, sign up at the Department of Education subscription page. According to the White House, the Department of Education will work quickly and efficiently to set up a simple application process for borrowers to claim relief. The application will be available no later than when the pause on federal student loan repayments terminates at the end of the year. Nearly 8 million borrowers may be eligible to receive relief automatically because their relevant income data is already available to the Department. Also, because of the American Rescue Plan signed into law by President Biden, this debt relief won’t be treated as taxable income for the federal income tax purposes.
State of Maine also has many student-debt relief programs
If you or a family member has student debt, check out Maine’s new Student Loan Repayment Tax Credit, the successor to what had been known as the Educational Opportunity Tax Credit. The Student Loan Repayment Tax Credit lets folks living and working in Maine with student debt secure a tax credit of up to $2,500 a year, with a total lifetime cap of $25,000. Details here. You’re eligible for the Student Loan Repayment Tax Credit if you live and work in Maine and if you earned an associate, bachelor’s or graduate degree after 2007 from an accredited college or university in Maine or other states.
Other Maine-based student-debt relief programs include Governor Mills’s initiative providing two years of free community college to eligible students. Details here.
Maine also offers the Maine State Grant Program; it provides need-based assistance of up to $2,500 to undergraduate students. Go to the Finance Authority of Maine’s website for state and federal programs making higher education within reach of all of us.
One benefit of MSEA-SEIU membership is our MSEA-SEIU Scholarship Program. In 2022, we awarded six scholarships ranging from $500 to $1,500 to MSEA-SEIU family members or working members. This year’s scholarship winners are enrolled at the University of Maine in Orono, Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, Thomas College in Waterville, Eastern Maine Community College in Bangor, University of Southern Maine in Portland and University of Maine at Augusta. Check our website in January 2023 for applications for our 2023 MSEA-SEIU scholarships. Join us in congratulating our 2022 scholarship winners:
Richard J. McDonough Scholarship ($1,500): Jake Goodwin, son of Joann Goodwin, of our Cumberland Chapter. Jake is attending University of Maine in Orono.
Howard L. Bowen Scholarship ($1,000): Cameron Hurd, son of Tricia Hurd, of our Capitol Western Chapter. Cameron is attending Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers.
Murray L. Brown Scholarship ($1,000): Tyler Brockway, son of Barbie Brockway, of our Jay Poor/Richard West Chapter. Tyler is attending Thomas College in Waterville.
George A. Davala Scholarship ($1,000): Devon Lagasse, son of Stephanie Lagasse of our Penobscot Chapter. Devon is attending Eastern Maine Community College in Bangor.
MSEA-SEIU Member Scholarship ($500): Breelyn McClernand, a member of our Judicial Chapter. Breelyn is attending University of Southern Maine in Portland.
MSEA-SEIU Member Scholarship ($500): Randeelynn Dresser, a member of our Judicial Chapter. Randeelynn is attending University of Maine at Augusta.
Bob Galloupe, center, receives our 2017 MSEA-SEIU Lifetime Achievement Award from then-MSEA-SEIU President Ramona Welton and MSEA-SEIU Retiree Member Bob Ruhlin.
It’s with a heavy heart we share that legendary MSEA-SEIU Retiree Member Bob Galloupe, age 91, of Brunswick, died June 30, 2022.
Bob was thinking of his fellow union brothers and sisters to the end, according to his surviving wife of 42 years, Ann Galloupe. “He loved the union. That was first in his thoughts,” Ann said July 6. “He loved the people.”
For over 50 years since joining state service as a license examiner back in 1971, a job he held for 22 years until his retirement in 1993, Bob has advocated for all of us. He took a leadership role early on in developing our union into the fighting force we’ve become today.
As an MSEA member in the 1970s, Bob wrote our union’s constitution and bylaws. He helped us win the ight to collective bargaining under Maine law. He participated in our earliest collective bargaining sessions that formed the basis of our Executive Branch contracts. Throughout all of his advocacy, he always served as a mentor to current and future union leaders, explaining what our union is about and what we stand for. Story.
In recognition of Jerry Parent’s over five decades of public service at the Maine Department of Labor, MSEA-SEIU Chief Steward and fellow Maine Department of Labor Fraud Investigator Skip Hall presented Jerry, at right, with an MSEA-SEIU President’s Award on behalf of MSEA-SEIU President Dean Staffieri. “I’ve felt, you know, the 52 years I’ve worked for the Maine Department of Manpower Affairs/Maine Department of Labor, if I lasted this long, I must have done something right,” Jerry said. “And with the outpouring of people over here today wishing me my happiness, I thank you all. It’s been a pleasure.” Congratulations, Jerry, on your retirement. You earned it! Story.
“As an employer, the State of Maine must lead by example and start paying workers fairly for their labor and service to Maine people. The Mills administration and the Legislature must eliminate the pay gap for state employees and raise the state government minimum wage to $15 an hour. The status quo must change. Maine’s leaders must start making Maine workers and their families, not corporations and the wealthy, the priority.”
—MSEA-SEIU Steward Kyle Thomas, who works for the State of Maine Postal Center, in an op-ed column in the Bangor Daily news
MSEA-SEIU members who work as office assistants and office associates are on the front lines of providing quality services to Maine people in this pandemic, yet workers in both classifications are paid only 79 to 80 percent of what their peers throughout New England earn. Underpaying is rampant throughout Maine State Government, a new report shows.
On Feb. 10, 2021, the Mills administration released to the Maine Legislature’s State and Local Government Committee a new and comprehensive State of Maine Market Study Report comparing the wages of State workers to our public and private sector counterparts throughout New England. The findings confirm what we’ve been telling the public and lawmakers for years: The State continues to substantially underpay us for the work we do. Immediate action and progress are needed to address this longstanding injustice.