Friday, August 18, 2017

SEIU Inks Anti-Union Deal with Maine's Right-Wing Governor

Maine Gov. Paul LePage
SEIU is getting sharply criticized for cutting a horrible, anti-union deal with Maine’s extreme right-wing governor that’ll severely undermine unions.

Here’s what’s happening.

SEIU’s Maine State Employees Association (SEIU Local 1989) represents 13,000 largely public-sector workers, including more than 9,000 state workers.

Since 2011, Maine Gov. Paul LePage has repeatedly tried -- and failed -- to pass “right-to-work-for-less” legislation in the state’s Republican-controlled legislature. These bills would have eliminated the requirement that state employees who choose not to join a union instead pay a fee to help cover the costs of the union’s collective bargaining and representation services that benefit them. These cost-sharing fees are called “agency fees.”

Gov. LePage -- who has made racist comments and said this week that taking down Confederate statues is equivalent to taking down 9/11 memorials -- called his failure to implement “right-to-work-for-less” laws in Maine as one of his greatest failures as a governor.

Well, Republican lawmakers may have rejected LePage’s anti-union efforts. But that didn’t stop SEIU from accepting the same deal during SEIU’s recent contract negotiations with LePage’s office.

On Monday, the Bangor Daily News (“LePage’s pay raise offer sways biggest state union to accept ‘right to work’ contract language”) reported that SEIU officials, during their contract negotiations with state officials, agreed to eliminate the requirement that workers pay cost-sharing “agency fees” if they choose not to join their union.

What did SEIU get in exchange for this massive concession?

 A 3% pay increase during each of the next two years. 

If SEIU officials had rejected the “right-to-work-for-less” provision, SEIU members would have received 1% pay increases during each of the next two years.

According to the Bangor Daily News, AFSCME -- which also represents some state employees -- rejected a similar deal from LePage’s administration. An AFSCME representative told the newspaper that: “Right to work is designed to cripple unions and take them out of the game.”

How will SEIU’s horrible deal affect workers? Here’s what one reader said in comments posted below the news article:

The union leaders just killed the union for 3% a year for two years. The union will now die of suicide.