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For MSEA-SEIU Member Chris Martinez, a screener for Maine’s Capitol Police, his union membership has provided him and his family with more than a voice in his wages, benefits and working conditions. It also was his ticket to earn a free college degree through the SEIU Free College Benefit, a benefit program available to MSEA-SEIU members through our affiliation with the Service Employees International Union. Earlier this year, Chris completed all the requirements to earn an associate’s degree in criminal justice from Eastern Gateway Community College in Ohio, one of two participating colleges. The other is Central State University; both are affiliated with the University System of Ohio. Through the SEIU Free College Program, eligible SEIU members and their spouses, domestic partners, children, parents, siblings and financial dependents, as well as retirees and their families, are eligible to earn free bachelor’s or associate’s degrees. Full story here.
Solidarity at Maine Educational Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing/Governor Baxter School for the Deaf
This is what solidarity looks like in American Sign Language, as shown by our members at the Maine Educational Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing/Governor Baxter School for the Deaf. Members designed and wore solidarity shirts and buttons May 25 for a day of action.
Over 2,500 state workers signed our petition demanding Gov. Mills end the gap for state employees. Members delivered the petitions May 13.
“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
“While Gov. Janet Mills didn’t create this problem, the excuses have run out. State revenue forecasts now exceed even pre-pandemic predictions — it’s time to invest in the services the people of Maine rely on and the people who make them possible. As one of Maine’s largest employers, state government must lead by example and be a part of raising standards for working people.”
— Allison Perkins, Vice President, MSEA-SEIU Local 1989, in an op-ed column in the Kennebec Journal and Central Maine Morning Sentinel
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, 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.
Statement by MSEA-SEIU President Staffieri on Gov. Mills Part 2 Budget Proposal
“Governor Mills’ Change Package ‘Part 2 Budget Proposal’ uses the increased revenue forecasted to make critical investments in working families across Maine. The Governor’s proposed budget adds much needed positions in State Government that are desperately needed to help mitigate the impact of ‘forever chemicals’ in Maine’s environment, bolster public safety, strengthen the enforcement of Labor Standards, expand access to the services of Career Centers. It also includes positions to help address the toxic substances and safety concerns in Maine State Government worksites. Thanks to MSEA members advocating last legislative session, this legislative session and through our building safety committee, $87 million will be used for stewardship of State-owned buildings to complete long-overdue and badly needed repairs.”
“Additionally, we congratulate the Governor, MSEA-SEIU municipal and educational workers for finally achieving 55% education funding for the first time and the restoration of Revenue Sharing to 5%. These investments will help preserve critical municipal jobs, support the education our students deserve, and lessen the property tax burden for seniors and working families. The budget proposal also includes a restoration of funding increases for the work our members do in Maine’s Community College System.”
“While this budget proposal will be instrumental to helping Maine working families recover from the pandemic, and help solve some of Maine’s most persistent inequities, we continue to demand immediate progress on addressing the low-wages that State Government pays its own employees. On average State Employees make 15% less than their counterparts throughout New England, even after adjusting for regional pay differences. We look forward to working with the Legislature, Governor Mills, and our Executive Branch Bargaining Team on a budget that respects us, protects us, and pays us. We’ve provided essential services throughout this pandemic, often at great risk to ourselves and our families. It’s not enough to call essential workers heroes, our pay must reflect our essential work.”
June’s Representational services roundup —
Executive, Judicial, ACLU, Parenthood, Baxter School, MCCS, Maritime, Green Valley, York
In a first for our union, elected delegates convened virtually Oct. 17 for our 77th Annual Meeting. Delegates passed the 2021 MSEA-SEIU General Operating Budget and a dues increase of 10 cents per week. Retiree dues go up 5 cents per month automatically with the retiree COLA going up. Story.
Because of the advocacy of MSEA-SEIU members in support of leaders who respect us and our work, on Nov. 3 we elected a pro-worker majority of state legislators in both the Maine Senate and Maine House of Representatives for the 130th Maine Legislature. We re-elected our pro-worker Congressman, Jared Golden, and our pro-worker Congresswoman, Chellie Pingree. Members took a leadership role in electing a pro-worker president and vice president in President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Story.
“The workers at Planned Parenthoodorganized 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.
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.