We all have stories to tell; our state legislators need to hear them

By Dean Staffieri
President, MSEA-SEIU Local 1989

On behalf of our union, I wish you and your family a safe, healthy and joyous New Year as we continue our advocacy for Maine workers, active and retired. We’ve got an exciting year coming up with many opportunities to continue building power for workers. We need your participation so we can keep winning for all of us.

The short session of the 129th Maine Legislature has begun. It’s our opportunity to address, through the legislative process, key issues raised by many of you and your fellow MSEA-SEIU members. These include proposals on retirement security, sick buildings, the need to reform the disability-retirement process at the Maine Public Employees Retirement System, the need for a career path for adjuncts in the Maine Community College System and the University of Maine System, protecting taxpayers against privatization schemes, and the need to strengthen workers’ rights.

We all have stories to tell that can help build legislative support on these issues, so please reach out to your respective state senators and state representatives. Your voice matters, and when you tell your stories to them, it makes a difference. In fact, your conversations with your legislators in support of our legislative initiatives are how we win on our issues.

One person speaking out and telling his story, Randy Bodge, is helping to build legislative support for LD 1978, An Act to Improve the Disability Retirement Program of MainePERS, sponsored by Senator David Miramant. Randy is a former MSEA-SEIU member who worked on bridges for Maine DOT for over 20 years until he was diagnosed with stage-four cancer in 2013. MainePERS denied his disability-retirement claim despite his medical condition. Even as he continues to undergo chemotherapy treatments, he’s fighting for reform. Please read Randy’s story here. Then think about the story you can share with your state legislators in support of our issues. 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.

Another issue we’re fighting for is one that many of you have raised in worksite surveys, actions and grievances: sick buildings. We’re supporting LD 1969, An Act to Protect State Workers from Exposure to Carcinogens, sponsored by Representative Thom Harnett. As the Stater was going to press, the State and Local Government Committee scheduled a hearing on LD 1969 for 10 a.m. Jan. 22 in Cross Office Building 214. We’ll be there in support.

Together, we really can make our voice heard. Join me and your fellow members at the State House for our MSEA-SEIU Member Visibility Days. We’ll gather at 9:30 a.m. in the hallway just past Security on the following dates: Jan. 30, Feb. 13, Feb. 27, March 26, April 9, and April 23. Sign up here.

2019 was a great year for our members. Because of our advocacy during last year’s legislative session and at the bargaining table, we made progress on pay and staffing levels. We increased funding for the services our members provide in Child Development Services, Governor Baxter School for the Deaf, the Maine Community College System, and Maine Maritime Academy. The 2019 Legislature also protected the retiree COLA, respected the retiree COLA process, removed restrictions in state law on retirees returning to work, and improved the retirement-calculation process.

Let’s keep winning in 2020 and beyond! Help us keep winning by electing pro-worker candidates in 2020. Key dates: March 3: Presidential Primary Election and Special State Referendum Election. June 9: State Primary Election. Nov. 3: General Elections.

Please pay attention to what the presidential candidates are saying and where they stand; look them up on this resource from our international Union, SEIU.

The way we win is to make our voice heard. I’m here for you. Call me anytime at 207-622-3151 ext. 1135 or email me.

In the meantime, we’re starting something new directly below called Lillian’s Corner (see her photo at bottom). Check her out:

Lillian’s Corner
Hey there!!! I AM LILLIAN! It’s great joining the team at headquarter….so much to sniff, hear, see and taste! I roared a few times just to let everyone to know I am here! I came from Massachusetts where I was abandoned and then liberated and succored by PittieLove Rescue. My caregivers are Dean and Bekka. Dean asked me to say something profound in my first column……so here goes. In spite of my ferocious looks, I believe that “to be gentle shows the greatest of strength.” Until next time……WOOF!!!

Updated: January 16, 2020 — 1:46 PM