MSEA-SEIU members who work for York County Government ratify contract
On May 15, MSEA-SEIU members who work for York County Government ratified their tentative contractual agreement with management.
RIP, MSEA-SEIU Member and Staff Development Specialist IV Jeff Freeman
Our sympathies to the family, friends and coworkers of MSEA-SEIU Member Jeff Freeman, who died May 10. A member of our Motor Vehicle Chapter, Jeff worked as a Staff Development Specialist IV for the Bureau of Motor Vehicles within the Maine Department of the Secretary of State in Augusta.
Secretary of State Matt Dunlap praised Jeff’s service to Maine people. “This has been a terrible blow to the family within the Department of the Secretary of State. Jeff was our staff development officer; he coordinated, among other things, new employee orientation, training opportunities, and led the development of our mentoring program,” Dunlap said. “The man just exuded kindness and patience, and practically every time he had the chance he thanked us all for the opportunity to be a part of our group. His sudden loss has shocked us all. We’re now focused on his family, and in taking care of each other. Rest in peace, Jeff. You were the best of the best.”
According to Jeff’s obituary, visiting hours are from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, May 15, at Roberts Funeral Home, 62 Bowdoin St., Winthrop. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 1 p.m. Wednesday, May 16, at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, 130 State Route 133, also in Winthrop. Read his obituary here.
RIP, MSEA-SEIU Member and Maine DOT Transportation Worker I Kevin Grondin
Our sympathies to the family, friends and coworkers of MSEA-SEIU Member and Maine DOT Transportation Worker I Kevin Grondin, who died May 2. Kevin worked out of the Maine DOT camp in Standish. According to his obituary, in his personal time, he held toy drives for children receiving care at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital in memory of a friend. Read Kevin’s obituary here.
RIP, MSEA-SEIU Member and Deputy Judicial Marshal Robert Durfee
Our thoughts and prayers go to the family, friends and coworkers of MSEA-SEIU Member and Deputy Judicial Marshal Robert Durfee, who died May 1. Robert was a member of our Judicial Employees Chapter. An Army veteran, he served as a police officer for the Cumberland Police Department and as a deputy for the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office before becoming a Deputy Judicial Marshal. Read his obituary here.
Participants in the State Employee Health Plan (SEHP) now have the legal right to enroll their dependent children in Cubcare, or CHIP, the Children’s Health Insurance Program. CHIP is part of Maine’s MaineCare program. CHIP provides low-cost health insurance to eligible children up through age 18. The healthcare coverage provided to children through CHIP is the same as the coverage provided to children through MaineCare. This means it covers virtually all medically necessary care, including dental services. The State Employee Health Plan (SEHP) now has an add/drop period for health insurance under way through May 18. SEHP participants who already are paying for dependent children’s coverage through the SEHP can terminate their dependent children’s coverage through the SEHP and enroll in CHIP without interruption in coverage, provided they meet eligibility requirements. Click here for details.
MSEA-SEIU stewards show their solidarity April 30 at our MSEA-SEIU Statewide Steward Skills Training Program.
82 MSEA-SEIU steward stregthen their skills
Eighty-two MSEA-SEIU stewards converged on Augusta Civic Center April 30 for our 2018 MSEA-SEIU Statewide Steward Skills Training Program. MSEA-SEIU President Ramona Welton welcomed the stewards and recognized longtime retiring MSEA-SEIU Steward Ray Heathco for his service to our union and the people of Maine. Ray, who retired the same day as a human services enforcement agent for Maine DHHS, said he will remain active in our union as a retiree member.
President Welton introduced new MSEA-SEIU Director of Organizing and Field Operations Angela MacWhinnie. Seventeen new stewards participated in our “Stewards 101” course. More experienced Stewards took courses in addressing problems in grievance investigations, representing members at grievance step meetings, and resolving a grievance without ever filing one.
All stewards joined in a presentation relating to the Legislature’s role in contract funding and quality public services. The presentation included a question-and-answer session with State Senator Roger Katz, Maine House Assistant Democratic Leader Jared Golden, and MSEA-SEIU Director of Politics and Legislation Mary Anne Turowski. Stewards also heard from MSEA-SEIU Retiree Member and State Rep. Donna Doore.
All stewards also participated in a Chief Stewards presentation titled “Building Solidarity One Conversation at a Time.”
MSEA-SEIU Retiree Member and State Rep. Donna Doore reads about excavator operator Martin Qualey of Benedicta, one of 17 Maine workers who died on the job in 2017.
Remembering the 17 Maine workers who died on the job in 2017
Maine workers and retired workers gathered April 27 for the Maine Labor Group on Health’s Worker’s Memorial Day Breakfast to remember the 17 Maine workers who died on the job or from occupational illnesses in 2017. They held a moment of silence for those 17 workers, Somerset County Sheriff’s Cpl. Eugene Cole, who was shot to death on April 25, 2018, and Christopher Pineau of Fayette, who died March 3, 2018, while maintaining a log-yard crane.
Maine Labor Group on Health Board Member Peter Crockett read the names of the 17 Maine workers who died in 2017 (learn more about in the photo essay here):
- Richard “Butch” Clark
- Richard Charest
- Patrick Graham
- Ronald Hemingway
- Nathan Desjardin
- Martin Qualey
- Joseph Robinson
- Joseph Lawlor
- Jeffrey Abbott
- James Meserve
- James I. Brooks
- Gregory Hutchinson
- George Gorman
- Bruce Hebert
- Bruce Wing
- Brandon Henderson
- Alexander Witt
“We’re here for them, for the people we know as well who know the families. We share their pain,” Linda Doran, director of the Maine Labor Group on Health, said during the group’s annual Worker’s Memorial Day Breakfast at the Maine AFL-CIO headquarters in Augusta.
“Not one more,” the workers at the breakfast chanted.
Throughout our nation, 100,000 workers died in 2016, the most recent year statistics are available. They include 5,190 workers who died from on-the-job-injuries and 95,000 who died from occupational illnesses, according to Marcy Goldstein-Geld, co-executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, the parent organization of the Maine Labor Group on Health
“In addition to grieving those losses, we share the anger of the families who were told it was a freak accident and due to human error,” Goldstein-Geld said, explaining her group has looked closely into worker deaths and has found employers repeatedly failed to listen to workers who alerted them about worksite dangers. Instead of responding to and addressing hazards, she said, employers responded by ignoring safety orders, firing workers, demoting workers or reporting them to immigration authorities.
“To flout safeguards, that’s inhuman and that’s neglect,” she said.
She called on all workers to demand justice and noted her organization is supporting scores of justice efforts of families whose loved ones have died on the job. Demand that elected leaders at the state and national levels strengthen and protect worker protections, she urged those at the Worker’s Memorial Day Breakfast. “With a collective bargaining agreement, you can speak up for health and safety without being fired or shown the door.”
A delegation from the Maine Bureau of Labor Standards joined the workers in the remembrance ceremony: Bureau Director Danny Bolduc along with Steve Greeley, Amanda O’Leary, Victor Tardiff, and Hank Diplock.
Pending Janus Decision
Well-funded corporations and some politicians are trying to take away rights from workers and their unions. One such attempt is the anti-worker Janus v. AFSCME lawsuit pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. The Janus lawsuit is part of an effort to rig the economy against working people. Watch this four-minute video about Janus.
First in a series of member profiles: Bob Galloupe and Kerem Gungor began their public service in Maine State Government nearly a half century apart, Bob in 1971 as a driving license examiner, Kerem in 2016 as an environmental engineer for the Maine DEP. Their public service and determination to have a voice in their pay, benefits and working conditions led both of them to join the Maine State Employees Association. As we celebrate our 75th anniversary year, the stories of these two members, Bob and Kerem, symbolize the many generations of workers our union has represented and advocated for since MSEA formed in 1943. Read their stories here.
Protected: Jobs at Child Development Services
With our support, the Legislature’s Education and Cultural Affairs Committee on April 4 stopped the administration’s plan to eliminate Child Development Services within two years and shift the services it provides to 3-through-5-year-olds onto Maine’s public schools.
Instead, committee members voted 8-3 to create a task force examining the delivery of CDS services. The amended legislation, LD 1870, calls for this task force to include a Child Development Services staff member who provides direct services, appointed by the Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives. This legislation faces additional votes in the Legislature as well as a likely veto by the Governor.
The workers at Child Development Services are experienced, knowledgeable and dedicated to the children and families they serve. Special thanks go to those MSEA-SEIU members who testified March 26, as private citizens, against the administration’s proposed elimination of CDS. At the hearing, parents, advocates for children and others joined us in testifying against the administration’s legislation eliminating Child Development Services. The administration’s proposal would have radically restructured how Maine families with newborns through age 5 access a range of services they have a right to receive.
No new tax breaks for Maine’s wealthiest individuals and corporations with so many needs unfilled in our great state
Thank you, MSEA-SEIU retiree member Jane Gilbert, for delivering our union’s testimony March 15 opposing LD 1655, the Governor’s tax-conformity legislation. Here is our testimony:
This legislation proposes over $88 million in tax breaks overwhelmingly benefiting wealthy individuals, such as heirs with multimillion dollar estates, and profitable corporations. These are the same individuals and corporations that secured substantial tax breaks under the Republican tax bill passed at the national level.
It’s unconscionable that anyone would consider giving even more tax breaks to Maine’s wealthiest individuals and corporations at a time when so many needs have gone unfilled in our great state. Before giving a penny of new tax breaks to anyone, we urge you to address priorities that include but are not limited to:
- MaineCare expansion. In a citizens’ initiative, Maine people in November of 2017 voted overwhelmingly to expand MaineCare under the Affordable Care Act. It is past time for Maine to respect the will of Maine voters by implementing MaineCare expansion. Implementation will provide 70,000 Mainers with quality, affordable healthcare.
- Raises for Maine’s direct care workers, also known as home care workers or personal attendants. With our population aging both nationally and in Maine, the need for home-based care grows each year. Maine people are increasingly counting on home-based care so they can live as independently as possible in their own homes as an alternative to more expensive boarding or nursing homes. The direct care workforce is predicted to be the fastest growing occupation in our nation during this decade. Paying direct care workers a living wage will help ensure that Maine has the direct care workforce necessary to provide for our aging population.
- The statutory obligation of the State of Maine to open a prerelease center in Washington County. In 2016, the Legislature approved a bond that included authorization of a prerelease center in Washington County.
For these reasons, we urge you to oppose LD 1655. Thank you.
MSEA-SEIU Area II Retirees Chapter meetings
All MSEA-SEIU Area II Retirees Chapter meetings are at MSEA-SEIU headquarters, 65 State St., Augusta, unless otherwise noted.
- June 4: 10 a.m.
- July/August: No meeting
- September: Annual meeting, location to be announced; notice to be sent
- Oct. 1: 10 a.m.
- Nov. 5: 10 a.m.
- Dec. 3: 10 a.m., followed by potluck luncheon and optional Yankee swap.
Downeast Correctional Facility workers demand Governor reopen facility
In light of the injunction issued by the Kennebec County Superior Court that confirmed the Governor’s closure of Downeast Correctional Facility (DCF) was illegal, workers from the facility sent a letter March 15 to the Governor through their legal counsel demanding that the Department of Corrections re-open DCF and start operations immediately.
Because the Court found that the Feb. 9 closing of DCF was illegal, the workers demand that reopening must include reinstating the employees who were terminated as part of the illegal closure with full back pay and benefits and returning the inmates that were transferred as part of the illegal closure.
MSEA-SEIU Member Ann Grange of Northfield, an educator at DCF for 19 years, said, “Downeast Correctional Facility is an integral part of Washington County’s economy. It works well for the inmates, for the local businesses, for the workers and our families, and for the entire community. This is a success story we should be promoting, not closing. We are glad the Superior Court confirmed that the Governor’s actions were illegal, and we call on the Department of Corrections and the Legislature to act immediately to re-instate the workers and inmates to Machiasport immediately.”
“The illegal closure of Downeast Correctional Facility has upended my life. It forced me to apply for retirement even though I want to keep working and need to keep working. My health insurance expired (March 15) and I have eye surgery scheduled for (March 16). My coworkers and I don’t know how we’re going to make ends meet. We want to get back to work serving the people of Maine,” Grange said.
DCF correctional officer Danny Ramsdell worked at DCF for 26 years before the Governor laid off him and his over 40 coworkers. Danny and others told the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee the DCF property could accommodate a prerelease center, the laid-off workers at DCF are eager to get back to work, local employers want to continue hiring inmates as they have done so for many years, and the community support for both DCF and a prerelease center is strong. Story and more photos here.
MSEA-SEIU members: America needs union jobs
Over 150 MSEA-SEIU members at worksites throughout the state joined in nationwide #WeRise actions Feb. 26 in support of joining together for the quality public services and good union jobs our communities need. The nationwide actions coincided with the U.S. Supreme Court hearing arguments in the anti-worker case known as Janus v. AFSCME. This lawsuit is part of a well-funded campaign by the rich and powerful to divide us from our coworkers and limit the power in numbers we have together in our union. These kinds of lawsuits are trying to divide us, but we won’t let them. We are going to stick together, no matter what. No court case, no legislation, no propaganda campaign can stop us from sticking together. We are Stronger Together. Photos below:
MSEA-SEIU members of our Transportation Chapter understand union jobs are good jobs. When working people stick together in a union, they gain the power in numbers to raise wages and improve benefits like healthcare.
MSEA-SEIU Hancock Chapter members: Together #WeRise.
MSEA-SEIU members of our Central Maine Chapter know union jobs boost families and make entire neighborhoods and communities stronger. But too many jobs today aren’t union and don’t pay enough to support a family. We need to turn more jobs, especially in the fast-growing service and care sectors, into union jobs that provide families a better shot at financial security.
In Lewiston, MSEA-SEIU members rise up for good union jobs.
Don’t gut Maine’s minimum wage law
Senator Volk, Representative Fecteau, members of the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee,
We respectfully urge you to oppose LD 1757. Two years ago, many members of our union signed the citizens’ petitions and helped collect over 90,000 signatures of Maine voters to put the referendum question raising Maine’s minimum wage on the November 8, 2016, ballot. Maine voters overwhelmingly voted to raise Maine’s wage. The law resulted in Maine’s first minimum wage increase in eight years. Over 100,000 Maine workers got a raise in 2017 when the wage increased to $9 under the law. Another 59,000 workers got a raise earlier this month when the wage increased to $10, also under the law.
Many of our members who work as publicly funded personal care assistants, or direct care workers, are directly benefiting from the law. These include the workers we represent at Home Care for Maine, a publicly funded agency providing direct-care and personal-attendant services to Maine seniors and Mainers with disabilities. Last fall, our union signed an agreement with management of Home Care for Maine providing our bargaining unit members at Home Care for Maine with a $1 an hour pay raise – a raise that became effective with their Nov. 24, 2017, payday. This raise was necessary because some Home Care for Maine workers were earning less than $10 an hour last year. Just think about that for a minute – some home care and direct care workers in Maine were doing this difficult and deeply personal work last year for less than $10 an hour, all to help Maine people live as independently as possible in their own homes.
Many home care workers, including our members who work at Home Care for Maine, don’t get any benefits as part of their employment contract. They don’t get health insurance. They don’t get sick time. They don’t get vacation time. They don’t get retirement benefits, either. Their paycheck is all they have to help them catch up with the rising cost of living.
Yet under LD 1757, Maine’s minimum wage would be cut to $9.50. Future minimum wage increases would be cut in half, to 50 cents a year. There wouldn’t be any indexing of the wage after 2020. The wage would be cut for workers under age 18. It would also be cut for workers ages 18 and 19 in their first three months of employment. All of these schemes are the wrong way for Maine to go.
Even with this year’s increase to $10, Maine’s minimum wage remains the second lowest in New England. The wage in Massachusetts is $11. In Vermont, it’s $10.50. In both Connecticut and Rhode Island, it’s $10.10. If it weren’t for New Hampshire, which sticks to the federal minimum of $7.50, Maine’s wage would be the lowest in New England.
Please keep Maine moving forward, not backward. Please vote no on LD 1757.
Bangor Daily News editorial —
“Raising the state’s minimum wage helped the state’s economy and the state’s low-wage workers. Reversing these benefits makes no sense.” Read the full editorial here.
MSEA is ME
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MSEA-SEIU Fall 2018 Regional Steward Skills Training Programs. Registration begins at 8 a.m. Training runs from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.:
- Tuesday, Sept. 11: Portland, Clarion Hotel, 1230 Congress St. Portland, ME 04102
- Wednesday, Sept. 19: Bangor, Spectacular Event Center, 395 Griffin Road, Bangor, ME 04401
- Thursday Sept. 20: Presque Isle, Northeastland Hotel, 436 Main St, Presque Isle, ME 04769
- Tuesday, Sept. 25: Augusta Civic Center, 76 Community Drive, Augusta, ME 04330
Attention all MSEA-SEIU members: Welcome to SEIU Member Benefits, a new online benefit program exclusively for SEIU members. Go to seiumb.com for details.
At seiumb.com you can take advantage of a range of benefit programs – everything from insurance and credit cards to discounts on travel and everyday items. We’re proud to bring you this assortment of great benefits at no cost or obligation – just for being a member of MSEA-SEIU Local 1989.
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There’s no cost or obligation. Get started today by registering at seiumb.com and then keep going back to see new benefits. You also can sign up at seiumb.com for emails to be the first to know when new benefits are added.
Seventy five years ago, on March 18, 1943, about 200 state workers converged on the State House around a common purpose. As public servants, they knew they needed a voice in their jobs and in their pay, benefits and working conditions. They formed the Maine State Employees Association and began advocating for each other and the work they do.
Back in 1943, state workers had no employment contracts. They didn’t have health insurance. There wasn’t any pension system, either. Yet those founding MSEA members were united in their resolve to advocate for each other and the public services they were providing.
Their hard work and perseverance culminated in 1974 when state workers secured the right under state law to collective bargaining. By 1989, MSEA members recognized they needed to be part of something bigger to advocate effectively for public services, good jobs, affordable healthcare, and retirement security. So they voted to affiliate with the Service Employees International Union, our over 2-million member international union. We’ve been known as MSEA-SEIU Local 1989 ever since.
Time and time again, we have shown we are Stronger Together. Read the rest of President Welton’s column here.