(Blast from the Past) LD309: Dan Billings v. Jeff Young

Posted on April 4, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

(From June 4, 2011)

At the public hearing on LD309 on Thursday, presentations were given to the Labor CRED Comittee by Dan Billings, Chief Counsel to Gov. Paul LePage (in support of the bill), and Jeff Young, a labor lawyer with McTeague Higbee (in opposition). Young provides legal counsel to the Maine State Employees Association (MSEA).

Below find the first part of each of their opening remarks, with the remainder and questions that followed below the fold. I apologize in that my recording of Mr. Young’s Q&A time somehow did not make it from my camera to my computer, and so is lost.








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Blast from the Past: LIVE BLOGGING public hearing on LD309 “right to work” bill (June 2011)

Posted on April 4, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

(From June 2, 2011)

“A public hearing will be held today on LD309, the so-called “right to work” bill. The hearing will be held by the Labor CRED Committee, and begins at 2:30 p.m.

You can live stream the hearing here.

Use the comments section of this diary to let us know what you think about what you have heard.”

A few of Gerald’s early observations:

1. “Labor CRED still on. Winglass nomination with three more to follow. LD309 hearing not likely likely to begin until 3:30.”

2. “One more nomination to go, and then on to LD309. Looks like 4:00 start.”

3. “It is becoming apparent that Republicans are dragging these nominations out for as long as possible.”

Chris Quint from MSEA-SEIU shared a press release, which read:

In a press release dated today, June 2 2011, Senate Republicans state that ‘Right-to-Work’ is dead. This is a blatantly deceptive statement that comes the same day that nearly 1,000 working Mainers, community, business and religious leaders gathered at the state house to oppose LD 309, a so-called ‘right to work’ bill.

LD 309, which is being presented in a public hearing today, would undermine Maine workers’ ability to negotiate with their employers over wages and working conditions. This reckless proposal to end public sector collective bargaining addresses no identified problem in our state. Public sector bargaining in Maine is a proven and nationally regarded system that has provided stability in the public service, and dignity and protection for public workers.

The statement released refers to LD 788, a separate bill directed towards private sector workers that lost traction due to outrage from the community and lack of support in the statehouse. Referring to LD 788 as “the right to work bill” is deceptive and wrong. This is yet another political tactic meant to confuse constituents and distract from the issue at hand.

Although the factual content in the release is incorrect, we are pleased to read the statement from Senate Majority Leader Johnathan Courtney (R-Sanford) , “The vote to postpone LD 788 is a simple matter of setting priorities,” he says, “Our first priorities this year include regulatory reform, health insurance reform, energy cost reform, and passage of a biennial State Budget that puts Maine on the road to fiscal responsibility.”

We agree with Senator Courtney in that the legislature should prioritize, but this begs the question of why? If LD 788 is not a priority because it does nothing to further the legislatures agenda of regulation, health care, energy and the budget – why is LD 309? With the Governor currently in contract negotiations it is obvious this attack on public workers is a direct attempt by the Governor to circumvent the negotiation process with self serving legislation.

Not only is the message in the release incorrect and deceptive, it is a slap in the face to the nearly 1,000 workers here at the state house and the thousands more that LD 309 would effect. Our elected officials should prioritize, and put people before politics.

Some observations by Quint, once the public hearing finally began:

1. “Sen. Rector opens by saying LD 309 not RTW. Repeating R talking point from news release that Right to Work is dead for this session. We wish. All teachers, nurses, and fire fighters impacted by LD 309 wish that were so.”

2. “Gov LePage’s Rep Kicks Off Hearings With More Misinformation. Misinformation Soundbite #1: He claims some state employees are “paying a tax to a private organization” and he is protecting their rights. FALSE. State employees are only paying a service fee for covering a fair share of costs for negotiating and servicing a contract agreement that sets the wages, benefits and work conditions for all state workers, even those who freely chose not to join a union.”

GW noted some discourse in the hearing: “Cushing challenges Driscoll- If he has a question – shouting at him. Where are the chairs? Is Cushing running this hearing?”

CQ followed up: “Reps Gilbert and Driscoll Question Delays on Debate Over Contentious Bills. Two committee members ask:
Why did the legislature delayed discussion of workers’ rights bill (now LD 309) for months and are only taking it up in the legislature’s last days? Why did committee members delayed discussion for hours this afternoon? Four hours ago a crowd of 1,000 concerned Maine citizens — fire fighters, nurses, teachers, clergy, small business owners — were here at Capitol to speak out against this bill.”

“Bill Co-Sponsor Offers More Misinformation. Where to begin? She claims she respects the Maine State Education Association but supports stopping the union’s ability to have the state deduct dues from its members’ paychecks. This is a tradition that has been upheld by Republican and Democratic administrations alike over the years until this one, as longtime MSEA member Bob Ruelhlin will point out in his testimony … which could come hours from now at this rate.

She also is echoing a claim that services fees were imposed “in the middle of the night,” and when a previous person made that wild claim Rep. Gilbert admonished him by saying, “stick to the facts.” The fact is these fair share fees are fair enough that they’ve been upheld in debates that have gone all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

There is plenty more; please click on this link to read the rest.

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Videos from Maine AFL-CIO Statehouse Press Conference

Posted on January 6, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

Tim Boynton, former worker at Associated Grocers of Maine: “I ask the Legislature and the governor, please do not do anything to weaken the unemployment benefits. Focus on jobs, not hurting those without jobs.”

Wednesday was not only the start of the second half of the 125th Legislative session; it was also a day when the Maine AFL-CIO held a well attended press conference in the Statehouse to draw attention to their legislative priorities for 2012. More specifically:

1. LD 1571 “An Act to Amend the Laws Governing Workers’ Compensation”
2. LD 309 “An Act to Make Voluntary Membership in a Public Employee Labor Organization in the State”
3. LD 1725 “An Act to Strengthen the Unemployment Insurance Laws and Reduce Unempolyment Fraud”

Others of interest to Maine AFL-CIO (from their press release):

4. LD 1420 “Employment Standards and Independent Contractor Status”
5. LD 1207 “An Act to Amend the Labor Laws Relating to Certain Agricultural Employees”
6. LD 1095 “An Act to Facilitate the Construction and Operation of Private Prisons by Authorizing the Transport of Prisoners out of State”

Sue Cover’s Kennebec Journal article covered the GOP view of these bills:

(Rep. Andre) Cushing said Maine would have a better chance of landing large employers if they knew the rates would be competitive with rates in other states. Among other things, his bill would stop two practices: allowing retirees to keep collecting benefits, and allowing people who suffer non-work-related injuries while they are receiving benefits to keep getting payments.

“There are proposals in (L.D. 1571) to cap the amount of time people can receive benefits,” he said. “That’s not to say everyone’s benefits will end in a year or two.”

The most controversial of the labor bills is L.D. 309, which would end the practice of requiring state employees who aren’t in unions to pay a portion of union dues. The bill was held over from last year’s session, following a contentious public hearing.

The third bill identified by organized labor as a concern is sponsored by Sen. Chris Rector, R-Thomaston. L.D. 1725 would require people to broaden their search for work after six weeks of unemployment, rather than the current 12 weeks, add vacation pay to the items that offset benefits, and increase penalties for people who get back on unemployment after being disqualified for misconduct.

“The intention is to be sure legitimate claims are paid legitimately to legitimate filers,” said Rector, whose bill was written by the Department of Labor to tighten regulations on unemployment insurance benefits.

A rally was held after the presser, delivering approximately 1000 postcards to Governor LePage’s ffice from workers all across the state (Kennebec Journal photo above).

Here are links to the remainder of the videos taken:

1. Opening remarks by Matt Schlobohm, Maine AFL-CIO executive director

2. Address of Joe Pitcher of Jefferson, BIW worker

3. Address of Jamie Bassett, injured Maine state employee

4. Address of Charlie Urquhart

5. Concluding remarks of Matt Schlobohm, question by KJ reporter Sue Cover

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Repost- “MPVC Alert: Attack on Seniors” (A Tribute to John Carr)

Posted on July 26, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

It was with great sadness that we learned today of the passing of John Carr. In tribute, we are updating a previous post from April 2 of this year and adding his 2 part address  delivered during the first meeting of Maine People’s Veto Alliance held Saturday, February 12, at The Old Goat Pub in Richmond ME. ~ed.

Part 1:

 

Part 2:

 

Latest email blast from Maine People’s Voting Coalition:

 


SENIORS NEED OUR HELP
There are so many pieces of “trash can legislation” in this session of the Maine Legislature that it is hard to keep track of them.

The material below was prepared by John Carr. John is President of Maine Council of Senior Citizens – an organization that has fought for Maine seniors for more than 20 years. The organization is the first “organization member” of the MPVC and John is the first member of the MPVC Steering Committee.

This legislation, while it directly impacts seniors, is also of concern to the children of seniors and other senior family members and it is of general importance to all Maine people who are concerned about the ongoing Maine and national Republican/Tea Party attempt to lower taxes for the rich and for corporations and destroy the social safety net at both the federal and state levels.

We urge everyone who shares this viewpoint to share this material with others and to send e-mails or make telephone calls to legislators to oppose this Attack on Seniors.

MAINE SENIORS UNDER ATTACK

Maine seniors and people with incomes below 200% of the Federal Poverty level are being attacked by Governor LePage’s budget proposal and legislative proposals yet to be heard.

The Governor’s budget proposal includes:

·       $14.8 Million from the Fund for a Health Maine-Low-Cost Drugs for the Elderly program

·       $1Million from Low-Cost Drugs for the Elderly program to pay Medicare Part B premiums for dual eligible (low income eligible for both Medicare and MaineCare)

·       Elimination of the Maine Rx Plus Program. Estimated savings $212K. This program provides discounted prescription drugs to 42,000 Maine people and has been in effect since 2004 after a lengthy legal challenge including the US Supreme Court.

·       Elimination of the Prescription Drug Academic Detailing Program: proposed savings of $194K funded through recoveries of drug fraud cases. Provides objective information on drug therapy option, including clinical data and alternative treatments including generics.

LEGISLATIVE PROPOSALS

Legislative proposals that have been heard and/or waiting to be heard by the Health and Human Services committee (HHS) are;

·      LD 346 has been tabled by Senator Craven for lack of information. The new Affordable Care Act provides for a “pharmacy dispensing” fee to be based on the average manufacturer price (AMP) plus 175%. The AMP is a per pill price that would be unknown due in part because of:

·       LD 719 “An Act to make certain prescription drug disclosure laws consistent with Federal Law”. Repeals Maine’s gift and advertising & marketing reporting law. Repeals disclosure of the base price for drugs. Deletes funding for academic detailing program, this program improves quality and reduces costs. Repeals the requirement that data on clinical trial results be posted publicly and deletes the funding mechanism

·       LD 572 “An Act to amend the Laws Governing the Maine Health Data Organization

·       LD 612  “An Act to provide Reimbursement for Medication Therapy Management

·       LD 116 a bill to repeal the Pharmacy Benefit Manager Transparency law enacted in 2003. Bars conflict of interest, kickback and self dealing by drug industry middlemen and require the value of rebates to be passed through to ultimately benefit consumers.

Most of all, if not all, of this legislation is being promoted by the pharmaceutical industry.

Please contact your State Representative and State Senator as soon as possible to demand keeping the present laws concerning prescription drugs without change

John Carr, President                              Maine Council of Senior Citizens

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