Maine Coalition Submits Signatures to Put Minimum Wage Increase on 2016 Ballot

Posted on January 18, 2016. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

Last Thursday, Mainers for Fair Wages submitted 75,000 plus verified signatures to Secretary of State Dunlap’s office to place a minimum wage increase on the November ballot. Supporters and signature gatherers assembled for a rally in the State House’s Hall of Flags.

Mainers for Fair Wages, a coalition including the Maine People’s Alliance, Maine Small Business Coalition, and Maine AFL-CIO, launched the petition process for a citizen initiative to raise Maine’s minimum wage in June. If passed, the initiative would increase the minimum wage to $9 per hour in 2017 and then by $1 a year until it reaches $12 by 2020. After that the wage would increase at the same rate as the cost of living. The initiative would also incrementally raise the sub-minimum tipped wage until it matches the minimum wage for all other workers by 2024.

Speakers included:

  • Adam Lee – Chairman, Lee Automalls, Auburn

  • Benjamin Waxman – Co-owner, American Roots, Portland
  • April Thibodeau – Volunteer and restaurant server, Westport Island
  • Adelaide Manirakiza – Homecare worker, Westbrook

Prepared remarks of other speakers:

  • Katie Logue, Auburn: “I work at a convenience store for just over the state minimum wage and I struggle to support myself and my family. When you’re this close to the edge, one emergency can ruin everything. It wasn’t too long ago that we were forced to live in a homeless shelter, while I was working full time but unable to keep up with the bills. It just isn’t right that there are people like me all over the state who are working hard every day but can’t get ahead. That’s why I helped to collect hundreds of signatures to get this measure on the ballot, boost our state economy and help tens of thousands of struggling Mainers.”

    fair

  • Melissa Stevens, Lewiston: “I’m a single mother and I know what it’s like to work low wage jobs and not be able to make ends meet. On $8 an hour it was impossible to afford basic necessities for my family like childcare, transportation and keeping a roof over our heads. While I was working full time I still needed to rely on food assistance to be able to feed my family. I joined the minimum wage campaign last fall to collect signatures to support this initiative and I am thrilled to be here today with so many community leaders from all walks of life as we submit far more than enough signatures to place this referendum on the ballot.”
  • Esther Pew, Portland: “I am working as a tipped worker at a restaurant and a boost in my base wage would mean that I would not have to rely solely on tips in order to support myself. It’s hard to stick to a budget and be financially responsible when your wages can fluctuate drastically from one shift to the next. Getting a steady paycheck from my employer, and not just tips from my customers, would be a boost for me and thousands of tipped workers, mostly women, working in restaurants all over Maine.”
  • Tyler Williams, Bangor: “From the time I was 15, I’ve had to work a number of minimum wage jobs to help my family make ends meet. As the breadwinner, I was responsible, as a child, for making sure the heat stayed on through the winter, and unfortunately, I often failed in this endeavor. Recently, I was forced to drop out of school because minimum wage, does not pay enough to get necessities, much less to pay tuition, too. This is the true tragedy of having such a low minimum wage. No one should have to choose between an education and a pittance. Hard work is supposed to give you the opportunity to pull yourself out of poverty, but $7.50 doesn’t help you out of poverty. It keeps you in it.”

    sfa

  • Brandy Staples, Phippsburg: “When I was 26, I was diagnosed with aggressive stage four breast cancer. I had to leave the workforce for in order to deal with it and regain my health and strength. Since then, I have had a hard time finding dependable and livable wage work that allows me to make ends meet while still paying off huge amounts of medical debt. I currently work two part time jobs at very close to minimum wage, plus I help my parents with their business. With these three jobs, I still don’t make enough to get by. I heard similar stories all the time while I was collecting signatures to get this initiative on the ballot. That’s what motivated me to collected more than 600 signatures last summer and fall. Raising Maine’s minimum wage to $12/hour will help me get on my feet and will help so many others like me.”

The Secretary of State’s office has 30 days to review the petitions and refer the matter to the Legislature to either enact without change or allow placement on the November ballot.

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Trio of New Maine Unions Announced

Posted on January 18, 2016. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

Maine AFL-CIO announced the formation of two new unions last week:

Also organizing are the employees at McTeague-Higbee in Topsham. Their press release is below.

    “JUSTICE FOR ALL”
    Local Law Firm Employees Ratify Labor Agreement

    mcteagueTOPSHAM, MAINE. Legal professionals at McTeague-Higbee, a highly-regarded law firm that has represented organized labor in Maine for decades, and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) have completed negotiation of their second 3-year collective bargaining agreement. The Topsham law firm specializes in employee/plaintiff-oriented labor law, workers’ compensation, discrimination, and personal injury cases. The IAMAW has a reputation for being one of the most diversified labor unions in North America.

    Although negotiation of its first contract was challenging, the negotiation of the second contract took less than 8 hours of negotiation before agreement was reached. The contract was ratified unanimously by the members.

    Law firm managing partner Kevin Noonan, stated, “McTeague Higbee has a long history of fighting for workers’ rights, and we are pleased to take this to a new level. We are very proud to be the only unionized law firm in the entire State of Maine. By fully embracing unionization of our staff, we are doing our best to live up to our own motto: Justice for All.”

    The new 3-year accord features wage increases of 3.25% the first year and 3% in each of the next two years, as well as increased contributions to the IAM pension plan, and continuation of the IAM Benefits Trust Healthcare Plan, grievance and arbitration procedures, seniority provisions, and paid time off.

    “We attribute this excellent result to both the effective negotiation skills of George Edwards, Assistant Directing Business Representative of IAMAW District Lodge 4 and the law firm’s good-faith approach to negotiating this contract. The firm has demonstrated an awareness that collective bargaining is good for both sides of the table and we are hopeful McTeague Higbee will serve as a role model for other employers,” said paralegal and bargaining committee member Carol Sanborn.

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LCRED Committee Takes Up 8 Minimum Wage Bills in Public Hearing

Posted on March 24, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

DSC_0010On Monday the 127th Maine Legislature’s Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development (LCRED) Committee heard testimony on eight bills relating to modifying the state’s minimum wage, which currently sits at $7.50 an hour and has not been increased since 2006. A bill to raise it was passed by the 126th Legislature last year, but was vetoed by Governor LePage and later sustained.

Link here to the bills:

  • LD 36 (sponsored by Rep. Jeff Evangelos)
  • LD 52 (sponsored by Rep. Danny Martin)
  • LD 72 (sponsored by Rep. Scott Hamann)
  • LD 77 (sponsored by Sen. Dave Miramant)
  • LD 92 (sponsored by Rep. Dillon Bates)
  • LD 487 (sponsored by Rep. Ben Chipman)
  • LD 843 (sponsored by Rep. Gina Melaragno)
  • LD 739 (sponsored by Sen. Tom Saviello)

Some of the statements released yesterday are below.

    Rep. Gina Melaragno (D-Auburn): “Maine workers find themselves working at least full time but still living in or near poverty, while having to care for their families at the same time. They have seen the prices of everything go up except the price of their undervalued labor, and they are tired of being thrown a small token raise every five or six years. They want meaningful, lasting change.”

    DSC_0014Sen. Dave Miramant (D-Camden): “When I looked back at the value of the minimum wage, it hit an all-time high just as I was starting to work in 1969. The minimum wage was $1.60 per hour but that gave me the equivalent of a $10.19 wage in 2015 dollars. This is why we were able to start a large middle class through this period. We have been falling behind ever since! Because we have failed to tie the minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), or some reliable method of indexing it to inflation, workers are being left behind in this state and in many others. The jobs that were supposed to be entry level and only short term have become an ongoing reality for far too many workers in our hobbled economy.”

    Matt Schlobohm, Maine AFL-CIO Executive Director: “People who work full time should not live in poverty. People who work hard should be able to earn enough to make ends meet. It’s long overdue that Maine workers get a raise. A meaningful increase in the minimum wage would improve the wages of hundreds of thousands of Mainers. It would spur economic activity and pump millions of dollars into the Maine economy. Its good economics, its the right thing to do, and it’s long overdue. We need to raise wages across the board. All throughout Maine, working families are living paycheck to paycheck and struggling to make ends meet. Workers wages are simply not keeping pace with rising costs. Raising the minimum wage is a first step in a larger effort to build an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few.”

    100_5797Ben Chin, political director for Maine Peoples Alliance: “I’m here today to testify primarily in support of LD 843, “An Act to Raise the Minimum Wage and Index it to the National Average Wage,” sponsored by Rep Melaragno. We (MPA) believe that LDs 36, 52, 72, 77, 92, 487, and 739 offer encouraging steps in the right direction. But LD 843 offers the most significant movement towards a living wage for all Maine workers. The reality is that need an even larger increase than what LD 843 offers. A living wage in Maine for a single adult, on average, is $15.82. Fifty-five percent of job openings in Maine pay less than that. For every job that pays $15.82, there are twelve job-seekers on average. The most basic premise of the American economic social contract is that you can work forty hours a week and make ends meet. Our minimum wage of $7.50 an hour for non-tipped workers doesn’t get an individual even halfway there—let alone their families.”

    Ginette Rivard, President of MSEA-SEIU Local 1989: “Five and a half years ago years ago, on Oct. 1, 2009, Maine added 25 cents to its minimum wage, bringing it to $7.50 an hour. It’s been stuck there ever since – even as the cost of living has gone up for all of us.

    Take a look at what is happening in the rest of New England and you’ll see the State of Maine – and thousands of Maine’s working families – have fallen far behind when it comes to the minimum wage.

    100_5793Vermont’s minimum wage is $9.15 – and rising to $10.50 in 2018.
    In Massachusetts, the wage is $9 – and rising to $11 in 2017.
    In Rhode Island, the wage is $9.
    And in Connecticut, the wage is $9.15 – and rising to $10.10 in 2017.

    Yet Maine has been stuck at $7.50. Maine would be dead last in New England but for New Hampshire joining in a dangerous race to the bottom by falling back to the federal minimum wage of $7.25. A Maine worker putting in 40 hours at minimum wage grosses $300 a week. That’s $15,600 a year, before taxes. That’s not nearly enough for one person to live on, let alone a family.”

Here in order are videos (ten in all) of the entire day in LCRED.

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Emerge Maine To Honor Senator Dawn Hill and Representative Peggy Rotundo as 2014 Women of the Year

Posted on March 20, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

Via press release:

Emerge Maine To Honor Senator Dawn Hill and Representative Peggy Rotundo as 2014 Women of the Year
AFL­CIO organizer Sarah Bigney named 2014 Rising Star

Senator Dawn Hill and Rep. Peggy Rotundo, chairs of the legislature's Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, listen to testimony at a public hearing.

Senator Dawn Hill and Rep. Peggy Rotundo, chairs of the legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, listen to testimony at a public hearing.

Portland­­- Emerge Maine, the premier political training program for Maine Democratic women, has named State Senator Dawn Hill of Cape Neddick and State Representative Peggy Rotundo of Lewiston as the 2014 Women of the Year. Previous Emerge Women of the Year are Clerk of the House Millie MacFarland (2010), the Honorable Libby MItchell (2011), Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (2012), and Attorney General Janet Mills (2013).

Senator Hill and Representative Rotundo chair the Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, the state’s budget­writing committee. In an economically challenging and contentious political environment, they lead by example demonstrating a strong commitment to bipartisanship, working together, and civility in politics. Under their leadership, the Appropriations Committee unanimously recommended a bipartisan budget that was approved by more than two­ thirds of lawmakers in the House and the Senate during initial votes and again during subsequent votes to override Governor LePage’s veto of the budget.

    “Senator Hill and Representative Rotundo exemplify what it means to engage in civil discourse in politics,” said Jill Barkley, the Executive Director of Emerge Maine. “These two incredible women have worked together to create and maintain our state’s budget while fielding more than one funding crisis. They remain calm and committed to the best outcome for our state. We are thankful for their leadership.”

dawn hillSenator Hill, a non practicing attorney, is currently serving her second term as State Senator representing Eliot, Kittery, Ogunquit, South Berwick, and York. Prior to her time in the Senate, she served two terms in the State House representing York. In May 2008, she graduated from the prestigious “Leadership Maine,” a program of the Maine Development Foundation, in the Omicron Class.

Senator Hill is the founder and owner of It’s a Dog’s World, a large canine training and activity facility in southern Maine. She also serves on the board of directors for MMG Insurance of Presque Isle, Maine.

    “I’m honored to be named one of Emerge’s women of the year,” said Senator Hill. “It is an even greater honor to share this designation with all of the previous women named, who have worked tirelessly for our great state.”

peggy rotundoRepresentative Rotundo was first elected to the Legislature in 2000. She served four terms in the State Senate and is currently serving her third term in the State House representing part of the city of Lewiston. During her time in the Legislature, she has sponsored legislation that has created greater public access to government information, a cleaner environment, greater educational opportunities for all Maine people and better services for veterans and the elderly.

She has also led in creating bipartisan state budgets. Rep. Rotundo has won numerous awards for her work on these issues and for her work in creating civil and respectful public discourse. Prior to her service in the Legislature, she served on the Lewiston School Committee, which she chaired for four years.

Representative Rotundo helped found the Center for Service­ Learning at Bates College in Lewiston in 1995, which has become a nationally recognized program that connects Bates students to the community through service. She currently serves as the Director of Strategic and Policy Initiatives for the Bates College Harward Center for Community Partnerships.

    “I am deeply honored to be recognized by Emerge Maine, which has done so much to encourage and support women interested in public service,” said Representative Rotundo. “We all stand on the shoulders of courageous women leaders who have gone before us. We honor their lives and service by encouraging and mentoring the next generation of great women leaders.”

Sarah Bigney and Sen. John Patrick (D-Rumford) at the State House.

Sarah Bigney and Sen. John Patrick (D-Rumford) at the State House.

Emerge Maine will also be honoring Rising Star Sarah Bigney of Hallowell. An Emerge alumna from the Class of 2009, Bigney is Director of Field and Member Mobilization at the Maine AFL­CIO where she advocates for workers’ rights and economic justice. Her work includes supporting the newly formed Maine Lobstering Union and recruiting and training union members to be candidates for the Legislature. She was named the 2014 “Mrs. Paul Bunyan” in her hometown of Bangor.

    “I’m humbled to be recognized by Emerge Maine. The training I completed with Emerge was such a terrific boost when I was first starting out working in politics,” said Bigney. “I greatly value the encouragement and support I receive from this powerful network of women leaders in public service in our state. Together we will make Maine a better place for working families to thrive.”

Emerge Maine is one of fourteen state Emerge programs across the country.

Emerge is committed to increasing the number of Democratic women in office, building a strong network of dedicated women leaders, and creating a pipeline of Democratic candidates at all levels of government. Emerge Maine has 140 alumnae, Emerge Maine alumnae make up ten percent of the House Democratic caucus, and there will be 20 Emerge Maine alumnae running for the State House in 2014.

Senator Hill, Representative Rotundo, and Bigney will be honored at the 2014 Woman of the Year reception Thursday, May 15, at the Senator Inn in Augusta.
###

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BREAKING: Feds Find LePage, MDOL Officials Intervened in Unemployment Hearings (UPDATED X 9, W/ Timeline)

Posted on February 27, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

(5pm UPDATE, x9): Reaction from Maine AFL-CIO President Don Berry:

    “The federal government has confirmed what we knew to be true, that the Governor was wrong to interfere in the unemployment insurance process by asking hearing officers to rule more often in favor of employers. This is another message from Governor LePage to struggling Maine workers that he is not on their side. When you lose your job, times are very tough. Workers need to know they have a fair process to seek the support that they deserve. Instead of kicking them when they are down, we need a Governor who will support laid-off workers getting back on their feet.”

———-

(3:30pm UPDATE, x8): More reactions from Maine lawmakers and first mention of calls for LePage’s impeachment.

Legislative Democrats and their allies were quick to condemn the LePage administration, with Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash, a longtime LePage rival and Democratic candidate for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District seat, calling for his impeachment.

Sen. John Patrick, D-Rumford, who chairs the Legislature’s Labor Committee, said the Department of Labor’s findings came as little surprise.

    “This is a good thing because everyone in Maine knows the governor uses the bully pulpit to express his feelings about his political views and politics,” said Patrick. “After this, I wonder how you can trust the governor to move forward fairly and in an unbiased way. The citizens of Maine expect that whether it’s a Democrat, a Republican or a Green, that we are fair to our businesses and employees.”

Jackson was less guarded in his response.

    “I think he should be impeached,” said Jackson of LePage. “The governor thinks he should be the next [Wisconsin Gov.] Scott Walker, but he should be thinking about being the next [impeached and jailed Illinois Gov.] Rod Blagojevich.”

———-

(2:30pm UPDATE, x7): Here comes the national focus. Via The Nation: “Maine’s Paul LePage Might Just Be the Worst Governor of All”

———-

(2pm UPDATE, x6): U.S. Congressman and Maine Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud took to Facebook and Twitter to issue a statement:

    “Both employers and employees should have confidence that the state is treating them fairly and following the rules. It’s clear from the U.S. Department of Labor’s letter that Gov. LePage allowed his personal bias against Maine workers to create a situation in which impartial hearing officers felt threatened. His actions and the actions of his appointees were inappropriate and reinforce a disturbing pattern of mismanagement and intimidation.” – Mike

———-

(1:45pm UPDATE, x5): Maine Senate and House Democratic leaders and members of the legislature have now issued a press release.

    “For three years we have heard story after story about the Governor’s intimidation and bullying tactics. Today, the cat’s out of the bag. Governor LePage and his political appointees will stoop to any level of intimidation to get what they want,” said Sen. Troy Jackson of Allagash, the Senate Majority Leader.

    “This is further confirmation of the governor’s ongoing mismanagement. He is governing by intimidation,” said House Majority Leader Seth Berry of Bowdoinham. “He is trying to hurt working Mainers.”

The Legislature’s bipartisan Government Oversight Committee has been reviewing the matter since April 2013 and will discuss the Federal Government’s findings during their meeting tomorrow at 9 a.m.

    “The federal investigation shows that our concern about political interference from the administration was legitimate, and validates the need for a closer look at the hearings process generally,” said Senator Emily Cain the Senate Chair of the Government Oversight Committee. “I am not relieved by these findings. There continue to be questions about the lengths to which this administration will go to get its way.”

Rep. Chuck Kruger, the House Chair of the Government Oversight Committee, requested an investigation into the claims of worker intimidation following initial media reports on the March meeting at the Blaine House.

    “At the time we requested the investigation we sought to sort rumor from fact,” said Rep. Kruger. “The federal findings confirm our fears of an attempt to unduly influence hearing officers. We will be reviewing the letter for recommendations and next steps.”

———-

(1:30pm UPDATE, x4): Maine State Employees Union President Ginette Rivard has released a statement:

    Statement by Ginette Rivard, President of the Maine State Employees Association, SEIU Local 1989, Concerning the Report of the United States Solicitor of Labor on Improper Interference by the LePage Administration in the Unemployment Appeals Process:

    “After conducting an exhaustive and careful investigation, the United States Department of Labor issued a report confirming that the LePage Administration sought to unduly influence the decisions of impartial hearing officers employed by the Department of Labor. This report confirmed that the Administration pressured hearing officers to favor employers. The pressure was exerted both directly by the Governor, at a lunch on March 21, and prior to that date by other political appointees.

    “While the conclusions vindicate the earlier claims brought forward by the news media and other sources, the report includes few detailed facts. It recommends that Maine government examine the situation to determine whether additional steps are needed to protect hearing officers from undue political influence.

    “This report confirms that a problem of undue influence existed, both in the March 21 lunch and before. That problem remains, and needs to be addressed. The Governor’s defiant and belligerent response to this report shows that he will not reform his administration on his own. It is time for the Government Oversight Committee to step up to the plate and perform its own investigation into the critical questions that remain:

      1. Did the Administration seek to exert undue influence on the unemployment appeals process, either at the March 21 lunch or at other times?
      2. Are there steps that need to be taken to insulate state workers from political influence?

    “On behalf of MSEA-SEIU and the thousands of state workers we represent, I want to thank the Hearing Officers for their courage in resisting this pressure, and for their dedication to providing a just and prompt hearing process.”

———-

(1pm UPDATE, x3): Maine Department of Labor Commissioner Jeanne Paquette has now issued her own statement:

    “Although this process has generated much controversy, the outcome is positive for both workers and businesses. No one benefits when either employees or employers abuse the system,” stated Commissioner Paquette.

    Maine’s unemployment system by statute gives the authority and responsibility for its adminsistration to the appointed commissioner and the appointed members of the UIC. As commissioner, my job is to ensure not only due process for both employers and employees, but also that the unemployment system is fair, efficient and responsive and follows the law. I appreciate the concerns that both the USDOL and the Blue Ribbon Commission have raised, and I will do my utmost to continue to safeguard both the integrity of the system and the confidence of Maine’s people.”

———-

(12:30 pm UPDATE, x2): Maine Governor Paul LePage issued the following statement moments ago via press release regarding today’s report:

lepage sots angry self

    “The results of the review are no surprise,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “The USDOL confirmed that there are legitimate concerns about the appeals hearings, which echoes the findings in the Blue Ribbon Commission I appointed. The review found that Maine’s appeals system has not been consistent in applying the law.

    “It is also no surprise that the Obama Administration’s Department of Labor is speculating my administration somehow tried to influence the hearings process,” said the Governor. “This issue has been politically motivated from the start, starting with Democratic activists in Maine and reaching all the way to the White House. The USDOL review found no evidence of wrong-doing, but uses conjecture and supposition to come to a conclusion that has no basis in fact. The focus of my administration is to ensure the appeals process is fair and consistent for both Maine employees and employers.”

———

(12 pm UPDATE WITH TIMELINE)

  • 21 Mar 2013- Maine Governor Paul LePage holds a meeting with MDOL officials and employee compensation hearing officers at the Blaine House.
  • 22 Mar- Hearing officer Wayne Reed sends email to chief hearing officer (4/17/13 PPH):

      “In the decades I’ve been doing this work, I’ve never seen anything like it, from either end of the political spectrum,”
      wrote Wayne Reed. “For purposes (of) keeping political pressure/bias out of (a) quasi-judicial process within the Maine Department of Labor, these are dark times.”

    Reed’s supervisor Linda Rogers-Tomer replied:

      “Despite the pressures that are being placed upon us, we still just have to do our jobs, self-insulating from the politics, doing what we think is right and doing that as expeditiously as possible,” Rogers-Tomer wrote. “I know that in this climate it is hard not to second guess ourselves.”

    She then had a phone conversation with Jennifer Duddy, LePage’s lone appointee to the state’s Unemployment Compensation Commission and later emailed Laura Boyett, director of the state Bureau of Unemployment Compensation:

      “I expressed my angst about (Duddy’s) remarks at the (meeting), mostly about it not being the proper forum for that kind of discussion and (that it) blindsided us,” Rogers-Tomer wrote. “(Duddy) was sorry if anyone felt badly about what she said, but that she had no regrets about saying it or saying it in that forum. I am extremely upset right now, so can’t really talk.”

  • Apr 11- Bangor Daily News reports that state employees accuse the Governor of putting pressure on them.
  • Apr 17- Governor LePage announces “Blue Ribbon Commission” to investigate unemployment compensation system.
  • Apr 18- The LePage administration refused to admit that there is a federal investigation into the claims.
  • May 1- U.S. DOL investigating attorney Letitia Sierra arrives in Maine to speak with 13 attendees of the meeting.
  • Jul 11- “Blue Ribbon” panel members named: Augusta resident Daniel Wathen, a Maine Turnpike Authority board member and former chief justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, and George Jabar II, a Kennebec County commissioner and lawyer from Waterville, as co-chairmen of the panel; others are David Walck, owner and franchisee of several Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants, including one in Lincolnville; Shawn Anderson, chief operating officer of Cary Medical Center in Caribou; Christine Hastedt, public policy director for Maine Equal Justice Partners; and Kristin Aiello, managing attorney for the Disability Rights Center of Maine.
  • Dec 10- LePage’s “Blue Ribbon Commission” reports no bias issues within MDOL’s systems.
  • Dec 13- The feds said to be “finishing up” their investigation.
  • Feb 27, 2014- Feds release findings; confirm LePage pushed jobless benefits appeals officers to show ‘bias toward employers’.

———-

After almost a year of multiple interviews as part of an investigation by federal authorities into allegations that Governor Paul LePage and Maine Department of Labor officials pressured MDOL administrative hearing officers to be more pro-employer in its findings on appeals of unemployment claims, the results of the findings was released this morning and find that the Governor and others did indeed interfere.

The letter can be seen below.

Here may the crux of the matter, as outlined by the Justice Department:

    DEPRIVATION OF RIGHTS UNDER COLOR OF LAW

      Summary:

      Section 242 of Title 18 makes it a crime for a person acting under color of any law to willfully deprive a person of a right or privilege protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States.
      For the purpose of Section 242, acts under “color of law” include acts not only done by federal, state, or local officials within the their lawful authority, but also acts done beyond the bounds of that official’s lawful authority, if the acts are done while the official is purporting to or pretending to act in the performance of his/her official duties. Persons acting under color of law within the meaning of this statute include police officers, prisons guards and other law enforcement officials, as well as judges, care providers in public health facilities, and others who are acting as public officials. It is not necessary that the crime be motivated by animus toward the race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status or national origin of the victim.

      The offense is punishable by a range of imprisonment up to a life term, or the death penalty, depending upon the circumstances of the crime, and the resulting injury, if any.

      TITLE 18, U.S.C., SECTION 242

      Whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, willfully subjects any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States, … shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if bodily injury results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include the use, attempted use, or threatened use of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnaping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.

(This is a breaking news and will be updated as needed.)

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Reactions to LePage 2014 State of the State Address (VIDEO, TEXT, PHOTOS)

Posted on February 9, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

In the hours prior to Maine Governor Paul LePage delivering his annual State of the State address, press conferences were held by leadership of both parties at the State House. Senate President Justin Alfond recorded his own video address as part of a press release:

    “Tonight, Governor Paul LePage will deliver the State of the State to the Legislature and to the people of Maine.
    For those of you who listen tonight, you may agree with what the Governor has outlined. Or you may not. But one thing all of us, as Mainers, agree on is that we want to live in a state that prospers.

    • We want to know that our children will have a more secure and brighter future than our own.

    • We want to know that our parents, as they age in to their twilight years, can do so with dignity.
    • We want to know that if we work hard, we can pay our bills and put away money for our future.
    • We know what a growing, and prosperous economy looks like.

    It’s an economy where our small businesses are thriving and innovating, with access to capital, and a skilled workforce. It’s where our kids get an exceptional education from our public schools–from pre-K to college and beyond. And where they choose to stay in Maine because the opportunities that lie ahead of them exist right here-in Maine. It’s where families don’t live in fear that mounting medical bills will lead to bankruptcy or the loss of their home. And it’s where the Maine economy is leveraging our competitive advantages–like our cities and town centers, our working forests, farms and coast land to attract people and new businesses.

    Mainers have a long history of prospering. And we can do it again. But we’ve got some work to do.

    The number of families who are living in poverty and homeless is rising more than ever before. In fact, and sadly, one in four children in Maine is hungry–it’s the third highest rate of child hunger in the nation. That’s unacceptable. Our economy is still lagging behind the rest of our New England neighbors and job growth is nearly stagnant. While our New England neighbors have regained ALL of their jobs lost during the recession, Maine has only regained one-third.

    We can do better than that.

    As lawmakers you put us in charge to make the tough choices and come up with solutions to these challenges. And you’re right: it’s up to us. Inevitably there are those places where we may not find agreement–whether it’s providing health care to 70,000 Mainers, including 3,000 veterans through MaineCare expansion or keeping our funding promise to Maine’s towns and cities through revenue sharing. There’s plenty of room for disagreement but when political rhetoric trumps good policy, no one wins. We were sent to Augusta to serve the people of Maine.

    It’s been said before: no one party has the monopoly on good ideas. And, it’s true. The people of Maine don’t care if it’s a Democratic idea or a Republican idea, they want solutions. We must work together to find those areas of common ground. Areas where we can work together–with our Republican colleagues and with the Governor to move our state forward.”

Immediately after the Governor concluded his 40 minute delivery before the joint convention, all Democratic leaders met in Speaker of the House Mark Eves’ office with media to give their analysis of LePage’s speech. Here is a full recording of their reactions.

    “Maine needed to hear real solutions from Governor LePage. Instead, he offered the same old ideas that have already failed our state,” said Senate President Justin Alfond of Portland. “Maine needs a blueprint to grow our economy and instead Governor LePage offered pages from his divisive political playbook. Maine deserves better than bad policy and political rhetoric.”

    (L-R) House Majority Leader Seth Berry, Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson, Senate President Justin Alfond, Speaker of the House Mark Eves, Asst House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe, Asst Senate Majority Leader Anne Haskell.

    (L-R) House Majority Leader Seth Berry, Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson, Senate President Justin Alfond, Speaker of the House Mark Eves, Asst House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe, Asst Senate Majority Leader Anne Haskell.

    “We were hoping to hear a positive vision to move our state forward and create opportunity for all, but instead Governor LePage rolled out divisive and failed policies that will only hurt our economy and our people,” said Speaker of the House Mark Eves of North Berwick. “He continued to make the same old excuses to deny life-saving health care to tens of thousands of Mainers, including nearly 3,000 veterans. We know the consequences of not accepting federal health care dollars are deadly. Plus, we are losing out on more than $700,000 per day to create jobs and stimulate our economy – that’s more than $24 million in the last month alone.”

    “Right to work isn’t what it sounds like. It’s shorthand for driving down wages so hardworking Mainers earn less–$1,500 less in fact. That’s the wrong way to treat Maine workers,” said Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash. “We need a leader who will focus on how to shrink the income inequality not divide it further. Maine deserves a leader who will hold up the ladder of opportunity, not yank it up behind him, leaving the working poor with little to no opportunities.”

    Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook): The Governor's "open for business" zones are more like the Twilight Zone.

    Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook): The Governor’s “open for business” zones are more like the Twilight Zone.

    “How many times does Maine have to say no to TABOR? This is nothing more than TABOR 3.0,“ said House Majority Leader Seth Berry of Bowdoinham. “Maine needs a fair tax code. Instead, Governor LePage wants to cut services and hike property taxes for the middle class yet again.”

    “While Governor LePage puts down struggling Mainers, Maine children are going to bed at night with empty tummies,” said Assistant House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe of Skowhegan. “It’s unacceptable that one in four of Maine children is hungry, and Governor LePage has failed to offer any solutions.”

    “Governor LePage doesn’t realize we can’t arrest our way out of Maine’s drug problem,” said Assistant Senate Majority Leader Anne Haskell of Portland. “Law enforcement cannot do this alone; we need to address addiction by treating it as the disease it is or Maine will continue to lose.”

AARP Maine was quick to note an almost complete lack of acknowledgment by the Governor of the state’s large elderly population and their concerns:

    “On behalf of our more than 230,000 members in Maine, AARP expects strong executive and legislative leadership across party lines,” said Lori Parham, AARP Maine State Director. “As the Governor stated, ‘it is time to put politics aside.’” AARP Maine was both surprised and concerned tonight that the discussion of fiscal security for families in Maine did not include any discussion of Mainers 50+. “Maine is the oldest state in the nation and these issues need to be addressed,” said Parham.

    AARP is disappointed with the Governor’s remarks regarding the expansion of affordable health care coverage in Maine.

    “AARP is working to ensure that older Americans who have lost their jobs and are struggling to find new ones can obtain needed health care,” said Parham. “People 50+ are, on average, out of work longer than their younger counterparts. AARP is deeply committed to ensuring that people between the ages of 50-64 without healthcare have options for coverage. This is a key component of retirement security for older Mainers.” Expanding Medicaid will give people without health care insurance access to preventive care that can save lives, ease overall health care costs and infuse millions into local economies.

    While AARP recognizes that Maine faces challenges in being the oldest state, there are opportunities which are important to acknowledge. Boomers come with income, energy, skills and a commitment to give back. More than 33 million people nationwide over the age of 45 volunteered their time and talents in 2012. The largest growing age group of entrepreneurs is aged 54-64; especially important in entrepreneurial Maine. Boomers feel a powerful sense of legacy to make their communities stronger for their kids, grandkids and future generations. “While we want to attract young people to Maine, we should not ignore what Boomers already offer Maine and our economy,” said Parham.

    “As the oldest state,” she said, “we must work to build a strong and diverse coalition of partners to change the nature of the conversation, to show how the greying of Maine provides economic opportunities for the state and its business and non-profit sectors.”

Maine AFL-CIO was also disappointed in the address, noting as did Senator Jackson that the “Open for Business Zone” proposal was simply an attack on unions:

    The Governor’s proposal to create “Open for Business” zones–in particular, the “right to work” provision– is part of a national agenda to undermine the middle class and lower wages and working conditions for all workers.

    “This is just a recycled and repackaged version of the same old divisive policies from the Governor. It would do nothing but hurt hard working, middle class families like mine,” said Scott Bolduc, a firefighter in Bangor. “This plan hurts public safety and our communities. What we need is a Governor that is focused on real issues like raising wages and tackling inequality,” he said.

    “You can put a new coat of paint on it, but both Democrats and Republicans have already rejected these proposals. That’s because we can all agree these proposals are a bad idea. They would limit collective bargaining rights, and hurt everyday people we count on like firefighters, teachers and nurses,” said Cokie Giles, a nurse at EMMC.

    Giles went on, “‘Right to Work’ limits collective bargaining rights and hurts everyday people we count on, like firefighters, teachers and nurses. By making it harder for workers to bargain for safe patient staffing ratios in hospitals, needed emergency equipment, and smaller class sizes, our communities suffer. The Governor wants to make it harder for nurses to be a strong voice for safe staffing and patient safety.”

    Bolduc concluded, “The Governor’s proposal is a recycled gimmick that is more sound bite than substance. It will do nothing to improve the lives of hard working Mainers.”

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UPDATED: Eliot Cutler Confuses “Independent” With “Passive Aggressive” In Attacks Against Non-Supporters

Posted on February 7, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

mike endorsementsUpdating and reposting, as with the news of Mike Michaud now receiving his 22nd large endorsement, the ever shrinking camp of “Empty Handed Eliot” Cutler is once again complaining about being left out:

    “No candidate in this race has a stronger record on the environment than Eliot Cutler, and this endorsement doesn’t change that,” wrote spokeswoman Crystal Canney. “Eliot worked with Ed Muskie to create two of the most important environmental laws in the history of this country — the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act. Maine’s waters and air are cleaner today because of his work.”

Seems the folks over at the Maine League of Conservation Voters disagree with Cutler-Canney.

From today’s MCV press release:

“Mike’s story is one of political courage and environmental leadership,” stated Caroline Pryor, board chairwoman of Maine Conservation Voters. “Mike said ‘enough is enough’ to the sludge being dumped into this great river by his own employer. He helped clean up the Penobscot, and in the Maine Legislature and in Congress he’s been a leader on dozens of environmental and economic policies. He’s a champion for clean air, land and water resources, for clean energy and keeping toxics out of the environment.”

“Mike Michaud has the vision, the leadership, and the skills we need to bring people together to build a clean energy future. That’s a future filled with good jobs and a healthier environment – a future we can feel good about handing over to our children and grandchildren,” said Bill Behrens, a Managing Partner at ReVision Energy in Liberty.

Ray Reitze, a Master Maine Guide from Caanan expressed strong support for Michaud’s efforts to clean up Maine’s waterways. Reitze stated, “Without clean water, nothing can survive in a healthy form. What we do to our rivers, lakes, and oceans we do to ourselves and our children. I’m confident Mike Michaud is an honest leader who will help us protect and restore our natural resources and the good health and good jobs they bring to our communities.”

Dan Amory, Board President of Maine Conservation Voters, introduced Michaud and said, “Not that long ago, Mike Michaud was a guy working at the mill in East Millinocket. He saw the pollution in the river caused by the mill and decided to do something about it. This was Mike’s first act of political courage but it was far from his last. Mike is a real leader, and his record demonstrates that he will be the most effective governor to protect Maine’s environment, the health of Maine people, and the jobs that depend on our natural resources.”

=====

(Originally posted 26 Nov 2013)

cutler sucksWeigh the evidence for yourself and decide if the image at right going around online is accurate or not.

First there is this “Questionnaires” page on his campaign website, in which Cutler attempts to make his case with Maine voters after failing to garner endorsements from three groups by sharing the actual submitted documents as Scribd documents: The Sierra Club (doc), MSEA/SEIU (doc) and Maine AFL/CIO (doc).

Side note: This comment by Cutler to MSEA-SEIU is especially priceless!

    “I am under no illusions that I will receive your endorsement, though I would welcome the opportunity to participate in any Maine MSEA-SEIU- sponsored debates or forums over the course of the next coming year.”

Side-side note: What does Eliot Cutler think the “M” in MSEA stands for, anyways- Minions? Mutton? Millionaires?

Nah- THAT endorsement he would expect to get!

Anyhoo…

Cutler prefaced the sharing of the document images with passively worded attacks against each. Apparently he never was taught “one collects more flies with honey than vinegar”:

angry eliot

“As a candidate for governor, I get questionnaires from all kinds of interest groups – from environmentalists to sportsmen to labor unions.

Often these questionnaires are tied to endorsements that carry with them money, mailings and manpower. But most of these groups are tied to one of the two political parties, and so the endorsement process — the candidate interviews and the decision-making — usually takes place behind closed doors. As a result, you never know who has promised what to whom.

I think that’s wrong. That’s why I am posting each of the questionnaires I complete here on my website. I won’t tell these groups anything different than what I’m telling you, the voters. After all, yourendorsement is the only one that really matters. I hope you will ask the other other candidates to share their questionnaire responses, too, and that you will encourage the groups that endorse candidates to host debates and forums with all the candidates, so that we can have an open and honest dialogue about the issues facing our state.”

Oh please. “Open and honest”- sounds eerily like a certain Governor’s “most transparent administration” issues (2011, 2012, 2013) … and it also appears that many, MANY of the questionnaires were either not completed by Cutler or simply not EACH being shared as promised.

Anyways, back to the list of endorsements for Mike Michaud- if nothing else, the laundry list can help Team Cutler go back through and find the all the rest of those pesky missing questionnaire document images!

A reminder: All three of the above groups that Cutler shared his questionnaire responses have now publicly come out in support of Mike Michaud for Governor:

mike worker endorse

  • Maine Sierra Club endorsement of Mike (Nov 25)

  • MSEA/SEIU and Maine AFL/CIO endorsements of Mike (Oct 28).
  • That same press release shares that United Steelworkers Union (USW) and United Auto Workers Union (UAW) also both endorsed Mike: a total of 35,000 Mainers represented in those 4 important Maine workers’ groups.

    Waiting for similar Cutler passive complaints in regards to USW, UAW and these additional organizations as well, in 3… 2… 1…

  • Maine Education Association (MEA) endorsement of Mike (Nov 25)
  • Members of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) Local S-7 at Bath Iron Works endorsement of Mike (Nov 21)
  • Teamsters Local 340 in South Portland endorsement of Mike (Nov 15)
  • Maine Association of Police and the Professional Fire Fighters of Maine endorsement of Mike (Nov 8)

    And then we have this one- an Independent (a REAL one, not the old “just like Maine!” tired old chestnut from 2010 or member of the Tea Party, but a real honest-to-gosh, old-fashioned Maine Independent like we USED to know) who-

    Wait for it-

    Issued an endorsement of Mike (Nov 6).

    And then had the sheer audacity, as a currently serving member of the 126th Maine Legislature, to have the same published as an op-ed in the Bangor Daily News!

    Some excerpts of Rep. Jeffrey Evangelos‘ share:

      evangelos“As the only independent in the Maine House of Representatives who does not caucus with either party, I am pleased to announce that I am supporting U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud for governor. I plan on campaigning for Michaud during the 2014 election season.

      Mike Michaud will make a terrific governor of our state. He has the two characteristics that are sorely lacking in the current administration in Augusta: humility and common sense. He’s a good listener, thoughtful and respectful. It will be such a breath of fresh air when Michaud is elected as our next governor.

      Why am I throwing my support to Michaud rather than fellow independent Eliot Cutler? Cutler’s successes have come on the wrong side of the economy at the expense of common people. His relationship as a director of a bankrupt mortgage company, Thornburg Mortgage, whose former top executives are facing allegations of fraud, and his employment and association with the Dallas-based international consultancy Akin Gump, where outsourcing jobs to China is part of the mission, disqualifies Cutler as a person who can lead Maine out of this serious recession Maine people are experiencing.

      Contrast this with Michaud, a paper mill worker who understands what it means to keep and develop good paying jobs in Maine.”

    Cutler 2010 campaign garbage, image courtesy of perrenial dumpster divers "As Maine Goes".

    Cutler 2010 campaign garbage, image courtesy of perennial dumpster divers “As Maine Goes”, who snagged it from Jeff Inglis.

    Well! As one can imagine, that last must have caused Cutler to practically fly to his desk, shove everything to the ground and fire off his own crushing rebuttal (“Eliot Cutler: Focus on real issues, not recycled 2010 garbage”), also published in the BDN.

    Some snips, as he unloads not so much on Michaud but on Evangelos, with a not-even-slightly-veiled “Knock it off, bub, or expect to hear from my lawyers!!” threat:

      “In his Nov. 19 OpEd, Michaud supporter Rep. Jeffrey Evangelos, I-Friendship, digs up some of the same garbage that was thrown at me by Democrats in the 2010 race.

      Evangelos refers to me as “a director of a bankrupt mortgage company, Thornburg Mortgage, whose former top executives are facing allegations of fraud” and claims that the mission of my former law firm, Akin Gump, includes “outsourcing jobs to China.” The first statement is misleading. The second is false. (A member of the Maine Legislature’s Ethics Committee, Evangelos ought to be more careful.)”

      While class-action lawsuits challenging the conduct and decisions of Thornburg Mortgage officers and directors were filed, the claims made against me and the other independent directors were all found to be without merit and were dismissed by federal courts. No other actions or appeals are pending against the outside directors, nor were they or the company itself ever found to have engaged in fraudulent practices.

      Evangelos also recycles the old lie that I exported jobs to China, another oft-repeated claim from 2010 that has no basis in fact and is something this newspaper called “one of the ugly leftovers of the 2010 election.” In an attempt to support this, he refers to an Akin Gump webpage that never mentions China but talks about helping clients with “outsourcing” in the broadest terms.

      I did open and manage for several years Akins Gump’s first office in China. That experience has since helped me open new markets for Maine products in China. But not once have I ever worked for or represented a company that moved operations or exported jobs to China.



      Finally, Evangelos rips one more out of the 2010 playbook — class warfare
      — claiming that my successes have come “at the expense of common people.” Any success I have achieved has come through a lot of hard work, the values that I learned from my parents and grandparents, and from growing up in Bangor.

    So There! HMPH! And with such, Eliot Cutler has GOTTEN THE FINAL WORD.

    Well, not so much.

    Because while BDN does have a strict 60 day policy in which contributors can only submit articles, the good representative from Friendship provided, both on the Cutler rebuttal and on his own Facebook page, a full list of cited sources for his claims against Eliot Cutler.

    The BDN comment by Evangelos (posted Nov 25; links recoded to correct linkage errors) in full reads:

      Eliot Cutler’s response to my endorsement of Congressman Michaud for Governor proves that Harry Truman was right, “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.” Clearly Cutler is too thin skinned for politics, resorting to a temper tantrum and personal attacks against my integrity, while deploying half truths and misleading information to defend himself.

      First, the issues I raised are not “recycled garbage” from 2010. Cutler’s statements regarding the class action lawsuits left out the most important details of all:

    • “A proposed $2 million settlement has been announced in a class action lawsuit involving shareholders who sued Thornburg Mortgage Inc. for fraud regarding its financial performance.”
    • Directors and executives agreed to a 2 million dollar settlement that paid defrauded investors for their losses due to the Company’s omissions and misrepresentations. Here’s a link.
    • “Investors in Thornburg Mortgage, once the second largest mortgage lender behind Countrywide, agreed on a settlement with former executives and directors of the company.

      A court hearing will be held in Albuquerque, N.M. on Aug. 27, 2012 to consider, among other things, whether the proposed settlement with the Santa Fe, N.M.-based jumbo lender be approved as fair and adequate.

      Thornburg Mortgage, which filed for bankruptcy in May 2009 and subsequently renamed TMST, could not be reached for comment.

      The settlement fund consists of $2 million in cash. If the settlement is approved, former common and preferred stock shareholders will receive about one penny per damaged share — shares bought when a stock price was artificially high
      due to material omissions or misrepresentations, according to the court filing.”

      “On December 3, 2012, the parties entered into a Stipulation of Settlement. On December 10, the Court issued an Order preliminarily approving the settlement. On February 25, 2013, the Court issued a Final Order and Judgment. On the same day, the Court also issued an Order awarding attorneys’ fees and expenses. Finally, the Court issued a Final Judgment closing this case.” (Source: “Thornburg Mortgage Inc. : Mortgage Pass-Through Certificates”)

    • Not only does Cutler fail to mention the existence of this settlement, he plays pretend with the facts like they are ancient history. The fact is Mr. Cutler, this is not news from 2010, the settlement was approved on February 25, 2013. And you raise the issue of ethics with me?
    • Second, Eliot Cutler was a member of the Board of Directors of Thornburg Mortgage when the company went bankrupt. Subsequent to the bankruptcy, The Securites and Exchange Commission filed accounting fraud charges on March 13, 2012.

      The following information can be found on the SEC’s website:

        “The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged the senior-most executives at formerly one of the nation’s largest mortgage companies with hiding the company’s deteriorating financial condition at the onset of the financial crisis. The plan backfired and the company lost 90 percent of its value in two weeks.

        The SEC alleges that Thornburg Mortgage Inc. chief executive officer Larry Goldstone, chief financial officer Clarence Simmons, and chief accounting officer Jane Starrett schemed to fraudulently overstate the company’s income by more than $400 million and falsely record a profit rather than an actual loss for the fourth quarter in its 2007 annual report.”

        “The truest test of corporate executives’ commitment to full and accurate shareholder disclosure comes not during times of soaring profits and double-digit growth, but when companies are under financial stress and shareholders have the greatest need for accurate information,” said Robert Khuzami, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “These Thornburg executives flunked that test by issuing a series of misleading statements andhalf-truths to conceal Thornburg’s rapidly deteriorating situation.”

      Again, Cutler’s claim that this is “garbage” from 2010 is simply untrue. The SEC filed the charges in 2012 and the investigation is ongoing. Furthermore, the most important duty of any Director, from a school board to a corporation is oversight of the organization and its executives.

      Given that the SEC has brought fraud charges against Thornburg’s three top executives, including the chief executive officer who reported directly to the Directors, it is clear that Thornburg’s Board of Directors failed in their mission. Or as Harry Truman said Mr. Cutler, “The buck stops here.”

    • Third, information regarding the mission of Akin Gump regarding outsourcing comes directly from their website.

      Make no mistake, outsourcing American jobs to low cost alternatives in Asia has served to depress wages in the United States, raise the unemployment rate, with the knock on effect of depressing income tax revenues at the State and Federal levels. I stand by my statement that this activity puts Mr. Cutler on the wrong side of economy at the expense of working people.

      And as for Cutler’s assertion that I raised the class warfare flag, he ought to examine his own words in rejecting even a modest increase in the minimum wage. The minimum wage in Maine has been $7.50 for 5 years while the cost of food, energy, health care, insurance and life’s necessities have at the same time risen dramatically. In truth, Mr. Cutler is the person engaging in class warfare, supporting a non-liveable wage for Maine people while he sits at his residence in Cape Elizabeth.

    • Fourth, I will stack my ethics up against Mr. Cutler’s any day of the week. I split my votes in Augusta based on my conscience and always do what I believe is right. I caucus with neither party. I have the respect of both parties in Augusta because of this. A good example of this is when I rose to defend Governor LePage and his right to receive his pension when a Democratic Legislator attempted to introduce legislation that would strip the Governor of his pension. I may not agree with Paul LePage, but I defended his right to be treated like all other Governor’s in our history. That’s what real ethics are all about, Mr. Cutler.

      Finally, while I endorsed Mike Michaud, I have absolutely no connection to the Michaud for Governor campaign. Your attack against Congressman Michaud is unjustified and a clear sign of desperation. Your attack against my ethics is equally desperate, but I guess when you can’t dispute the facts, attacking the messenger will have to suffice. As the boxer Joe Louis once said, you can run but you can’t hide.

      Representative Jeffrey Evangelos
      Friendship, Maine

    So, does the image fit?

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  • Sen. Troy Jackson (D-Allagash) Maine Labor Lobby Day 2013 Address (Video; Text)

    Posted on March 14, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

    Senate Assistant Majority Leader Troy Jackson (D-Allagash) gave a tremendous barn burner of a speech this afternoon in the Hall of Flags to those assembled for the 2013 Maine Labor Lobby Day, sponsored by Maine AFL-CIO.

    Those in attendance spent the morning lobbying their legislators on bills of importance to Maine workers, including the minimum wage, Buy America, workers’ compensation, and the state budget. Each participant wore a badge that included the total amount of money their town would lose in revenue sharing under the Governor’s proposed budget.

    Below is Senator Jackson’s address as prepared.

    intro

      Good morning, brothers and sisters, and thank you for being here today. If you are here today, it is because you’re part of a growing number of folks who are recognizing thinks need to change if our economy is ever going to return to some sense of normalcy. If you are here today, it is because you believe in yourself, your friends, and your neighbors to be part of the restrengthening of Maine’s middle class. If you are here today, it’s because you reject the notion that the United States has to change its place in the world in order to meet the changes of the world.

      I am with you. But I am also here because as a young man who grew up in a place where people work unimaginably hard their entire lives, I learned just how badly people like us need to make sure our voices are heard in these halls. When a group of my fellow Allagash loggers and I came here in the 1990s, we saw how unfair the system can be to folks who are just trying to do the best they can for their families.

      The fact of the matter is simple; people who work for a living deserve action and respect from those who exist beneath this dome and behind these stairs. Today is the day working people and their families stop being a talking point and start being a focal point!

      Later I will be presenting a bill that if passed would direct the State of Maine to buy American resources at every realistic opportunity. With American manufacturing still fighting to come back, one of the greatest things we can do to help is to make sure when government money is spent, it goes back to that sector and our economy. That means it will be going toward keeping good jobs with good benefits that people can be proud of. Some would rather not acknowledge it, or would like to think that the best part of our past can’t be one of the good parts of our future, but having an industrialized nation with a high quality of life means having a strong middle clas.

      We must stop downplaying that making things is what the United States has always done best. Of course, it’s one of many things that we like to think that Mainers do best. The least we can do is make sure that our state supports this tradition, whether it’s by buying steel from Pennsylvania or boots from right down the road in Auburn. Let’s be in the business of purchasing paper from mills right here in Maine, not in eastern Canada. Let’s institutionalize common sense and fairness. We were sent here to Augusta by Maine’s people, not multinational corporations with factories in China and Korea, and I can tell you that every legislator with us today is determined to prove our commitment to coming good on that.

      There’s another bill being heard today that would raise Maine’s minimum wage to $8.50 an hour and allow it to adjust to inflation on an annual basis. Brothers and sisters, we need to do this. We need to do this for every single parent who just can’t put enough hours in to cover the bills that keep piling up. We need to do this for every student who graduated last year but has been unable to find a job that makes paying back student loans feasible. We need to do this for every large family that’s crammed into an apartment that’s too small for now because they can’t afford a place that fits. Hard work is more than the great virtues of sweat and dignity. If the value of milk and bread have changed, shouldn’t the value of a person’s time? We hear a lot about how Mainers ought to get off the couch, but the reality is that most Mainers are the best of workers, and maybe they can’t afford a couch- even the ones from Marden’s.

      troy at labor lobby daySo to everyone on minimum wage, we say to you: Don’t let anyone tell you you’ve done wrong because $7.50/ hour wasn’t enough. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s your fault that $7.50 couldn’t buy even 2 gallons of gasoline when you burn four going to work every day. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re a bum because even after putting in every hour you could, you don’t know how you’ll afford the mortgage on the home that has been in your family for generations. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re a bottom feeder because after you couldn’t find a second job, you stopped at the food pantry, the five or six mouths at home the only thing on your mind. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re lazy when you put your children to bed at night and you feel guilty that that college fund you started hasn’t had a deposit in it for more than two years, because after you got sick without health insurance $7.50 wasn’t enough. $7.50 isn’t enough!

      American workers are the best workers in the world and Mainers are a shining example among them! There is nothing we can’t do from right here in Maine, if we allow Maine to get to work the way it wants to! I see a future where the industries of our past are revived to compliment the markets and jobs of the future! Maine is an extraordinary state defined by an exceptional people and we’re not going to let anyone tell us different anymore! Thank you!

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    Mainers Reach Out to Senators Collins and Snowe on Tax Fairness, Fiscal Cliff, Proposed Cuts to Safety Net Programs

    Posted on December 3, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

    obama snoweWhile President Obama and Congressional leaders negotiate possible solutions to averting the fiscal cliff scernario, Maine citizens are taking matters into their own hands by contacting Senator Susan Collins, out-bound Senator Olympia Snowe and Senator-elect Angus King. Neither Snowe nor Collins has yet signaled a willingness to end Bush tax cuts for individuals making over $250,000 a year, a step that would raise over a trillion a year. Those cuts are due to expire at the end of this year.

    According to a new report released by the AFL-CIO, 299,875 Mainers could be negatively impacted if Congress attempts cuts to Social Security, including 55,525 people with disabilities and 24,150 children. Of the 358,004 Mainers who get their health care coverage from Medicaid, 130,862 children and 60,768 seniors could be affected if the lame duck Congress makes cuts to Medicaid benefits. If the Bush tax cuts are renewed, the richest 2% in Maine would receive an average of $27,230 in tax cuts, while workers would receive an average of $1,200. The 2012 House Republican budget plan would cut federal support to Maine’s Medicaid program by at least $6.2 billion over 10 years, further throwing the numbers reported last week to the state’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee into chaos.

    (Sidenote: As of today, it is being reported that the budget may not have a $100 million shortfall, but rather be twice as large a deficit.)

    Last week volunteers with the Maine People’s Alliance, as part of the organization’s “Fair Share” initiative efforts, visited the senators’ Augusta offices to urge them to support President Obama’s plan to end the Bush-era tax breaks for individuals who make over $250,000 a year. Staffers were presented with copies of more than 50 letters and editorials recently published in Maine newspapers. The letters “serve as a reminder that a strong majority of Mainers support ending tax breaks that disproportionately benefit the wealthy as a way to avert the budget showdown in Washington”, per MPA.

    sukeRachel Sukeforth of Litchfield, one of those making the deliveries, saw this consensus first hand as she campaigned for the State House of Representatives over the past year. Last week, a recount showed she had come up only four votes short against a Republican incumbent in a conservative district (HD 80).

    “I want Senators Snowe and Collins to know that I just don’t see why, when so many working Mainers like myself and my family are struggling to make ends meet, that our tax rates are being held hostage to protect the incomes of a tiny sliver of very wealthy people,” said Sukeforth.

    IMG_0724A recent poll conducted by the Maine People’s Resource Center found that not only did Mainers support tax fairness, but 55.3% of voters believed that increasing taxes on the wealthy would help the economy. Only 29.2% percent thought it would hurt the economy.

    “We want to make sure that Senators Snowe and Collins realize that their constituents are watching the budget negotiations in Washington very closely and have been speaking out on this issue for months,” said MPA organizer Jonathan Hillier. “A strong majority of Americans and Mainers have made it very clear that they would rather see tax rates for the wealthy return to Clinton-era levels than see deep cuts to important programs like Medicare and Social Security.”

    The Maine People’s Alliance is also launching an online postcard campaign to continue the drumbeat of support for tax fairness.

    collins obamaResponding to her constituents’ strong desire to speak to her, Senator Collins has authorized her staff to hold statewide local constituent service hours in all of Maine’s 16 counties tomorrow, in addition to her regularly maintained six state offices (in Caribou, Bangor, Augusta, Lewiston, Portland, and Biddeford). A staff member will be available to provide assistance with federal issues and agencies, such as the Social Security Administration, the Department of Veterans Affairs, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the Internal Revenue Service. No appointment is necessary and all conversations are strictly confidential.

    “It can be incredibly frustrating for people to try and navigate the often muddy waters of federal regulations, and each year thousands of Mainers turn to the talented staff in my state offices for help,” said Senator Collins. “Constituent service is incredibly important to me, and I’m proud of my state office staff, which acts as an important liaison between federal agencies and the people of our state. They understand the cares and concerns of the local areas in which they work because that is also where they live, and they have the expertise to investigate and resolve problems.”

    The locations and hours:

      Androscoggin County
      Turner Town Office
      11 Turner Center Road, Turner
      10:00-11:30 AM

      Aroostook County
      Ashland Town Office
      17 Bridgham Street, Ashland
      9:30 – 10:30 AM

      Cumberland County (four locations)
      Falmouth Town Office
      271 Falmouth Road, Falmouth
      10:00-11:00 AM

      Cumberland Town Office
      290 Tuttle Road, Cumberland
      11:30 AM-12:30 PM

      South Portland City Hall
      25 Cottage Road, South Portland
      1:30 PM-3:00 PM

      Cape Elizabeth Town Hall
      320 Ocean House Road, Cape Elizabeth
      3:30 PM-4:30 PM

      Franklin County
      Wilton Town Office
      158 Weld Road, Wilton
      12:30-2:00pm

      Hancock County
      Lamoine Town Office
      686 Douglas Highway, Lamoine
      9:30-11:00 AM

      Kennebec County
      Winthrop Town Office
      17 Highland Avenue, Winthrop
      10:30-11:30 AM

      Knox County
      Camden Town Office
      29 Elm Street, Conference Room
      Camden
      1:00 – 3:00 PM

      Lincoln County
      Newcastle Town Office
      4 Pump Street, Newcastle
      3:30-4:30 PM

      Oxford County
      Norway Town Office
      19 Danforth Street, Norway
      3:00-4:30 PM

      Penobscot County
      Millinocket Town Office
      197 Penobscot Avenue, Millinocket
      10:00-11:30 AM

      Piscataquis County
      Greenville Town Office
      7 Minden Street, Greenville
      10:00-11:30 AM

      Sagadahoc County
      Topsham Town Office
      100 Main Street, 2nd Floor Conference Room
      Topsham
      1:30-2:30 PM

      Somerset County
      Norridgewock Town Office
      16 Perkins Street, Norridgewock
      8:30-9:30 AM

      Waldo County
      Belfast City Hall
      131 Church Street, Belfast
      1:30 – 3:00 PM

      Washington County

      Danforth Town Office
      18 Central Street, Danforth
      9:30 – 10:30 AM

      York County (2 Locations)
      Arundel Fire Department
      468 Limerick Road, Arundel
      12:00 PM – 1:30 PM

      Berwick Town Hall
      11 Square Street, Berwick
      12:00 PM – 1:30 PM

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    2011 “Blast From The Past”: Why Did Governor LePage Ignore “Labor Day” in Labor Day Weekend Radio Address?

    Posted on September 2, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

    (As Governor LePage inexplicably decided to take a 4 day weekend (Thanks, Unions!!) off for Labor Day and tasked his MDOL Commissioner Robert Winglass with the Maine.gov Labor Day Weekend radio address, it seemed appropriate to dig up this “blast from the past” post of our own. ~AP)

    (Originally posted on 4 Sep 2011)

      “Why Did Governor LePage Ignore “Labor Day” in Labor Day Weekend Radio Address?”
    That’s okay, Gov; we got your back on this one! 

    I know how you feel about “people spending too much time on the blogs” and all, but hey, no worries! And I’m quite sure that you failing to give even a lil smidge of a mention to “Labor Day” itself in your Labor Day Weekend weekly radio address was just a silly mistake, a mere oversight.

    Not a deliberate act and certainly with no malice on your part.

    The pro-union folks who gathered last February were all wrong about you!

    It’s not like over 1000 people from all over Maine have ever stood out in the freezing cold to get your attention.

    Oh, wait…

    From March: ME State Senator Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook) Addresses Pro-Union Crowd at Statehouse Rally

    That reminds me, sir: When are you going to meet with Senator Jackson and the Maine loggers and will it be soon?

    Put your face on a milk Carton!!Because I hate to mention it or anything (boy, is THIS awkward for a high profile public official!!), but it’s very hard to know where you’re gonna be and with whom, as your daily and weekly schedules never, ever, ever have  been released to media.

    Not once.

    The first time this has been the case for a sitting Maine governor in thirty years, by the way.

    Do we need to start looking for you in the dairy case??

    And it’s not like hundreds of Maine workers with bullhorns have ever come to the Statehouse for a rally, then marched in front of your home or anything.

    Shoot, I forgot- that DID happen!

    From June: Maine Workers Rally Marching By Blaine House

    Rally held 25 June 2011 at the Statehouse in Augusta by Maine state workers and supporters. Afterwards, those assembled marched from the Capitol, past the Governor’s Mansion (the Blaine House), through Augusta with a final destination of the Governor Hill Mansion on State Street.

    Well, jeez, THAT is awkward, huh? But, isolated incidences- I am SURE. It’s not like you are “anti-labor” or anything like that!!

    What? No, it wasn’t? Oh dear…

    Ah yes, I completely forgot about “Mural-gate”… now at Day 157! 


    Day 78 (March 23): Maine AFL-CIO ACTION ALERT: Tell LePage, “Honor Maine’s Working Class History”Day 79 (March 24): Press Release: Maine Artists and Labor Historians Protest Mural Removal

    Day 80 (March 25): Maine Women’s Lobby Asks: What Would Frances Perkins Say?

    Day 80 (March 25): Playing Musical Chairs With the Maine Dept of Labor Mural?

    Day 81 (March 26): Gov. LePage’s Weekly Radio Address: ‘Today, There is a New Mentality in Augusta’

    Day 83 (March 28): BREAKING: Governor LePage Releases Statement About Mural Removal

    It was reported on Day 84 (March 29) that despite being on the job for less than 3 months, Governor Paul LePage was taking a full week off for a vacation in Jamaica with wife Ann.

    But even the Governor’s absence did not stop “Mural-Gate”, which evolved into a lawsuit and a temporary restraining order being filed against LePage.

    And “Mural-Gate” rolled on:

     

    Day 87 (April 1): Rep. Cynthia Dill Asks: Citizen’s Recall- What Now?Day 87 (April 1): BREAKING: Lawsuit Filed Against Gov LePage, Others Regarding Missing MDOL Mural

    Day 88 (April 2): Governor LePage’s Weekly Address (2 Apr 2011)

    Day 89 (April 3): Did Dirigo Blue Scoop Maine Media with GOP Senate Letter Post?

    Day 90 (April 4): The 8 Senators’ Letter is Published- All Tone Issues, No Problems With LePage Agenda

    Day 91 (April 5): Maine GOP/ Tea Party Antics: Attacking Art and Ripping Each Other Apart

    Day 91 (April 5): Statement of ME Union of Visual Artists President Robert Shetterly

    Day 91 (April 5): The Maine Labor Mural Projection Bombing On The Capital

    Day 93 (April 7):Statement of MDOL Mural Artist Judy Taylor

    Day 93 (April 7): Video: Portland Attorney Jonathan Beal Discusses MDOL Mural Lawsuit

    Day 93 (April 7): Press Release: Congresswoman Pingree statement on Department of Labor mural

    Day 93 (April 7): New MDOL Mural Video: “Paul LePage’s Dream”

    Day 94 (April 8): REQUEST for Temporary Restraining Order Filed Against Maine Governor Paul LePage

    Day 94 (April 8): “Maine Labor Mural Projection Bombing: PORTLAND

    Day 97 (April 11): Video: “Welcome Back, Governor LePage!

    Day 98 (April 12): HuffPo Scores Exclusive Interview with ME Labor Mural Projection Bombers

    Oh my. Maybe your father-in-law was right:

     

    Back in November, long before he decided to hide from the media behind his own weekly television show, Gov. Paul LePage sat down along with his wife, Ann, to chat with WCSH-TV’s Bill Green.
    They talked about, among other things, how they met while they worked at what was then Scott Paper Co. in Winslow — Ann had a union job, Paul was a member of management.“Scott was battling its unions,” recalled Green in his set-up. “She was a union rep from a union family when she took the manager home to meet her father.”

    Cut to Ann LePage:

    “And my dad looked at me and said, ‘Ann, you’ve got to be kidding me! What are you doing with him? Those white collars don’t know how to work!‘ “

    Hmm. Then there’s this- hey, maybe you are anti-labor after all, Governor!

     

    In an interview at the National Governors Association, the Republican praised Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and couched his own proposal in the language of liberty loved by tea partiers.“He’s got a big challenge, and quite frankly, once they start reading our budget they’re going to leave Wisconsin and come to Maine becausewe’re going after right to work,” LePage told POLITICO.

    LePage was unsure about the feasibility of passing right-to-work legislation.

    “You know, it’s going to be a battle,” he said. “The people that elected me want jobs. They don’t care if they’re union jobs or non-union jobs. They just want a paycheck.”

    “I think [Walker is] going to have a lot less hair next month than he has this month, but I admire him for recognizing the problem and at least attempting to get it under control,” LePage said. “We’re all looking at each other and discussing the options, and he’s taken an option that he believes is necessary for his state. And I certainly support him.”

    “I believe if an individual wants to join organized labor and work under a union contract, they should have the legal right to do so,” he said. “At the same token, a person who does not want to work under organized labor and wants to work should have the ability to do so without the threat of having to join and having to pay dues to organized labor. It’s that simple. It’s all about freedom and liberty.”

    Oh that does it; I give up.

    Have a nice day off tomorrow, Paul. And whatever you do, don’t ever thank a union member for the days off you get.

     

    36 Reasons to Thank a Union

    1. Weekends

    2. All Breaks at Work, including your Lunch Breaks

    3. Paid Vacation

    4. FMLA

    5. Sick Leave

    6. Social Security

    7. Minimum Wage

    8. Civil Rights Act/Title VII (Prohibits Employer Discrimination)

    9. 8-Hour Work Day

    10. Overtime Pay

    11. Child Labor Laws

    12. Occupational Safety & Health Act (OSHA)

    13. 40 Hour Work Week

    14. Worker’s Compensation (Worker’s Comp)

    15. Unemployment Insurance

    16. Pensions

    17. Workplace Safety Standards and Regulations

    18. Employer Health Care Insurance

    19. Collective Bargaining Rights for Employees

    20. Wrongful Termination Laws

    21. Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967

    22. Whistleblower Protection Laws

    23. Employee Polygraph Protect Act (Prohibits Employer from using a lie detector test on an employee)

    24. Veteran’s Employment and Training Services (VETS)

    25. Compensation increases and Evaluations (Raises)

    26. Sexual Harassment Laws

    27. Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)

    28. Holiday Pay

    29. Employer Dental, Life, and Vision Insurance

    30. Privacy Rights

    31. Pregnancy and Parental Leave

    32. Military Leave

    33. The Right to Strike

    34. Public Education for Children

    35. Equal Pay Acts of 1963 & 2011 (Requires employers pay men and women equally for the same amount of work)

    36. Laws Ending Sweatshops in the United States

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