Act now to avoid a shutdown

Dear MSEA-SEIU Member,

Act now to avoid a shutdown. Call your state representative AND your state senator THIS WEEKEND. Dial 207-274-7489 and enter your zip code. Ask your legislators to pass a state budget that:

  • prevents a state government shutdown;
  • funds the jobs in the current budget;
  • protects the retiree cost of living adjustment;
  • funds the surcharge dedicated to public education. The surcharge revenue will reduce pressure on everyone’s property taxes and ensure responsible funding for current state services, jobs, and COLAs.

You can also contact your legislators via this official link: http://legislature.maine.gov/house/townlist.htm

On Tuesday, June 27, join us for our Day of Action at the State House. Arrive at 8:30 a.m. at the Cross Office Building Cafeteria for a quick cup of coffee. Then we’ll all head to the State House to lobby legislators. Also please join us at 12 Noon in the Hall of Flags for our Noontime Purple Power Hour, followed by a barbecue in Capitol Park. It’s okay if you can only come at noon.

Also be sure to read our union’s “Guidance Concerning a Potential Shutdown of State Government” document. Here is the direct link: https://www.mseaseiu.org/forms/170623%20UPDATED%20Guidance%20Concerning%20a%20Potential%20Shutdown.pdf

Check back for updates.
In Solidarity,

Ramona Welton, President, MSEA-SEIU Local 1989


June 23: State workers call on state legislators: Pass a budget that prevents a state shutdown, provides the services Maine people count on, and ensures the revenues for public education and public services

June 23 – Speaking as private citizens, state workers in Augusta today called on state legislators to pass a state budget that prevents a state shutdown, provides the public services Maine people count on, and ensures the revenues for public education and public services.

“I am a child protective supervisor for the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. I work with the state’s permanency caseworkers. Their job is to make sure the 1,774 Maine children who are in state custody as of this week are safe,” said Dean Staffieri, vice president of the Maine State Employees Association, Local 1989 of the Service Employees International Union. “So when we as state workers, at state agencies, have our doors closed, whether it’s a scheduled furlough day or, heaven forbid, a state shutdown, it’s extraordinarily disruptive to the people who are counting on us the most – the children. Add in the scores of vacancies from state positions intentionally left unfilled – there currently are seven caseworker vacancies in the Lewiston DHHS office alone – and it becomes increasingly difficult for us to do our jobs.”

Staffieri added, “If the state government shuts down on July 1, lives are at risk. If there’s a contingency plan, the state hasn’t shared it with me or my caseworkers. I don’t know if they will be deemed emergency workers and ordered to work without pay, or if they will be ordered to stay home without pay, or even if there will be a skeleton crew.”

“All Maine people, regardless of political party, are better than this,” said Anne D’Alonzo, one of seven educators recently laid off at the A.R. Gould School within Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland. “Since my layoff (on June 9), I have continued to advocate for the students. I spent four days at the State House last week talking with state legislators. I explained to them that no one in any Maine community would risk their school’s accreditation by eliminating half their teaching staff, yet here the State of Maine is, doing it to Maine’s most vulnerable youths while they are in state custody. Please join me in telling our state legislators: It’s time to take care of each other. Tell them to restore the cut positions at the A.R. Gould School. Tell them to pass a state budget that provides the services all our kids are counting on to make it in this world. Tell them to do it by June 30 to prevent a state shutdown.”

Jonathan French, a licensed civil engineer for the Maine Department of Transportation, said he is concerned a state shutdown would interfere with highway projects he is working on.

“I don’t want to see another state shutdown unfold again. I would much rather be working, delivering quality service to the citizens of the State of Maine and being able to support my family,” French said. “There is much work to be done. I am currently working on the design and plan preparation for multiple projects in various parts of the state such as a multilane roundabout at the University of Maine in Orono; a three-mile reconstruction project on Route 2 in Dixfield; and a diverging diamond interchange of I-95 and Hogan Road in Bangor. Each of these projects has its own schedule that needs to be met in order for the project to be advertised to private contractors on time and a state shutdown would make it difficult to keep these projects moving forward.”

Jane Gilbert served as labor relations director for the Maine DOT during the 1991 shutdown. “I can tell you, back then, ALL state highway and bridge projects ground to a halt. Contractors weren’t allowed to work; the DOT had no one to monitor them. So private contractors laid off their workers –in the middle of the summer construction season. It was a big mess,” Gilbert said.

 “The shutdown was a double-whammy for state workers. They were locked out of their jobs, without pay. Because the state was shut down, they didn’t even get paid on schedule for their time worked in June. The State didn’t have authority to sign paychecks, let alone sign checks to state contractors and vendors,” said Gilbert. “Now, 26 years later, we are on the brink of shutting down state government again, even though state revenues are strong. There’s no fiscal crisis. There’s no revenue shortfall. It’s a false choice to sacrifice quality services for all Maine people for the sake of tax breaks for the wealthiest among us. That’s why I’m calling on all state legislators to pass a budget that provides the services we all count on – and prevents another shutdown.”

Steve Butterfield, director of information services for the Maine State Employees Association, SEIU Local 1989, presented financial data depicting the lost wages of all MSEA-SEIU represented workers in Maine State Government should there be a state shutdown.

“The most impacted county is Kennebec, where workers in MSEA bargaining units earn $539,525 in daily wages. Those daily wages, because of the multiplier effect, translate into a daily economic impact of $944,169 in Kennebec County. That’s nearly a million dollars per day of economic activity because they spend their money locally and it circulates in the local economy. If state government shuts down, those dollars don’t circulate in the local economy,” Butterfield said. “Statewide, all of the state government workers that MSEA represents earn just under $1.5 million per workday. Those wages then translate into over $2.5 million of economic impact per day.”


Impact of State Government Shutdown

“How does a state government shutdown impact MainePERS? MainePERS is not impacted by a state government shutdown, and will not close our offices if state government has not passed a budget by July 1st. Retirees will continue to receive their benefits without interruption. The reason MainePERS is not impacted by a state government shutdown is that we work with, but operate separately from state government. MainePERS exists and is authorized by state law to administer state and local pensions. We will remain open if a shutdown occurs and will be conducting business as usual. Please do not hesitate to call us at 800-451-9800 if you have any questions.”

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In Solidarity, Your Bargaining Team

Attention MSEA-SEIU Members!

We rely on you to keep us apprised of any changes to your status, your position and your contact information. Accordingly, please contact MSEA-SEIU Systems/Database Administrator Lynn Warner at 622-3151 ext. 1131 or lynn.warner@mseaseiu.org to update us whenever the following information changes:

  • YOUR CONTACT INFORMATION: Please let us know of any changes to your mailing address, your personal or work email addresses, or your home, cell or work phone numbers.
  • YOUR POSITION: Please let us know of any changes to the number of hours you are regularly scheduled to work each week, your work location, or your position, including changes through promotion, demotion, transfer or reclassification.
  • YOUR SEASONAL PAYROLL STATUS: If you are a permanent seasonal employee, please contact us to let us know when you go on or off payroll. Under our Constitution and Bylaws, permanent seasonal employees may maintain active member status while off payroll by paying dues at the retiree rate. This allows seasonal employees to continue to serve as chapter officers and delegates, to participate as delegates in our Annual Meeting, and to vote in contract ratification votes even while off-payroll. As of January 2017, the retiree dues rate is $5.05 per month. If you go off payroll, Lynn can help you make the payment arrangements necessary to maintain your active member status.

Thank you for your attention. It is your responsibility to provide us with accurate and up-to-date information. Failure to do so could affect your ability to participate in union matters, as well as your rights under your contract, Constitution and Bylaws.

Members of our union have gone through several turbulent months working to reduce the harm the Governor’s proposed state budget would cause Maine people. Your coworkers, retirees, staff and allies have been testifying before legislative committees and asking their state senators and state representatives to reject the Governor’s bad budget. Together, we have been asking legislators to start with the current baseline budget and build from there. There is still a lot of work to be done. Each of us has a role in making sure the Legislature passes a responsible state budget. Read President Welton’s column here.

Updated: June 23, 2017 — 5:38 pm
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