President Welton’s column —

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MSEA-SEIU President Ramona Welton explains to Maine AFL-CIO Labor Lobby Day participants that the Governor has proposed to lay off at least 265 state workers and eliminate at least 208 vacant positions. Instead of eliminating jobs, the Governor should be filling them by hiring workers, she said. President Welton also asked the Labor Lobby Day participants to talk with their legislators about how the Governor’s bad budget harms seniors with his proposed two-year freeze on the retiree cost of living adjustment for retired state workers and retired teachers.

Now is the time to step up for yourself, your coworkers

April 13, 2017

By Ramona Welton
President, MSEA-SEIU Local 1989

Members of our union have gone through several turbulent months working to reduce the harm the Governor’s proposed state budget would cause Maine people.

Your coworkers, retirees, staff and allies have been testifying before legislative committees and asking their state senators and state representatives to reject the Governor’s bad budget. Together, we have been asking legislators to start with the current baseline budget and build from there. There is still a lot of work to be done. Each of us has a role in making sure the Legislature passes a responsible state budget.

The Governor’s proposed budget is bad. The Governor wants to lay off at least 265 state workers. These are real people providing real services to Maine people. They are your coworkers and your neighbors.

Your coworkers and MSEA-SEIU staff have been talking with members of legislative committees, including, but not limited to, the Health and Human Services Committee, the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, and the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee, urging them to oppose the Governor’s proposed layoffs. This work is continuing; see Pages 3, 5 and 6 of the April 13 Maine Stater for details.

In addition to proposing the layoffs of 265 state workers, the Governor also is proposing to eliminate at least 208 vacant positions. We have been urging legislators to continue funding these positions because they are necessary to ensure quality public services for Maine people. Everyone in our worksites is dramatically affected by vacancies through heavier workloads.

Members of our union also are working with coalition partners to defend Maine’s minimum wage law and the surcharge on Maine’s wealthiest residents for our schools. Nationwide, working families and retirees are banding together in support of a range of causes. Workers’ rights, women’s reproductive rights, refugees and quality, affordable healthcare are among the issues that people nationwide are organizing around.

This is not the time for any of us to step back. This is the time for each of us to step up. Each of us can find the strength needed to step up, not just for ourselves but for our coworkers, for our communities, for all Maine people and for everyone across our nation.

You and I have an opportunity in May to step up. If you aren’t already a member of MSEA-SEIU Local 1989, please become a member as part of our May 2017 Membership Drive. Take advantage of the Open Enrollment in the MSEA Income Protection Plan. This is your opportunity to protect your income against injuries or illness as a benefit of membership in MSEA-SEIU Local 1989. Join today.

Then in the coming days, weeks and months, join fellow members of MSEA-SEIU Local 1989 as we go to the State House in support of a responsible state budget, one that funds the public services Maine people count on. Bring your friends. Bring your family.

Many of our members are at the bargaining table. As this Stater was going to press, members at our City of Lewiston and Lewiston Schools bargaining units were submitting online bargaining proposals by their April 20 deadline. If your expiring contract is up for renegotiation, please be sure to show your support for your bargaining team. Read more about bargaining on Pages 4 and 5 of the April 13 Maine Stater.

If you’re a retiree member, join us Tuesday, May 30, for our annual Retirees Day at the Augusta Civic Center. Registration cards will be mailed in late April. We’re looking forward to hearing more stories of retiree members about why they joined MSEA and the difference union membership made in their lives. Many of you told your stories at our 2016 Annual Meeting. If you’re a retiree member and you haven’t yet told your story, consider telling it at Retirees Day.

Updated: April 14, 2017 — 11:57 am
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