President Welton’s column —

In 2019, let’s keep winning for our members, quality services

November 29, 2018

By Ramona Welton
President, MSEA-SEIU Local 1989

At our 75th Annual Meeting, elected MSEA-SEIU delegates decided to invest in our union. They resolved to strengthen quality services in Maine and improve the quality of life for all of us by approving the Fight Forward initiative recommended by our Finance Committee and approved by our Board of Directors.

With our Fight Forward initiative, we will take a lead role in the movement to build enduring services all Mainers can count on. You, our members, are the ones who ensure Maine’s air and water are clean, and Maine’s highways and bridges are safe. You look after vulnerable, neglected or abused children and seniors. You are on the other end of the line when Mainers have an emergency. The people of Maine are counting on all of us to speak up for our communities, to alert them of problems in delivering quality services, and to recommend solutions. This is the course MSEA-SEIU delegates have charted for our union, and our work already is under way.

Throughout Maine, workers and retirees made progress in 2018. Because of the hard work by everyone who supported and defended Maine’s voter-approved minimum wage law, Maine’s minimum wage increased to $10 at the start of 2018. It increases to $11 on Jan. 1, 2019.

The voter-approved Medicaid expansion is law; Governor-elect Janet Mills has pledged to implement it, providing healthcare to over 75,000 Mainers.

2018 brought out front-line workers in support of better serving the people of Maine. The year started with all Mainers shocked by the deaths of two Maine children from child abuse and the exposure of many problems that management at Maine DHHS wasn’t addressing. Our members who work for the Maine DHHS Office of Child and Family Services acted to improve child and family services, and their work is continuing into 2019. Members ranging from 911 dispatchers to Child Development Services workers also are speaking up for quality services.

This year brought good news for retirees in the form of cost of living adjustment, or COLA, increases that took effect in September.

Many MSEA-SEIU members are preparing to bargain new contracts covering most of our membership in 2019. They are completing surveys about issues in their worksites. They are preparing for the bargaining table. All of this work continues into 2019.

Our hard work to elect leaders who respect workers and understand the importance of quality services resulted in the election of Janet Mills as Maine’s next governor and many other MSEA-SEIU-endorsed candidates. The election of Governor-elect Mills and a pro-worker Legislature marks a new day and a new beginning for Maine. We have an opportunity to address many issues important to you, including the recruitment and retention of Maine DOT transportation workers, both through legislation and through contract bargaining.

MSEA-SEIU members have a long history of community service year-round, including the holidays. Our union is proud to provide financial support to Food AND Medicine’s Annual Solidarity Harvest, which this year provided over 1,3000 Thanksgiving dinner baskets to struggling Mainers. From Retiree Member Loren Snow to working Member Tamra Keaton, many MSEA-SEIU members volunteer with the Solidarity Harvest. Over the past few weeks, members of the Capitol Western Chapter held a food drive for the Augusta Food Bank. Members of our Area II chapters are planning their annual Children’s Holiday Party. Our members also consistently support scores of community organizations through charitable giving. This speaks to the kindness and caring of every one of you, and for that I am grateful.  Have a safe and joyous holiday season.

Updated: December 3, 2018 — 2:16 pm
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