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.

 


 

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

Opposing LD 1655

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.

  • May 7: 10 a.m.
  • 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.

Read the letter here.

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 Daniel Ramsdell, 26 years at DCF

DCF correctional officer Danny Ramsdell worked at DCF for 26 years before the Governor laid him and his over 40 coworkers off last month. Danny and others told the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee on Feb. 28 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.


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 Transportation Chapter 1

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 Purple Days, Ellsworth, Maine

MSEA-SEIU Hancock Chapter members: Together #WeRise.

More MSEA-SEIU Central Maine Chapter members 2

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. 

Lewiston 1

In Lewiston, MSEA-SEIU members rise up for good union jobs.


Keep Fighting for DCF

 Keep fighting for Downeast Correctional Facility

The Maine House and Maine Senate took initial votes Feb. 15 approving LD 1704 to keep Downeast Correctional Facility open. Additional votes are needed to win. Please keep contacting the House Republicans who voted NO and ask them to reconsider. The House vote sheet is below. Y=Yes to keep the facility open. N=No to close it. Their contact info is here. Thanks to all the laid-off Downeast Correctional Workers who have been commuting to the State House daily since the Governor laid them off with his overnight closure of the facility Feb. 9. Thanks also to those who have contacted their legislators in support of LD 1704. Nothing and no one will stop us in our advocacy for the quality public services provided by the workers of Downeast Correctional Facility.

vote sheet
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MSEA-SEIU Member and laid-off Downeast Correctional Facility Vocational Trades Instructor Walter Jessiman talks with the press Feb. 13 about the facility’s crucial role in the state correctional system, the lives of the inmates, Washington County, the local businesses where many of the inmates worked, the community, and the local economy.

 Reopen Downeast Correctional Facility NOW!

Laid-off workers at Downeast Correctional Facility in Machiasport trekked to the State House Feb. 13 to talk with the press and state legislators about the many impacts of the Governor’s overnight closure of the facility. Closing the facility is harmful to the correctional system, the inmates, Washington County, the local businesses where many of the inmates worked, the community, the local economy, and workers and their families, the laid-off workers said.

“I think it was very wrong,” Brian Mozeliak, who’s in his 20th years as a correctional officer at Downeast Correctional Facility. “I think Gov. LePage is misinformed at best.”

The workers spoke with the press and legislators about Downeast Correctional Facility’s work-release program, which provides inmates employment as they serve their sentences. The work experience and job skills the inmates gained while serving their sentences at Downeast Correctional Facility have reduced their likelihood of recidivism. Closing Downeast Correctional Facility and moving the inmates to Charleston, which is what the Governor did, means these inmates don’t have work-release jobs anymore.

“I have no ill feelings toward the Governor,” said Chris Sprague, a vocational instructor at Downeast Correctional Facility for six years. “I just hope he has a change of heart. We do a good thing in the county.”

The closure happened overnight Feb. 9 as bipartisan legislation, LD 1704, to keep Downeast Correctional Facility open was moving forward in the Maine Legislature. LD 1704 was presented by State Rep. Will Tuell and cosponsored by 27 other legislators. The Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee voted Feb. 5 to recommend keeping Downeast Correctional Facility open and requiring the Department of Corrections to report back no later than April 1, 2019, on any proposed changes to the facility. The report would have to identify any impacts on employee compensation and benefits, any correctional facilities and their communities, and the economy.

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Laid-off Downeast Correctional Facility workers talk with State Representative John Martin about the impact of the facility’s closure.

Keep Downeast Correctional Facility Open

Downeast Correctional Facility workers and state legislators showed their support Jan. 26 for LD 1704 to keep the facility open.

 Our statement on the Governor’s closing of Downeast Correctional Facility overnight and moving its prisoners to Mountain View Correctional Facility in Charleston

February 9 — Eight of our 10 bargaining unit members at Downeast Correctional Facility were placed on administrative leave this morning and told they will be laid off effective March 3. We are reaching out to them to ensure their contractual rights are respected. We are continuing to evaluate contractual, legal and legislative options. We will join the impacted workers Monday morning, Feb. 12, when they meet with the Maine Department of Labor’s Rapid Response team.

Downeast Correctional Facility plays a crucial role in Maine’s correctional system as shown during the legislative hearing Jan. 26 on the bipartisan legislation known as LD 1704, which would keep Downeast Correctional Facility open. Everyone who spoke supported keeping the facility open.

“The staff of Downeast Correctional Facility has remained strong and steadfast throughout the long, cold months of bitter air flowing our way out of Augusta,” MSEA-SEIU Member Ann Grange, the education teacher at the facility and one of the workers placed on administrative leave this morning, told the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee. “We have continued to do the best for the prisoners in our care. We have put their well-being first and have tried to help them through the stress of wondering whether DCF is closing or remaining open.”

Continuing, Ann told the legislators, “We are standing our ground and feel (Downeast Correctional Facility) is the place for prisoners to do their time. Large is not always better. People thrive in a smaller community. They have more time without stress, to reassess their direction in life. They have more personal attention from staff. We need to think and focus more on the prisoner and how we can best meet his needs.”

Downeast Correctional Facility has widespread support among Down East businesses and the local community. Many business owners and community members have consistently testified over the years in support of keeping it open.


Maine Turnpike Authority members

At their chapter meeting, MSEA-SEIU members at the Maine Turnpike Authority celebrated the defeat of LD 1779.

 Two victories on Feb. 6; help keep them coming

Dear MSEA-SEIU Member,

Feb. 6 was a good day for working families and retirees at the State House. After listening to you, your coworkers and others, two legislative committees cast bipartisan, unanimous votes defeating bad legislation that would have harmed our members and quality public services:

  • The Transportation Committee voted “ought not to pass” on LD 1779, which would have required all-electronic tolling at the Maine Turnpike’s York plaza and all other turnpike plazas as they are rebuilt or replaced. LD 1779 could have eliminated the jobs of 25 fare collectors at the York plaza and it could have led to the elimination of the jobs of all 145 fare collectors on the turnpike. This legislation could have jeopardized the $15 million in annual cash fare collections at the York plaza. Thanks go to the Maine Turnpike Authority members and other MSEA-SEIU members who asked the committee to oppose LD 1779.
  • The Appropriations Committee voted “ought not to pass” on LD 1509, which would have further singled out and penalized State of Maine retirees. This legislation would have prohibited State of Maine retirees who retire at normal retirement age after Sept. 1, 2011, from returning to public service in Maine for as long as they draw a pension from the state retirement system. Thanks go to the MSEA-SEIU members, both working and retired, who asked the committee to oppose LD 1509.

Please help keep the momentum for working families and retirees going. Join me Tuesday, March 13, at the State House in Augusta for the Maine AFL-CIO Labor Lobby Day. Advocate with fellow union members in support of quality public services, working families and retirees. Register here.

Labor Lobby Day begins with registration at 7:45 a.m. and training at 8 a.m., both at the Cross Office Building Cafeteria. Show your support for pro-worker legislation. Let your State Representative and State Senator them know where you stand. Thank you and I look forward to seeing you March 13.

In Solidarity,

Ramona Welton
President, MSEA-SEIU Local 1989


Legislative committee makes bipartisan recommendation to keep Downeast Correctional Facility open 

On Feb. 5, the Maine Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee voted in support of an amended LD 1704 funding the Downeast Correctional Facility in Machiasport beyond June 30, 2018. While this bipartisan vote is an encouraging development, additional legislative action will be needed to keep Downeast Correctional Facility open.

Funding for Downeast Correctional Facility will run out June 30, 2018, unless the Legislature acts to pass LD 1704. Presented by State Rep. Will Tuell and cosponsored by 27 other legislators, the bipartisan LD 1704 would keep Downeast Correctional Facility open. LD 1704 would require the Department of Corrections to report back no later than April 1, 2019, on any proposed changes to the facility. The report would have to identify any impacts on employee compensation and benefits, any correctional facilities and their communities, and the economy. We will follow up with new developments.


 Attention MSEA-SEIU Members!

Apply now for our 2018 MSEA-SEIU scholarships

MSEA-SEIU members and their dependent students can apply for our 2018 MSEA-SEIU scholarships. Our union offers a total of 11 scholarships. Seven scholarships are for full-time students in a dependent relationship with dues-paying MSEA-SEIU members. Four scholarships are for MSEA-SEIU members who are continuing their education. Application instructions and requirements are attached to the three scholarship forms linked below. Applications and all required data must be received at MSEA-SEIU headquarters by April 20, 2018. If you have any questions, please contact MSEA-SEIU Account Clerk Luanne Collins at 622-3151 ext. 1114 or Luanne.Collins@mseaseiu.org.

MSEA-SEIU 2018 Scholarship Applications. Instructions are attached to each application:


 Don’t gut Maine’s minimum wage law 

Jan. 24 — 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.


Dear MSEA-SEIU Member,

The MSEA-SEIU Retirees Steering Committee will present our 6th Annual MSEA-SEIU Lifetime Achievement Award to one of our retiree members Tuesday, May 29, 2018, during our 31st Annual MSEA-SEIU Retirees Day at the Augusta Civic Center. Anyone can nominate. Using the two-page nomination form linked here, please nominate a retiree whom you think might be deserving of this award. Past Lifetime Achievement Award recipients are: Frank Kadi (2013); Jackie Roach (2014); John Hinkley (2015); Bill Deering (2016); and Bob Galloupe (2017).

These factors (in no particular order) will be considered in selecting the 2018 award recipient:

1. Living person;

2. Active in being a leader;

3. During his or her work years, showed leadership in support of working families and retirees;

4. Advocates for MSEA-SEIU retirees through the political process;

5. Promotes spirit of retirees;

6. Supports the MSEA-SEIU retiree agenda;

7. Community Involvement.

Print out the two-page nomination form here.

You can also request a copy of the nomination form by emailing: tom.farkas@mseaseiu.org

You may nominate someone by email or U.S. mail. Send nominations to Tom Farkas, MSEA-SEIU communications and training coordinator, at tom.farkas@mseaseiu.org or via U.S. mail at: Tom Farkas, MSEA-SEIU Local 1989, 65 State St., Augusta, ME 04330-5126.

You may self-nominate or nominate someone else. In nominating someone else for this award, we need your help by answering some of the criteria above as we don’t know what all retirees have done to contribute.

Once the deadline has passed, a subcommittee will look over the nominations, score them and select someone. Nominations must be received at MSEA-SEIU headquarters by 5 p.m. Friday, April 13.

In Solidarity,
The MSEA-SEIU Retirees Steering Committee


“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.


 Please support LD 1163, State Senator Nate Libby’s student debt relief bond initiative

Student debt relief is an issue of direct importance to many MSEA-SEIU members. It affects most of us with children, grandchildren, and other family members burdened with student debt. If we want to support workers willing to dedicate their careers to public service, we should support programs like student debt relief. That’s why we support LD 1163, State Senator Nate Libby’s student debt relief bond initiative.

Here’s what the Portland Press Herald, Kennebec Journal and Central Maine Morning Sentinel say about LD 1163: “Libby’s bill would issue a $100 million bond for student debt forgiveness and refinancing. Eligible graduates working in Maine could shave 15 percent off their debt per year of work. In six years, the average employee would be debt free. The bill will be coming back to the Legislature this year, and lawmakers should take advantage of this opportunity to put partisanship aside and invest in Maine’s future.”


MSEA is ME
Watch the video!

Click to play video…

MSEA-SEIU 2018 Statewide Steward Skills Training Program: Monday, April 30: Augusta Civic Center, 76 Community Drive, Augusta, ME 04330. Registration begins at 8 a.m. Training runs from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

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

Robin + Bob FB

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.

Go to seiumb.com to see how the buying power of millions of SEIU members can help you:
Manage finances: Get competitive rates on everything from credit cards to personal loans;
Protect your family: Benefit from group rates on a growing portfolio of insurance products;
Cut your cost of living: Get special discounts at thousands of stores and favorite merchants;
Travel for less: Enjoy specially negotiated rates and travel programs.

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.


American_Income_Life_Poster

Every day we go to work and on many days our work goes unnoticed. Often it seems like we’re only noticed when there’s a problem. I want to take this opportunity to thank every one of you for the work you do, or have done, for Maine people. Thank you also for what you do every day for your community and for your union. Together We are Stronger!

MANY OF YOU STEPPED UP IN 2017
Many of you stepped up in support of Maine workers, retirees and quality public services. Over the summer, you demanded passage of a fair budget ending the state shutdown. In October, nearly 200 of you served as delegates at our 74th Annual Meeting. Delegates approved our 2018 General Operating Budget. They also passed a special resolution titled “MSEA is ME.” This resolution, printed on Page 7, is your call to action for 2018:
“MSEA is committed to fighting against all attacks on our ability to be a voice for all workers across Maine, that MSEA is committed to maintaining our strength in every single worksite by increasing membership and developing new leaders. By speaking with a unified voice MSEA will make our presence known at the worksite, at the State House and in our communities. MSEA’s members, leaders and staff will devote every effort to amplify the voice of Maine’s workers and working families to ensure that ‘Together We Rise’ in each MSEA bargaining unit and chapter, and that we stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers fighting for workers’ rights across the country.”

Read the rest of President Welton’s column here.

Updated: April 18, 2018 — 10:35 am
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