Trump and the US Senate have abandoned Maine workers
Statement by Dean Staffieri, President of the Maine Service Employees Association, SEIU Local 1989, on President Trump and Senators Collins and McConnell failing to pass more COVID relief before the election and shutting down negotiations Oct. 6:
“President Trump and Senators Susan Collins and Mitch McConnell have abandoned their responsibility to working families by failing to pass more COVID relief before the election and shutting down negotiations Oct. 6. Their failure to act is inexcusable. Over 215,849 Americans have died from COVID-19 and over 7.7 million have contracted it with no end in sight to the pandemic. Right now, 12.6 million Americans are unemployed and wondering how they are going to survive; they need help immediately. The State of Maine is dealing with a $1.4 billion revenue shortfall. Maine cities and towns are dealing with $146 million in shortfalls this year alone. These shortfalls threaten the quality services Maine people count on and jobs of Maine workers. The House has passed two relief measures since May, and after six months, Trump, McConnell and Collins have failed to pass real relief for working families. On Election Day, Maine people must elect leaders who make working families their priority in this pandemic.”
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“Today’s (Aug. 3) vote by the workers at Planned Parenthood is an extraordinary achievement. They organized 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.
“If you haven’t yet run for election to serve on the MSEA-SEIU Board of Directors or a union committee, there are many opportunities to step up. Please consider running. Join me as an elected leader in our member-run union! Together, we’ll safely advocate in this pandemic for all Maine workers, active and retired. Terms on our Board of Directors, Finance Committee, VEBA (Voluntary Employee Benefits Association) Committee and PASER (Political Action by Service Employees and Retirees) Committee are expiring at year’s end. All MSEA Board and committees are adapting to the pandemic by doing the union’s work remotely to keep everyone safe.”
–MSEA-SEIU President Dean Staffieri
MSEA-SEIU President Dean Staffieri and others July 8 rallied to demand Senator Collins pass the HEROES Act funding state and local services. Call Senator Collins at 844-311-7810; tell her to pass the HEROES Act.
Dear MSEA-SEIU Member,
The pandemic is worsening: Over 4 million cases of COVID-19 and 145,000 deaths in America alone. Over 20 million Americans are losing extended unemployment benefits this week. The State of Maine faces a $625 million budget shortfall. Many cities and towns are struggling to fund services.
Workers can’t wait any longer: Call Senator Collins at 844-311-7810; tell her to Pass the HEROES Act.
It’s been over two months since the U.S. House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act extending unemployment benefits through Jan. 31, 2021, and funding state and local services to prevent further job losses. The U.S. Senate should’ve passed the Heroes Act weeks ago. Sadly, the Senate instead went on vacation! Their foot-dragging must stop:
Call Senator Collins. 844-311-7810. Tell her: Pass the HEROES Act!
Here’s what the Kennebec Journal, Central Maine Morning Sentinel and Portland Press Herald editorial boards said the Senate must do: “It will take something more along the lines of the HEROES Act, a $3 trillion bill passed by House Democrats in May. Among other measures, it would extend enhanced unemployment, and provide assistance and protection to renters and housing providers. It would support small businesses and give local and state governments the money they need to save public jobs and keep schools safe as they attempt to reopen this fall.”
Tell Senator Collins: Pass the HEROES Act immediately. 844-311-7810. Workers can’t wait any longer.
Dean Staffieri, President, MSEA-SEU Local 1989
Whenever the collective bargaining rights of Maine’s public workers have come under attack, the union shipbuilders at Bath Iron Works stood up to defend your right to a voice in your wages, benefits and working conditions. They’ve converged on the State House on short notice for your rights. Now it’s our turn to stand in solidarity with our union siblings at Local S6 who went on strike June 22. Story.
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.
June 3, 2020
Dearest Brothers and Sisters,
The last week has been heartbreaking for our nation. The recent horrific murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor has laid bare, yet again, the pervasive brutality of racism in our nation. These senseless deaths are far too many, in a history that is too long of racism and violence in the United States of America. These great injustices come at the heels of rising violence targeting Asian communities, and at a time when communities of color are already being exposed to and dying at a disproportionate rate from the coronavirus.
These tragic events must strengthen our resolve to become an anti-racist organization. As a union of public workers, social service workers and advocates, we must ensure that government is used to strengthen our communities and ensure justice and equity in our society, not to oppress the historically marginalized. We must build a world where all can prosper and live without fear. We must stand in solidarity with our black, brown and Asian Pacific Islander brothers and sisters whose voices have been silenced for too long.
Standing in Solidarity is not enough. Our collective struggle to free society from racism is work for us all. There is work to be done in our worksites, communities, and within our union to tear down the structures of racism and build, in their place, true unity, justice, and equality. I am feeling heartsick with all that I am witnessing yet I am inspired by the overwhelming mobilization of people across our state and country who are demanding real change. If you are too, please join me in this fight; contact me at Dean.Staffieri@MSEASEIU.ORG.
Dean Staffieri, President, MSEA-SEIU Local 1989
Citing her proven record of advocating for Maine workers, active and retired, members of the Maine Service Employees Association, Local 1989 of the Service Employees International Union, announced their support for Maine House of Representatives Speaker Sara Gideon for U.S. Senate. MSEA-SEIU members cited Speaker Gideon’s leadership, her votes for quality, affordable healthcare and prescription drug coverage for all Mainers, her leadership in funding quality services for all Maine people, her record of defending and supporting the rights of all workers to have a voice at work, and her determination to meet the state’s responsibility to retired public workers in announcing their support for her election as U.S. Senator. In this file photo from 2014, Sara stands with our beloved late MSEA-SEIU Retiree Member Wayne Hollingworth of Freeport. Wayne’s legacy, in addition to leading union meetings in singing “Solidarity Forever,” is his keen understanding of the importance of electing proven leaders like Sara Gideon to public office. Read our announcement here.
MSEA-SEIU members who work for the Maine People’s Alliance, Maine’s largest community action organization in Maine, on June 3 ratified a new three-and-a-half year contract. It addresses key issues they identified in their worksites. Key gains include increasing the salaried floor from $30,000 to $36,000, increasing the hourly pay floor from $14 to $17, and adding five new holidays: the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Story.
When it comes to advocating for Maine workers, active and retired, and for quality services for all Maine people, there’s no greater champion than State Senator Shenna Bellows of Manchester (shown at podium in this 2019 file photo with State Rep. Scott Cuddy and MSEA-SEIU Retiree Member Steve Butterfield). Since her first election to the Maine Senate in 2016, Senator Bellows has consistently stood up for all of us on responsible budgets that fund and staff public services from public health nurses to the Maine Office of Child and Family Services within the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. She’s stood up for us on protecting the retiree pension cost of living adjustment. She’s stood up for us on protecting workers during the COVID-19 outbreak. Now it’s our turn to stand up for Senator Bellows. She has earned your vote for reelection in the July 14 primary elections. Please vote to reelect Shenna Bellows. Read our announcement here. You can vote early and from your home! Request an absentee ballot electronically using the Secretary of State’s approved online form found here.
Take action today to build on the efforts of state workers who’ve been speaking up over the last year about health and safety concerns such as asbestos, lead and mold in state buildings. We all know the problem: The State of Maine is filled with older buildings that have for many years been in decline. It’s past time for solutions. Tell your legislators:
- No one should be forced to work in sick buildings with asbestos, lead or mold. Yet for years that’s been the reality for scores of State of Maine workers.
- Support LD 1969, An Act to Protect State Workers from Exposure to Carcinogens, sponsored by Representative Thom Harnett, and fund the ongoing investments in the Supplemental Budget.
- LD 1969 would identify and catalog problem buildings and related testing. It would create new standards relating to contaminants and improve testing requirements. It would improve the ability of workers to raise and resolve safety concerns.
Dean Staffieri, President, MSEA-SEIU Local 1989
State Representative Mike Sylvester on January 29 introduces LD 1959, An Act To Include within the Definition of “Public Employee” Those Who Have Been Employed Less than 6 Months. We support LD 1959 for equitable treatment for all of Maine’s public workers. Read our testimony in support of LD 1959 here.
Detail of the danger sign posted on an entrance to Camp Keyes, Augusta, as seen Jan. 9, 2020.
At our request, Representative Harnett is sponsoring LD 1969, An Act to Protect State Workers from Exposure to Carcinogens. The Committee on State and Local Government will hold a hearing on LD 1969 at 10 a.m. Jan. 22 in Cross Office Building Room 214. LD 1969 would identify and catalog problem buildings and related testing. It would create new standards relating to contaminant levels and improve testing requirements. It would improve the ability of workers to raise and resolve safety concerns. Story.
After working over 20 years for Maine DOT, former MSEA-SEIU member Randy Bodge was denied disability retirement from the Maine Public Employees Retirement System even though he provided documentation of his stage-four cancer diagnosis in 2013. He’s supporting LD 1978 reforming the disability-retirement process. The Committee on Labor and Housing will hold a hearing on LD 1978 at 2 p.m. Jan. 29 in Cross Office Building Room 202. Story.
Retiree COLA protected: LD 1104, the legislation protecting the MainePERS retiree cost of living adjustment (COLA), has become law. Sponsored by Representative Michelle Dunphy, LD 1104 protects the retiree COLA in statute. This victory, won by hundreds of MSEA-SEIU members and allies who spoke with their legislators and the Governor, will go a long way toward helping current and future retirees keep up with the cost of living. Please thank the legislative leaders instrumental in making LD 1104 become law. Email them using this link. Click here for the full story on our two retirement-security victories and info on the three retirement-security proposals we’re supporting this short legislative session.
Attention Members! The MSEA-SEIU Retirees Steering Committee will present the 8th Annual MSEA-SEIU Lifetime Achievement Award to a retiree member during our 33rd Annual MSEA-SEIU Retirees Day on Tuesday, May 26, at Augusta Civic Center. Anyone can nominate a retiree member of our union for this award; here’s the nomination form. Print it out, complete it and send it in. Deadline for nominations: April 17.
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.
Check out our 2019 Legislative Scorecard for the 129th Maine Legislature shown below to see whether your State Senator and State Rep voted for or against MSEA and workers on key issues we tracked.