President Welton’s column —

Keep the momentum going for working families, retirees

Dec. 7, 2017

By Ramona Welton
President, MSEA-SEIU Local 1989

Every day we go to work and on many days our work goes unnoticed. Often it seems like we’re only noticed when there’s a problem. I want to take this opportunity to thank every one of you for the work you do, or have done, for Maine people. Thank you also for what you do every day for your community and for your union. Together We are Stronger!

MANY OF YOU STEPPED UP IN 2017
This year, many of you stepped up in support of Maine workers, retirees and quality public services. Over the summer, you demanded passage of a fair budget ending the state shutdown. In October, nearly 200 of you served as delegates at our 74th Annual Meeting. As you will read in this Stater, delegates approved our 2018 General Operating Budget. They also passed a special resolution titled “MSEA is ME.” This resolution, printed on Page 7, is your call to action for 2018:

“MSEA is committed to fighting against all attacks on our ability to be a voice for all workers across Maine, that MSEA is committed to maintaining our strength in every single worksite by increasing membership and developing new leaders. By speaking with a unified voice MSEA will make our presence known at the worksite, at the State House and in our communities. MSEA’s members, leaders and staff will devote every effort to amplify the voice of Maine’s workers and working families to ensure that ‘Together We Rise’ in each MSEA bargaining unit and chapter, and that we stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers fighting for workers’ rights across the country.”

Delegates signed recommit cards in which they pledged their continued support for our union. They left our Annual Meeting energized, pledging to talk with coworkers about what’s at stake in 2018 and why we need to stick together as union members.

We also had an impact on our lives Nov. 7 when Maine voters approved all three MSEA-SEIU-endorsed ballot questions: Question 4 for retirement security; Question 3, the transportation bond; and Question 2 for more affordable healthcare.

Many of you collected signatures a year ago to put Question 2 on the ballot. You also talked with your friends, neighbors and coworkers in support of Questions 4, 3 and 2. Thank you to everyone who advocated for, and voted for, Questions 4, 3 and 2.

CHANGES AT THE UNION HALL
Change is happening at our union headquarters. This month brings the retirement of two longtime MSEA-SEIU staffers: Director of Information Services Steve Butterfield, who has worked for us for over 42 years; and Account Clerk Carmen Gardner, who has worked for us for over 40 years. Congratulations to Steve and Carmen. They certainly earned their retirements. Read more on Page 20 of the Dec. 7 edition of the Maine Stater.

ALL HANDS ON DECK TO WIN IN 2018
We are a member-driven union. If you haven’t yet stepped up to participate in your union, please do so. Opportunities abound and it’s all hands on deck if we are to win in 2018. Stay informed by joining our email-alert system. Click on the “Stay Informed” button on our website at mseaseiu.org to join it. Also, I am appointing members to our many union committees for 2018. Email me at ramona.welton@mseaseiu.org if you’d like to serve on a union committee.

The short session of the 128th Maine Legislature begins in January. We will monitor any and all legislation impacting quality public services, Maine workers, and retirees.

We will continue pushing for funding for quality public services. Currently the Governor is refusing $8.4 million in federal funds for job retraining for laid-off workers. This is unacceptable. It’s difficult for Maine people to receive the services they need when the Governor refuses to accept the funding.

In 2018 with the Governor’s race, we have an opportunity to impact who will be our bosses in the coming years. In addition to electing a new Governor, we also will elect a U.S. senator, two members of Congress, and the 129th Maine Legislature in the Nov. 6, 2018, General Elections.

Challenges abound at the national level. In 2018, the Supreme Court is expected to decide on the anti-worker Janus case impacting labor unions. We need to keep fighting back against harmful legislation in Congress. There’s no shortage of bad legislation, from the GOP Tax Scam to awful healthcare legislation. The Trump administration is pushing immigration policies threatening hundreds of thousands of immigrants working in our great nation. All workers need to stick up for each other.

Fortunately many of you are stepping up by participating in our union’s political action program, PASER, Political Action by Service Employees and Retirees. PASER members led the way in ending the state shutdown and passing a state budget last summer. Through PASER, members of our union advocate for workers and retirees, educate the public on what legislators are doing, and support pro-worker candidates. I’m proud be a PASER member. Join me in participating in PASER. To join PASER, contact MSEA-SEIU Director of Politics and Legislation Mary Anne Turowski at maryanne.turowski@mseaseiu.org 622-3151 ext. 1133.

We face a tall order in 2018, but together we can win as we have done so before. Together We are Stronger!

Updated: December 11, 2017 — 3:00 pm
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