The Legislature passed the retirement security legislation known as LD 1104 ensuring the state and teacher retiree cost of living adjustment (COLA) is protected in statute. However, Gov. Mills has chosen to hold LD 1104 on her desk until January 2020.
The Governor campaigned on protecting the retiree COLA. She needs to hear from you about the importance of protecting the retiree COLA. Call Gov. Mills at 207-287-6548. Email Gov. Mills here — tell her to let LD 1104 become law.
MSEA-SEIU members who work as Adult Protective Caseworkers for Maine DHHS talk with State Rep. Ryan Tipping-Spitz in support of pay equity for all DHHS caseworkers.
2019 session of the 129th Maine Legislature —
Real progress on our issues; keep up pressure
You and your coworkers spoke up – and Maine’s elected leaders listened. While there is a lot left to do, together, we made real progress in the 2019 legislative session.
From testifying at the State House to talking with state legislators and the Governor, we demanded solutions to the pervasive recruitment and retention issues in state government. The enacted two-year state budget and the laws we passed address many of the concerns members raised over the past year:
Understaffing: The budget funds 62 new Child Protective Worker positions, 48 new positions for a new inpatient unit at Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center, 18 new positions in the Department of Education, 12 new positions in the Department of the Attorney General, eight new mental health crisis worker positions for people with developmental disabilities and four new Computer Crimes Task Force positions.
Better working conditions: State park rangers and managers will receive the training they need to protect Maine people and the parks (LD 1246 signed into law). Caseload standards will be implemented for child protective caseworkers in the Maine Office of Child and Family Services within DHHS (LD 821 signed into law), addressing the impossible caseloads they’ve been experiencing.
Contracts funded: The budget funds the contractual agreements ratified by our members in the Executive and Judicial branches of Maine State Government.
Increased funding for CDS, Governor Baxter School for the Deaf, MCCS, Maine Maritime Academy: The budget increases funding by $3 million for Child Development Services, where our members ratified a new contract with substantial raises. The budget increases, by 3.35 percent each fiscal year, funding for the work our members do for the Maine Community College System and Maine Maritime Academy. It also increases funding by $1.7 million for the Governor Baxter School for the Deaf/MECDHH.
Statewide investments: The budget invests in local schools, adding $111 million in state aid for education. It makes progress on property tax relief by increasing the Homestead Exemption to $25,000. It increases revenue sharing. It strengthens the Property Tax Fairness Credit, benefiting 13,000 low-income Mainers.
To be sure, we’re disappointed Gov. Mills vetoed LD 1177, which would have strengthened collective bargaining rights by making arbitration binding on key economic issues for public workers. The rights of public workers need to be strengthened to defend our families and the services we provide to the people of Maine. We will keep fighting to strengthen collective bargaining rights.
On the whole, we can all take real pride in the progress our members made this legislative session. Congratulations go to all of you who spoke up in support of public services, public workers and retirement security. Let’s keep up the pressure to win for public services, public workers and retirees — and to hold all elected officials accountable.
MSEA-SEIU members and staff joined Governor Mills in the signing ceremony for LD 821, which sets caseload standards for Child Protective Caseworkers in the Maine DHHS Office of Child and Family Services.
Important legislation carried over to the January 2020 legislative session—
Protect CDS, prevent privatization, strengthen workers’ rights
Several legislative proposals impacting public services and public workers have been carried over to the January 2020 legislative session:
Protect Child Development Services (CDS): MSEA-SEIU members at CDS pushed back and opposed LD 1715, which would dissolve CDS without any plan in place. CDS provides crucial services newborns through age 5 and their families so they can make the best of their public education.
Prevent privatization: We support LD 1458, An Act to Protect Maine Taxpayers in the Privatization of Public Services, sponsored by State Senator Shenna Bellows. LD 1458 establishes a process before a state agency can enter into a privatization contract.
Strengthen workers’ rights: We support LD 900, An Act To Expand the Rights of Public Employees under the Maine Labor Laws, sponsored by State Rep. Mike Sylvester. LD 900 would give more power to Maine’s public workers by providing them with the right to strike. Workers in critical public safety roles, such as law enforcement and firefighters, are exempted from the bill. To be sure, nobody wants to strike. It’s an option of last resort when workers have exhausted all other means to defend themselves, their families, and their communities.
Strengthen retirement security: We support LD 1355, sponsored by State Senator Bill Diamond, to expand the 1988 special retirement plan to civilian employees in the State Police Crime Lab and the State Police Computer Crimes Unit. While the Maine House and the Maine Senate approved this legislation, it was held up by the Appropriations Committee for funding and carried over to the January 2020 legislative session.
Stay tuned! The 2019 MSEA-SEIU Legislative Scorecard will be published in your next Maine Stater. It will list how your state senator and state representative voted on key votes we are tracking.