News in 2011

January 2011
March 2011


January 2011

Update on USM Restructuring Plans

Good morning,
I’m writing to give you a quick update regarding the USM restructuring efforts which were mentioned in an email from John Wright yesterday evening.  I know many of you are anxious to know how these changes will impact your positions and the time frame for those changes to be implemented.  Of greatest concern to employees is the new requirement that there will only be one administrative assistant for every  12 FTE faculty.
Let me start off by saying I do not have any specifics regarding what ultimately will happen to the positions impacted by the restructuring.  I can tell you that most positions that support academic departments will experience some changes as a result of the restructuring.   ACSUM has been having discussions with USM administration and we will continue those discussions until an agreement is reached on how best to proceed with these changes.
ACSUM has three primary objectives that we want to achieve by the time this process concludes and the restructuring is actually implemented:

 Click here for more information.

March 2011

USM ACSUM Members “Wear Red for Public Ed”

On Tuesday, March 22,  ACSUM members at USM supported the NEA’s  “Wear Red for Public Ed” campaign by wearing red to USM’s Classified Staff Breakfast.  Two ACSUM members were recognized for being exceptional employees with Esther Lee receiving the “Distinguished Classified Staff Award” and Lynn Poor receiving the “Emerging Classified Staff Award”.   Way to go  Esther and Lynn!!!!  More information on the NEA’s Wear Red campaign can be found at

Public Employees Under Attack in Maine and the Nation


As most of you are aware, the last several weeks have seen challenges to labor unions in Wisconsin, Ohio, and yes – Maine!   The core issue being debated really comes down to the right of employees to join together and collectively bargain for wages, benefits and working conditions.  While those who oppose the right of unions, event the existence of unions, proclaim that their motivation is economical as they try to balance state budgets, the reality is their motivation is to reduce and even eliminate the rights of employees to collectively bargain.

In Wisconsin, the labor unions essentially agreed with the wage and benefit concessions that the Governor was requesting to balance the budget, however, that wasn’t enough for the Governor.  He continued to pursue legislation that would deny public employees the right to collectively bargain!  The same is true in Ohio.

Here in Maine, lawmakers have proposed several legislative actions that are intended to limit or reduce collective bargaining in the State.  Governor LePage has proposed a budget that essentially puts a 2% personal income tax on teachers and state employees as well as cutting benefits for retirees for a cost of $203 million.  While the Governor says these cuts are needed to balance the budget, he also proposes giving almost the same amount that he is charging public employees ($200 million) back to businesses in tax cuts.   The changes proposed by the Governor result in the average teacher salary in Maine, already ranked a very low 44th in the country, to an even lower 49th in the country!

Without question labor unions, and more importantly the employees who make up those labor unions, are currently under attack by the Governor.  There are several things that you can do to help in the efforts of the labor unions, including the MEA, to fight these attacks and defend hard working employees:

  • Attend the Maine AFL-CIO Labor Lobby Day in Augusta on March 22, 8:00 am.  You will be provided with guidance on how to lobby your state legislators before heading out in small groups to speak to your elected officials.  If you are interested in participating, contact your local chapter rep to see if other members at your campus are also planning to attend so that we can coordinate/car pool. You can find a listing of your chapter reps at
  • If you can’t attend the Labor Lobby Day,  be sure to “Wear Red for Public Ed” on March 22 in support of public education.
  • Visit the NEA website: and click on Maine on the map to learn what the NEA and MEA is doing to fight the attacks on labor and to get a better understanding of the issues.  You can also sign the petition in support of public education.
  • Contact your local legislators and ask them to support public education and public employees and stop the attacks on labor unions. You can find a link to your local legislators at
  • Be a delegate at ACSUM’s Delegate Assembly on Saturday, April 23rd in Brewer.  In addition to electing new officers for ACSUM, we will be having a workshop/panel discussion with AFUM and UMPSA to talk about all the issues facing labor unions and public education and ways that we can be proactive in protecting both!  For more information on being a delegate, contact your local chapter who can be found at

ACSUM will continue to monitor the situation along with the MEA and will keep you updated on any new developments that happen as well as any additional “call to action” requests.

In solidarity,


Jim Bradley
State President, ACSUM

May 2011

What are your Weingarten Rights?

If you’ve been a member of ACSUM for a while, you probably noticed that MEA changed the style of your membership card this year. This is a story about the old one.
Remember that quote on the back? Weingarten Rights or something. What was that about?
“Weingarten rights” guarantee to you the presence of union representation during investigatory interviews. They were established by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of NLRB v Weingarten, Inc. back in 1975.  They are very important rights, but your employer has no legal obligation to explain them to you or tell you when they apply.  To use them, you have to understand them yourself.

Weingarten rights apply during investigatory interviews, where you are asked to explain or defend your conduct, or where your answers to questions might provide the basis for discipline or even termination……

How Much Does Union Membership Cost?

Don’t think you can afford to pay dues and join ACSUM?

We often hear from non-members that the reason they haven’t joined ACSUM is they can’t afford the dues.   Well… we wanted to take a moment to point out that membership in ACSUM costs less than .79 cents per day!  That’s less than the cost of a cup of coffee!

The real question is can you afford not to join ACSUM?  Every important aspect of your job has to be negotiated with ACSUM:  wages,  health insurance premiums, vacation time, grievance process, sick leave, retirement plan, promotion process, layoff protections, and the list goes on and on.   Only members can vote on contracts and only members have a voice in determining wages and working conditions.    Who do you trust to look after your best interests?  The University or ACSUM?  ACSUM is a 100% member led union.  All the leaders, contract negotiators and grivance reps are your colleagues.

Please consider doing what the majority of your fellow coworkers have done and join ACSUM today!  In these very uncertain economic times, ACSUM is there fighting for you and your family.  Please do your part and become a member today!     Click here for a membership application.  If you have any questions, contact your local campus representative listed on this website

June 2011

ACSUM USM 2011 Spring Social & Potluck!

The USM chapter of ACSUM will be holding their annual spring social & potluck on Thursday, June 16th from 12:00 – 1:30 pm on the Portland Campus Green (in case of rain, go to Woodbury Campus Amphitheatre).    Come meet other ACSUM members and enjoy delicious food provided by you – our members!

ACSUM door prizes will be given out.

Bring yourself and a friend!
Bring a dish to share!
Bring a lawn chair or picnic blanket!
Bring a frisbee or your favorite lawn toys!

For more information or to RSVP, contact USM ACSUM Chair Gail Wartell at

Latest Issue of ACSUM ACCENT Now Online

The lastest issue of the ACSUM ACCENT,  ACSUM’s newsletter, is now available by going to the following link:

This issue contains:

President Bradley’s Goodbye Remarks
Updates on Negotiations and the New Classification System
Information on Challenges Facing Organized Labor in Maine
News from ACSUM’s Local Chapters
Update on what happened at ACSUM’s Delegate Assembly
Election Results for new State President of ACSUM

ACSUM Truly is – For The Greater Good!

July 2011


Work on negotiations has been steady and methodical. For the first two months we concentrated on the HECCP (comprehensive reclassification of all jobs in our bargaining unit). In May, while we were still working on HECCP, we surveyed all dues-paying ACSUM members to discover what you would like to see in a new contract. We read and analyzed your comments– all 35 pages of them.. Your preferences guided us as we compiled the list of changes we want to propose for our 2011-2013 agreement. We are now working on both the HECCP and regular contract negotiations at the same time.

Early in July we made the formal exchange of issues with which contract negotiations begin. Also in July, Dale Kuczinski of Lewiston-Auburn College took over from Jim Bradley as lead negotiator. Jim has been promoted to a professional position. Having left the bargaining unit, he can no longer serve on the team. Peggi Loveless (UMA) has joined as our seventh team member.

We have now begun to turn our list of issues into concrete proposals, each written in the strict legalese in which contracts must be phrased. We must also draft counter-proposals to proposals submitted by UMS. When we receive proposals, we must discuss– at first each team separately, then with one another– what we find acceptable and what we think should be changed. We will keep discussing and drafting until we find language that both sides agree on. Then we move on to other issues not yet resolved. When all the issues are resolved, we have a tentative agreement. If our dues-paying members ratify that agreement by formal ballot, we have a contract.

As you can see, this is a long process, involving a lot of hard work. It is the patience and support of our fellow union members that sustains us through this difficult process. We thank you for both.

ACSUM Negotiations Team: Lisa Feldman, Dina Goodwin-Short, Dale Kuczinski, Rosanna Libby, Peggi Loveless, John Pavliska, Tim Pinkham.

October 2011

Occupy Wall Street

The State Executive Board of ACSUM resolves to support Occupy Wall St. and Occupy Maine at the meeting 10/15/11.

We stand together to make our voices heard. We support a national economy that doesn’t just work for the top 1%. We stand together to call for a sustainable future that does not include massive tax breaks and bailouts for the wealthy while imposing austerity on the majority.

Let’s stop investing in Wall Street and start investing in Maine Street. We demand an end to obscene profits at the expense of working people; and end to failed economic policies that damage communities and sacrifice educational opportunities for young people.

Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Maine stand for new priorities. We stand with you.

November 2011

Explanation of why Membership Dues Increased

Members have asked why annual membership dues for those working full-time rose from $308 last year to $322.50 this year.  The increase includes a $10 emergency assessment from each member.  The assessment was approved by delegates to the Representative Assembly of ACSUM’s nationwide affiliate, the National Education Association.

Funds raised through this emergency assessment will be used to aid locals in states where the rights of union members are under attack.  Maine is one of those states.

The latest attack on Maine labor rights was a bill proposed for the next session of the Legislature by State Senator Ron Collins (R-York County).  It would have made payroll deductions for union dues illegal.  Thanks to hard work on the part of the Maine Education Association and other labor unions, legislative leadership decided not to bring the bill forward.  It is dead for now.

Other pieces of anti-union legislation still show signs of life.  One would limit collective bargaining rights of state workers; another would attack Worker’s Comp insurance; and, Governor LePage recently attacked Unemployment Insurance (or as he says, paying people not to work).

We hope that rank-and-file members agree with Dina Goodwin-Short, ACSUM’s elected delegate to the NEA Representative Assembly, that the $10 emergency assessment was a necessary expense.

In Response to Maine Heritage Policy Center Article

On October 12, the Maine Heritage Policy Center issued a report on compensation in the University of Maine System.  You can read it online at:

By emphasizing large numbers taken out of context, the MHPC report gives the impression that UMS employees were somehow misusing hard-earned tax and tuition dollars.

ACSUM President Tim Pinkham replied in the following letter to the editor, printed in the Bangor Daily News on October 29/30, 2011:

Scapegoated workers

The Oct. 12 BDN reports that University of Maine System employee pay and benefits increased 29 percent between 2002 and 2010. The same article highlighted salaries of over $100,000 and seemed to imply that university system workers were getting rich at the expense of taxpayers and tuition-payers.

For the 800-odd unionized clerical, office, laboratory and technical (COLT) employees who work at University campuses, University College centers and Cooperative Extension offices across the state, this is simply not true.

Between July 1, 2002 and June 30, 2011, COLT employees received negotiated cost of living raises averaging 1.6 percent per year and totaling 16.3 percent, which almost brought total wage increases up to the overall rate of inflation of 26 percent for this period.

COLT employees see to it that bills get paid and students get registered. We work in libraries, bookstores and offices of all kinds. We monitor scientific experiments that bring in millions of dollars in grant funding. We unravel red tape for students and faculty. We are essential to university system functioning.

We are highly skilled. We are not highly paid. Our median annual earnings are about $27,000. The university’s own studies show that many of us are paid at below-market rates.

What the article might have said more accurately is that over the past decade hundreds of hardworking, modestly paid men and women who work for the university system fell a little short in the effort to keep up with increases in the cost of living.

Timothy Pinkham

State president, ACSUM