June 19, 2019

Stand by MSEA

I work for the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. It’s my job as a supervisor to ensure that the rights of all residents in Washington and Hancock counties are respected as they relate to MaineCare, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, and Food Stamps.

As a state worker for 30 years, I was troubled to read Michael Smith’s op-ed “State workers deserve a union that will focus on them” (BDN, April 2).

I am a proud member of the Maine State Employees Association and the reason is simple: At a time when takeaways and benefit cuts are the norm all across the nation, we have won excellent retirement and health care benefits. Besides Maine, New Hampshire is the only other state in the entire country where state employees have fully paid retiree health care. Not surprisingly, most New Hampshire state employees also belong to a strong union.

I don’t see how it makes any sense to put these benefits at risk by leaving MSEA. We shouldn’t kid ourselves. Our benefits come under attack every year. Just last month, MSEA members testified to stop a bill that would have severely compromised the quality of our health benefits – and we won.

We can’t afford to entrust our future to an unproven organization like AGEM with few resources to represent us. Now is the time to stick together to win strong contracts that build on our accomplishments with MSEA and, most importantly, protect our hard-won gains. The last thing we need is to put our future in jeopardy by joining an untested group like AGEM with no record at all.

Lois Baxter


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