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MSEA Press Release Aug 20 2012

MSEA Press Release Aug 20 2012

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Published by Andi Parkinson

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Published by: Andi Parkinson on Aug 20, 2012
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PRESS RELEASEMaine State Employees Association, SEIU Local 1989For more information, contact:Chris Quint, Executive Director:Cell: 207-232-6470LePage Administration Grants Pay Raises to Some State Workers
 The LePage Administration on Friday announced that it was granting payincreases to some Caseworkers working for the Department of Health andHuman Services. In an email message sent Friday morning, Theresa Cahill-Lowe, the Director of the Office of Child and Family Services, explained that sheand Commissioner Mayheu had toured DHHS worksites, spoken to employees,and realized that the years of pay freezes were affecting morale and the ability torecruit and retain caseworkers. The pay increases will come in the form of stepincreases, to be granted to new and recent hires in the caseworker classification,bringing these employees up to step 3.The Maine State Employees Association, SEIU Local 1989, represents theseemployees, and has yet to be informed directly of these pay increases.Nonetheless, MSEA-SEIU President Ginette Rivard took a positive view of thisdevelopment:
This pay raise is an important first step by this administration in showing that itrecognizes the important work performed by state workers. We hope that thissignals a new beginning in labor relations with the LePage administration, and allState workers can begin to share in the state's improving financialsituation. State workers have sacrificed for many years now, facing declininginco
mes and benefit cuts. The Administration’s actions reaffirm the findings of the
independent pay study conducted by the State and this Union in 2009, whichfound similar problems in a wide range of classifications throughout Stategovernment. We take this wage increase for some state workers as a positivefirst step in restoring respect for all state workers.
 MSEA resumes bargaining with the State next week over a new contract, andlooks forward to discussing these new developments, including the need forfinancial relief for all state workersThe Administration's announcement is copied below, along with furtherclarification issued this morning:
Cahill-Low, Therese
Thursday, August 16, 2012 12:59 PM
Good news
 Good morning,As you know, Commissioner Mayhew and I have been going around tothe districts to hear what you have had to share regarding what isgoing well and what you would like to see changed. We both heardover and over again the concerns raised about the freeze on meritincreases and in particular, the impact that has had on caseworkerswho have been at Step 1 or Step 2 for the past several years.
important to note we heard this from all levels; caseworkers who haveworked for OCFS longer than 5 years, supervisors, PAs and staff at theCentral Office have all voiced their desire to have these salariesexamined and increased.
I’m happy to announce all caseworkers who were at a Step 1 or Step 2
will be bumped up to a Step 3. Caseworkers who are hired in thefuture will at least start at a Step 3. This will be effective retroactivelyto August 10, which was when the most recent caseworker beganworking for OCFS. You will likely see this increase in your paycheckswithin the next month. I will have more information on that withinthe next week and will pass it along as soon as I can. However, beassured as of August 10, you will be paid at the Step 3 rate.On behalf of the Commissioner and myself, I want to thank you foryour commitment to keeping children safe and finding permanency forthem. We recognize what you do is a most difficult job and truly doappreciate the role you play in this agency.Thank you,Therese
Therese Cahill LowDirector, Office of Child and Family ServicesDepartment of Health and Human Services11 State House StationAugusta, ME 04333-0011Telephone: (207) 624-7900Fax: (207) 287-6516 
Cahill-Low, Therese
Monday, August 20, 2012 6:30 AM
 As you likely all know, last week I made the announcementcaseworkers at Step 1 or Step 2 were going to be moved to a Step 3and that any person starting would start at a Step 3. This has causedquite a reaction statewide, so I wanted to send along some data tosupport this decision. Attached you will find information about wherewe are losing staff (68% of our current vacancies were created by staff who were at a Step 1 or Step 2 when they left), the distribution of 
steps among current caseworkers, and the comparison of Maine’s pay
to New Hampshire and Vermont.As we went to the districts, the Commissioner and I heard loud andclear what a burden is placed on remaining caseworkers when avacancy is created. When there are multiple vacancies in a district (wehave had several districts functioning at a 40% or higher vacancy rateover the past year), the burden is often unbearable and districts mustask for help from other districts. While we get approval to hire, ittakes a while for that process to happen and for a caseworker to betrained, in some cases it can take over 6 months. Just recently, wehad 2 districts who had no one on their registers (which is where wechose candidates to interview). We need to entice quality people toget on these registers.

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