State employees say LePage pressured them to deny jobless benefits

At a meeting last month, Gov. Paul LePage pressured hearing officers at the Department of Labor to decide unemployment-benefit cases in favor of business owners over workers, sources to the Sun Journal have said.

More coverage:

Bangor Daily News file photo

Gov. Paul LePage comments on the Legislature's delay in approving his plan to repay Maine hospitals millions of dollars in back debt March 6.

LePage summoned more than a dozen employees at the state agency to a luncheon on March 21 that lasted more than an hour and a half, sources said, to discuss the unemployment hearing process.

Their presence was required in an early March email and attendance was taken at the Blaine House. LePage arrived late from an earlier meeting and then left for his annual vacation in Jamaica.

Also attending the luncheon were political appointees, including the department's commissioner, Jeanne Paquette, and Jennifer Duddy, chairwoman of the Unemployment Insurance Commission.

At that gathering, LePage scolded about eight administrative hearing officers and their supervisors, complaining that too many cases on appeal from the Bureau of Unemployment were being decided in favor of employees. He said the officers were doing their jobs poorly, sources said.

If true, the meeting would constitute "an unprecedented type of political interference in the hearing process," an expert on labor law told the Sun Journal.

When he fired a worker during his time as a business manager, LePage told the group, it was always for good reason.

The Sun Journal learned about the luncheon meeting through a number of sources whose names are being withheld because they fear retribution by the administration. Nearly a dozen people who attended the meeting were contacted by the Sun Journal by phone, email or both.

The Governor's Office declined to comment on the story Wednesday.

....

Administrative hearing officers, whose salaries are federally funded, explained to the governor at the meeting that they're required to adhere to federal guidelines in deciding cases, sources said.

Hearing officers, most of whom are lawyers, must send recorded copies of their administrative appeals hearings to the U.S. Department of Labor quarterly for federal review.

LePage was asked by someone at the luncheon meeting about the 30-day federal deadline for holding an appeals hearing and what to do if an employer were to argue that more time was needed to prepare a case. LePage, who is not a lawyer, said that if allowing additional time for employers meant missing the federal deadline,“so be it.”

Some of the agency's workers said they felt abused, harassed and bullied by LePage's tone and rhetoric, which they found intimidating and made them afraid they could lose their jobs if they didn't skew the outcomes of their appeals cases in favor of employers, sources said.

….

Julie Rabinowitz, spokeswoman for the Department of Labor, said Wednesday she didn't attend the meeting, but she had spoken with people at the department who did.

She said Paquette and Duddy were unavailable to speak with the Sun Journal on Wednesday afternoon.

Rabinowitz said the meeting was presented as a discussion between the administrative hearing officers and the governor, although hearing officers described it as more of a lecture than a dialogue.

Rabinowitz said she couldn't confirm whether the governor pressured hearings officers to be more pro-business in their decisions. But, she said, people at the department called the tone “cordial” and no one reported feeling intimidated.

“To my understanding of the meeting, it was not a discussion that the hearing officers were doing a bad job because they were finding more for claimants than employers,” Rabinowitz said.

Paquette and LePage were concerned that “everyone is entitled to a fair hearing and due process," Rabinowitz said.

“We want people to have faith in the unemployment adjudication system and it shouldn't be finding in favor of one or the other," she said. "It should be finding on the basis of the facts and the evidence that are presented at the hearing.”

….

Lawyers who argue labor cases said they were shocked to hear that the governor would seek to influence the outcomes of hearings that are meant to be based on facts and free from bias.

"Over the 75-year history of the unemployment program, this would be an unprecedented type of political interference in the hearing process, to my knowledge," anywhere in the country, said Rick McHugh, senior staff attorney with the New York-based National Employment Law Project.

Curtis Webber, an Auburn lawyer who has been representing clients in cases on appeal before administrative hearing officers and the Unemployment Insurance Commission since the early 1960s, said he was troubled to hear that the governor might be seeking to influence the outcomes of claims appeals.

“This information, if true, is awful and it makes me feel extremely uncomfortable, although I'm not sure exactly what remedies a person would have in this kind of situation,” he said. “I really think that's very upsetting.”

A labor lawyer in Portland called the behavior "outrageous." (See related story.)

"It’s not called jury tampering, but it’s called something like that, using political clout to affect the judge," Howard Reben said.

….

LePage, who campaigned for governor on a pro-business platform, said at the luncheon that the actions of the hearing officers were destroying the business climate in Maine, according to sources.

Hearing officers had been told by their supervisors about a year and a half ago that they too often rule on appeals in favor of employees after a company owner apparently complained to the LePage administration following an appeals hearing that ended with a ruling in favor of the employee.

As a result, hearing officers were told to report to their supervisors all decisions they found favorable to employees before entering their formal rulings on those cases. That practice lasted only a few months.

Data requested by the Sun Journal from the U.S. Department of Labor shows that the number of cases successfully appealed by employees to administrative hearing officers declined slightly from 2011 to 2012. Over that same period, the number of cases successfully appealed by employers rose by a small percentage.

When a worker in Maine is fired, that worker can apply to the Maine Department of Labor's Bureau of Unemployment Compensation for benefits. Appeals of those fact-finding decisions are presented to a federally mandated level of administrative hearing officers, composed largely of lawyers, who are paid through federal funding and have to follow federal guidelines.

Appeals of those decisions go to the Unemployment Insurance Commission, the last stop within the agency. The three-member panel is composed of appointees of the governor. One serves as chair, one represents employees and one represents employers.

The next level of appeal is Maine Superior Court.

The more employees from a single company who qualify for unemployment benefits, the higher the rate that employer likely will pay to the state in unemployment insurance.

Maine ranked 24th in the country last year for the maximum unemployment insurance tax at 8.1 percent, according to the Tax Policy Center based in Washington.

cwilliams@sunjournal.com

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Steve  Dosh's picture

State employees say LePage pressured them to deny jobless benefi

all 13.04.11 19:30 hst ? Thursday
" Open foot in sert mouth [ sic. ] " Hon Gov. yet once again
You can quote me ^^
Who pays - y o u r - salary , benefits , retirement and health care, Mr. Executive ?
Who else can you P O ?
Do try to . As a bona fidé bully it's your sworn duty to do so
Your party does not support you . Your US Senator ? Naah . .she doesn't
Native Americans don't either . Officers of the law ? Probably not . You already tried to fire your state AG ( Attoney General ) and every other state union employee . Get a clue . Most police do not want guns in the hands of the mentally ill , felons or sold at gun shows to straw man purchasers with banaclips full of ' cop killer ' hollow point bullets . Most . They have a union , too . The Fraternal Order of Police . There is no Governor's Union
Perhaps Hugo" Mr. Macho Man " Chavez ( RIP ) does. .er. . did suport you ?
* Snap * Mark Elliott will ? - l o l - /s, Dr. Dosh HI
http://bangordailynews.com/2013/04/06/sports/baseball/umaine-baseball-do...

Makes you wonder...

"Hearing officers had been told by their supervisors about a year and a half ago that they too often rule on appeals in favor of employees after a company owner apparently complained to the LePage administration following an appeals hearing that ended with a ruling in favor of the employee."

And in today's excuse he says that's all he told them this time.

Just one employer, whom we do not know and do not know why they were decided against so often. Maybe because they were in the wrong every time? This could be like the petty thief who keeps getting caught complaining that the juries rule against him too often.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

LePage has had a history of run-ins with the labor community

Sources who spoke with the Sun Journal and attended the meeting said they felt "abused, harassed and bullied" by LePage. The sources said they felt they would lose their jobs if they didn't "skew the outcomes of their appeals cases in favor of employers" rather than decide cases on their merits.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/11/paul-lepage-unemployment-benefi...

Steve  Dosh's picture

Jer ? If this be the case ,

Jer ? If this be the case , ME state employees can file a ' hostile workplace " class action grievance and should
We suggest using http://www.kcnlaw.com DC u s a as starting point for discussion and diliberation
The first call is ƒree . Talk with Ms. Kalijarvi , Newman , or Mr . Chutzi , llc.
They are most likely not liscensed to practice in ME but know the best who are
/s , Dr. Steve Dosh , former US Federal Government Ombudsman

FRANK EARLEY's picture

I think He's bitten the big one..........

I think he's bitten the big one. What has happened is not just that he pressured the hearing officers, it's not just the threats, it's just the fact that the insinuation has been made public. Whatever he tries to do to minimize the impact, won't work. Being accused by the very people sworn to be fair and unbiased, if I were LePage, I would be preparing for the huge legal tidal wave, that's about to crash on his administration.
If it was an accusation from a disgruntled employee, it would have been dismissed, this will have Federal consequences. He is the FIRST Governor on record in the US, to openly attempt to thwart the unemployment system.
Just because this has come to light now doesn't mean it just started, who knows? How many hearings have resulted in denials in the past two years? I would encourage every single denied employee, to speak to a lawyer. I can't wait to see the explanation from his spokeswoman, what ever she has to say, won't lesson the feeling that there was at least on denial due to LePage. As long as there is one there could be thousands, there is no way of ever knowing for sure. If the State of Maine Unemployment Bureau, was a court case, it would end in a mistrial. You just can't do what LaPage has done, and not expect serious consequences. Let the squirming begin :D :D :D

Catherine Pressey's picture

Squirming, he does not know how!

But I agree with you Frank corruption how are we the public not to believe that he has had private conversations with any one or all of these people. How deep is his anti-worker attitude going to go, where is it going to take our state. I made a reply to another comment. A company I once worked for sent all the supervisors to a class at Edward Little High. At night the class was held the same time I was taking another class. A friend of mine worked someplace else and was attending this supervisor class. The jest of it was Rule by fear, rule your workers by fear, or loosing their jobs, blame anyone that had workers comp claims. And tell your workers that those awful employees with those injuries would cost them their jobs. That the company would move elsewhere. Scare them about how lucky they were to have jobs, and lucky they made the pay they did. And to understand that the company can go elsewhere. Scare them so they did not dare think they should be a raise or better benefits. LePage is ruling by fear. This man thinks he is KING, he just can not do this kind of sh---- and get away with it. Bad man, thug mentality each and everyone of these that attended can be brought forward to testify to how they received what he was saying. Much like a boss that misuses his power, or that same politicians that does the Clinton thing. LOL Power does have its down fall and he is walking on that thin ice. And fall he will bully LePage. My Opinion

please help raise awareness

I hope to raise awareness for people who are bullied at their workplace at the hands of union agents. It's good to see you're protecting people who are supposedly and allegedly being bullied at an informational meeting that addresses the loopholes and how to avoid the loopholes.

I hope that people who are out there reading the comments concerning bullying do seek the help that is needed. Long term bullying as we know can lead to depression and other stressors and as we've seen a lot of, teen suicide. Please look me up. Thanks for all who have sent me emails in an attempt to help those of us who had endured worksite bullying and the links you provided.

I'm glad to see Attorney Curtis Webber was quoted as he was helpful to me in being heard at the MLRB level when MSEA's attorney, Tim Belcher tried to have my case about bullying dismissed. Please don't take the bullying. Contact me and join my group so that we can launch awareness together to help people understand that bullying at the workplace is real and should not be tolerated. Would you please help

Catherine Pressey's picture

Anti-trust for sure

I am not surprised, at God LePages behavior, you have all heard the term he takes the cake, well he is a bully and in the bigger picture here, is anti-worker period. This man will stop at nothing to get his way. So maybe anytime someone goes to an informal meeting with the Governor they should tape, each and every word that comes out of his anti-worker mouth. Oh that is right he was wah wahing about the people following him around and doing just that. Question here is why was he calling this kind of meeting in the first place. And yes I bet many of them could loose their jobs if they do not play his game. And remember his own words he never fires anyone without good cause. To bad we can not fire his ass, he is a underhanded crook and I believe this is a crime to try to pressure these people. Of course he did just that. So what he is saying is that they are making the wrong call. And if more employees win, shame on them for telling the truth and shame on the men and women that have to decide who is telling the truth. Seems to me the truth is the truth and if the employers are making bad calls in firing certain workers. And the appeals board can see right through the lies employers make. And they sure do twist and distort the truth. Shame on our Governor once again. I figure from now on these appeals people should not sit down with the bully and crook. UNLESS they tape all informal meetings or any kind. So if he fires them they can prove their cases. He is a whinny mean spirited man that needs to go seek help for how his mind works. I am sure this all comes from his bad child life, GET HELP GOVERNOR GROW UP! These people are just doing their jobs. And I believe it is without bias. Unlike our Governor. My opinion that is all.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Governors selling their souls at the cost of others

It is due time for the legislatures to pass laws that prevent any governor to get in bed with any corporation in present or past whereas they are receiving any royalties or kick backs down the road. Oops!

There are some laws but not enough to curb these fat cats from running in office and becoming millionaires, at the cost of the working taxpayers who pays his salary and his staff, as to doing favors for the corporations and the lobbyist.

There is no doubt that LePage is selling off Maine for his personal gains, and to live high off the hog with state pensions and benefits and trying to open doors for his future and not caring or giving a damn about the good people of Maine.

Wish I could agree

I wish I could agree with this but depending on who is the majority in the house and senate is the factor in who gets the help needed.

Right now as we know, the Democrats are the majority that are placed on the various committees to hear our public testimony or outcry. I and other people testified at the public hearing that spoke out against MSEA for our various reasons. My particular reason was due to the union bullying I received at my worksite and at chapter meetings. Other people stated reasons of just wanting a choice to be represented by an agent of their own choice.

We sought to support a law that gave workers a choice to belong to MSEA or to make a choice to belong in another union or not be in a union at all. Even after our testimony, the Democrat legislators sided with the unions. Even after it was testified and shown in data that a huge amount of each of these Democrat legislators campaign funds came from MSEA and other unions. I don't know about you but to me and others, this means that the Democrat legislators don't care about their small time voters but are instead influenced by big union campaign funds.

Yes, the same applies when Republicans are the majority. So when will it be about the people? Why are we fighting across the aisle on any given issue rather than uniting our efforts to recognize that we are being short changed on any given problem we bring to our lawmakers when they base their decisions on who is funding them?

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

In Contrast

"Other people stated reasons of just wanting a choice to be represented by an agent of their own choice."

That is like telling your boss/owner that you do not accept your supervisor or manager and want to be able to choose who you desire because you are not happy, comfortable or feel you are being singled out or not getting it your way with whom they provide. Please, that is not how any business works, and then you either deal with it, leave or prove yourself to those that have the decision making to place you in that place if you qualify or have the ability to fill those shoes.

"My particular reason was due to the union bullying I received at my worksite and at chapter meetings".

At both places? Tells me that you really brought it on yourself in your own special way of stirring the mud and wanting to muddy the waters.

Union bullying? It was what, one person, maybe two that you didn't like or accept what they said and your attitude or visa versa, but you blame the ENTIRE Union! WOW, that is one helluva wide brush you use as dramatizing it is THE Union. WEAK! The Union is everyone, members, workers and those that are administrative workers for the organization, not one individual or two that may have the baton at the time of your issue, that you feel has too much control or do not agree with. Like I said I have been at meetings with folks like yourself that bring the focus on from moods or attitude, or not really understanding or wanting to understand how standard operating procedures are conducted and again without being there and hearing both side of the story, I still say that dog don't hunt.

You see Linda, I too have been in Administration for a long time and I was one of the top dogs for years, until shit happens, but then I too had to take and put up with some new appointed, not elected, leadership, bullies, whereas one was even my newly appointed boss of my department that I established and ran for years. This moron that had no idea, none, experience in my job description, but because of his and the new bosses power hungry and arrogance of a ass kissing nepotistic boss and his guppies that ruled for 4 years until I and others campaigned to voted delegates and with the right direction and unity, we removed every single one of them, whereas they are no longer in any position of any nature but workers in the field. Every business has it bad apples.

My point, The Union is and was there to help those that want and need it for their own personal reasons, that they paid those dues to run their business/ their Union as owners making an investment for their futures. The very ones that truly understand what the Union is really for and all about, nothing in life is ever perfect on both sides of the fence. But I do know this, that those that survive and live with the assistance of their Union pensions and wages, that they worked many hard years to achieve are happy with what they did to make it through life to provide for themselves and their families.

Those are the same folks that want those unions to survive to keep their many years of hard work invested into a business of ownership of an organization that has assisted in their livelihood and for many of others down the road to share and contribute in that comfort of well being to seeing a future of rewards and not having to depend on just SS or welfare or worst yet, nothing.

So when you start to PAINT the Union as the whole background as it is the problem, it is normally some bad apples in the bushel , and until you remove the rotten ones, they continue to rot and stink. Doesn't mean you throw out the baby, bathwater and the tub, because it doesn't make you happy or work for your demands at the time, because many others enjoy and appreciate the rewards. When people like yourself, sour grapes, paint the whole Union as the problem, it is folks like you that poison the well for others, those that survived and moved on and are living under the Union, Made in USA umbrella. This is the very reason the ignorant ones want to destroy Unions, because they are fed pieces of doom and gloom and do not know the entire history or the real truth, what works and has worked for millions for hundreds of years.

If you say that many in your family are living a Union life and living off the fruits of their labor into an investment of whatever Union they are members of, you should have some compassion for them in how you poison the waters that they still drink and for and about the future of those in their families who may find solace and comfort of being Union, Made in USA...with a Union Label instead of Made in China.....those jobs went to China for one reason, greed and for paying workers a dime on the dollar and not about cost of wages, because today we pay close to the same for products made there that could still be made here, but for slave labor conditions.

Protect what you have, because there are many on the republican side, now and today, that are trying to bring back, child labor, lower wages, no overtime as we know it, longer hours, less job protections, no prevailing wages so that global industries from companies from overseas coming here and not having to agree to work standards that the UNIONS fought hard and lost lives for, just like it was in 1930's...
BE Careful what you wish for....

I have to say that I'm

I have to say that I'm respecting your approach a little more than before. I don't totally agree however. My intent is not to paint all unions as being a problem. My beef is with MSEA and their refusal to assist with the bully issues that I endured. In fact, the responses I received to my cry for help was not responded kindly. I was told I was wasting their time and Tim Belcher motioned MLRB to dismiss my case so that it would never be heard. My problem is with MSEA and those in charge. I brought this out in the open to help others who are enduring similar and for them to know that they are not alone. A person should never be coerced, intimated or bullied into thinking that they deserve to be treated badly just because they confront transparency and accountability issues with their chapter leadership. When the issues are brought to the attention of MSEA and MSEA says they are governed by the MDOL but does not uphold the MDOL rules on elections then it becomes a problem. There are varied reasons that not only I testified on and I spoke on behalf of many. The bills that I testified in favor of would have given me and everyone else who wished for it, the opportunity to change their union with no question.

If my union father and uncle were still alive and had they known that male chapter members had placed nails in my tires and that I was treated as I was, they'd be on the next flight from Cleveland to Portland ASAP. If we had real union leaders they would not tolerate a dictator Chair who sighs when someone wants a discussion on his motions. Now his latest bylaw change will be to never let us see another voter count. I'll tell you Jerry, this union is nothing like the unions that got us the benefits we have today.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Agee to disagree

Now his latest bylaw change will be to never let us see another voter count. I'll tell you Jerry, this union is nothing like the unions that got us the benefits we have today.

My point exactly, our EST, Executive Secretary Treasurer, was in same caliber as the dictator chair you had. We had him not wanting to being transparent, defying the By-Laws and much more. Those of us that would not tolerate his kind, worked and did remove him. The moves your chair person was trying to achieve was violating the DOL laws on elections and I too should have called the DOL, such as I have on my own kind to get results.

I am a recognized rebel Unionist and have taken on bigger, badder mob boys than his kind or my ex boss, whereas I was advised to move away from New England in the early 90's until it was time to go back and testify and stayed here for 20 years in MN. In my case was a union contractor going bad and joining the ranks of the bosses of NY. I was flown back to CT, escorted in and out of the courtroom and to the airport, so you see I know what it means to really take on and battle those bullies and law breakers.

My ex-boss of nearly three years ago, knew of my history and my acquaintances and connections in CT and what I did. He knew personally of the stories since I was a Trustee to our Pension and Welfare funds for years, that he now sat on, where I spent hours on days with, him knowing I was not a person to toy with. Even in the final days when I literally slapped him with my retirement notice he knew I was going to take him on and take him on I did at my retirement at 55, looking forward to the next year on the day of his new election time.

I worked in concert with those that wanted a change and we organized, plus myself being so close to this turkey and being the IT Sys Admin, and with the retired office manager had several documents and friends in the DOL and the upper echelon to prove that this piece of shit was a bad person for us and for the members Union. He got his ass handed to him by the members and by the DOL and by the International Union once they got wind of what he was up to and he should be in prison as far as I and others are concerned, but we exposed him, removed him and destroyed his reputation and life.

Point being persons like your Chair and my ex boss are not above the law of the land or the laws of the Unions, just because they think they are untouchable. I truly understand that I had a closer understanding and hands on with my fight were others like yourself are fighting from the sideline looking in, but what goes around, comes around and it is always a matter of time before they pay the piper.

Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely...

TIMOTHY OLEHOWSKI's picture

Where's Gravel and St. Jean

Where's Gravel and St. Jean when you need them?

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Choking

On their pride and hiding in the weeds to feed on more leeches dung that LePage feeds them.

 's picture

Hiding, where else

LePage constantly exposes the evil corporate control of our state and nation is.
The call for small government is just a call for more LePages interfering in your lives at deeper and more personal levels. They want puppets not citizens. They want slaves not workers.

Can you say loser...

LePage is a bully..bottom line..and this is how he runs everything..this from a guy who has no sense of the law and was elected by people that obviously have the same mindset as his...time to get this idiot out of this state..worse Gov. this state has ever had, and the most hated, but I bet he thinks he's doing a good job...I can't believe anyone with half a brain would even stick up for this guy...if they had to deal with unemployment and they lost a case because of his bullying, I'm sure they would be singing a different tune..wake up people..this guy will ruin this state for our kids...

AL PELLETIER's picture

What he meant to say!

Can't wait to hear his spokesperson tell us all what he MEANT to say. She's been covering up for him for so long and on so many issues she probably had something already planned to do damage control.
Nov. 2014 can't get here soon enough.

Virginia  Penney's picture

Lepage unemployment

And this is probably only one of his many behind the scenes deals. Impeach. One more step in destroying the middle class. Lose your job, lose your health benefits, lose your home. It is a bit like musical chairs, keep cutting out one after the other, until only one is left standing. Corporate America. Problem is they eventually will destroy the base that supports them and eventually them selves.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

He treated employees at Mardens the same way

WTH.,

At that gathering, LePage scolded about eight administrative hearing officers and their supervisors, complaining that too many cases on appeal from the Bureau of Unemployment were being decided in favor of employees.

LePage, remember a guy who didn't have a pot to piss in, quickly forgets where he came from.

This is the problem with these repub yahoos' that think and act like they wipe their ass differently, and they don't care about just crapping on the people, the working class that PAYS his wages.

Time for this waste of skin to go...

He was a drunk and a bully growing up in Lewiston and still has those traits, on those that he can relate to....

FRANK EARLEY's picture

This is the big one...........

It was only a matter of time. By his own persona, it was obvious he would screw up sooner or later. His greed has finally done him in. "Corruption", there I said it. He's been skirting around this charge for awhile. He , if guilty, has single handedly destroyed the integrity of a system aimed at being fair and unbiased. The problem the good Governor, I'm sure didn't see coming, is every case,sense he's been in office must be reviewed. Those cases that went in favor of the employer, must be overturned for review. I'm sure the Fed's are going to be so pleased with Mr. LePage, they'll even let him pay for all those reviews. Not to mention all the past due benefits wrongfully withheld.
I along with a whole bunch of people have spent years fighting DHS. It went on for years. I wish I had a quarter for every "Administrative Hearing" I attended. I never had much faith in the system to begin with. It's basically the same as the unemployment hearings, they use hearing officers and its all put on by the State. I also had an unemployment hearing many years ago. They are the same.
You always have it in the back of your mind, you just can't bring yourself to trust a system who appoints their own judge. All we, or anyone else has is, the hope that the hearing officer is at least fair, will listen to both sides and make HIS decision. Now we hear the hearing officers themselves being honest enough to spill the bean's on our illustrious Governor.
There is now going to be some massive backpedaling. Damage control will be in overdrive. It won't do any good. As long as the seed of doubt is planted. It can't be undone. People are finally seeing the real Paul LePage. I thank the hearing officers for stepping up to the plate and being truthful. Now I'm going to sit back and watch the Governor squeeze his way out of this one......................

AL PELLETIER's picture

Case in point, Frank

Many years ago I was the service mgr. for a big box chain of auto parts and service centers. I had a district mgr. who kept telling me to get creative and to tell my technicians to create unnecessary repairs to get more money out of each customer. This went totally against my grain so one day, with a small pocket recorder, I recorded him telling me that squirting a little oil on shock absorbers is common practice throughout the industry to increase sales and service.
Knowing I had this as evidence I promptly quit. I applied for unemployment claiming I was being asked to be unethical and it went to a hearing. The hearing officer would not allow me to play my tape as evidence and I was denied.
I sent the tape to the company corporate headquarters and that district mgr. was promptly fired.
Now Lepage wants hearing officers to be more business friendly by denying claims? Best I can tell it's always been that way and now he wants to make it even more unfair! What a Governor!!

 's picture

Feds cometh

I thinks the feds should investigate this one.

CEO of the Corporate State of Maine

Paul LePage knows what he wants; a corporate state. Paul LePage, his staff, and his supporters clearly march to the following orders; establish optimal conditions for private firms to enter Maine so that they may profit without interference.

The marching orders follow a simple set of principles.

- Eliminate outside influence on compensation and benefits.
- Consolidate control of operating expenses.
- Remove controls (regulations) impacting freedom of action.
- Establish barriers that prevent challenges to the corporate state’s control.

The marching orders are clear, concise; the guidelines are flexible, yet focused. Easily understood and executed in our world of sound bites and generalities; critical thinking is not required.

Removal of collective bargaining rights for Child Care Providers was a symbolic message to corporate entities “Maine is Open for Business, no wage or benefit concerns here” and to the citizens of Maine “your rights to fair compensation and benefits are controlled by the corporate state”.

The continuing attempt to repeal the Maine ban of BPA, the harmful chemical found in plastic bottles, is another symbolic message to corporate entities “Maine is open for business, put what you want into your products” and to the citizens of Maine “don’t waste your time challenging the corporate state about health concerns because Paul LePage and his administration doesn’t care about your health”.

Educational Commissioner Steve Bowen’s dismissal of a citizen’s group shortly after Paul LePage’s comment that “all middle-management are corrupt”, was a message to corporate entities “Maine is open for business; if someone gets in your way, they’re gone”.

None of this is difficult to accomplish if you have pre-written legislation (ALEC); critical thinking is not required.

Can it be more insidious? State revenue from within the state comes from state income, sales, and real estate taxes. Reducing the state income tax more than likely places additional burden on sales and real estate taxes; and that is Paul LePage’s intent.

Those who can least afford real estate tax increases are the middle-class and working-class. Mainers will have to work harder and longer, for wages and benefits more highly controlled by corporate entities.

The message to corporate entities is “Maine is open for business, pay the citizens what you want, no one will get in your way because they won’t have the time or money to object” and to the citizens of Maine “go to Wal-Mart, treat yourself to a six-pack of PBR, sit on the porch and count your blessings”.

Elimination of the middle-class and working-class, is it social Darwinism or social genocide? Paul LePage doesn’t care what you call his actions, all he cares about is being CEO of the corporate state of Maine.

Robert McQueeney's picture

Bullying or not, I have heard

Bullying or not, I have heard co-workers telling stories of how they got away with egregious actions, because they got fired for them but were still able to collect unemployment. Getting fired means getting fired, you are disruptive to your work space and co-workers, or you are stealing (or any list of actions) and you should be fired with no source of payment for such actions. The folks who get laid off due to lack of available work need the unemployment and have earned it. Let's keep rates affordable for business but not forcing them to support folks they shouldn't be.

Catherine Pressey's picture

list of actions companies fall to prove if they loose.

There you go Robert, you just said a mouth full of crap, hearsay is what you are basing you opinion on. You heard that someone is bragging about how they got benefits they should not have. Nothing more disruptive to our state then people like you, that think most persons want to get fired or be disruptive, Let me tell you a wee story about a large company in Auburn Maine I once worked for. My job was maintenance my department head, treated me with out respect. If I was out sick for any reason it took three men to do my job. And I worked right under and around all the production workers stations. Cleaning, dust! One day as I was working a lady was talking to me. Funny thing is I could not hear what she was saying anyway. But ladies love to talk, and I continued to move around the area and mop between the machines. My what I call big boss, saw the lady wagging her mouth. And I frequently would shake my head out of respect for these people. Like I was hearing her, well my big boss, a small man came by me and yelled, hollered so loud that all the production people near by could hear him. He said for me to hit the road, throwing his fist up with this thumb out. Now I was not doing anything wrong was doing my job, and If for any reason I was in the wrong, he had the right to have my direct boss speak to me, in private about the concerns. I was indeed humiliated by this man’s actions. I cried the rest of the day, and had a hard time to complete my duties and like many of, we workers needed my job. Cried all the way home and then got to thinking. I went and got poster boards made up a poster for both my back and my front that said the same. Tied rope on them and hung the on my body. That said to the ladies please do not talk to me I do not enjoy being yelled at or hollered at. I put the definition of the words on the poster. To yell to holler. Well though I still have hurt feeling when I think about that big boss. I have to say, there was quite a stir in the office that day. Plant manager saw me, turned and went into the office then my big boss came looking for me. LOL He demanded that I take off my sign, I said give me a good reason to take it off. I was not hurting anything and I was doing my job. Mind you he did not yell at me to take the darn sign off!
Well can not recall the whole picture, but just telling me to take it off was not going to work. And finally he came up with that good reason, one he said I was disrupting the production floor, when he could see my frustration with him. We went into his office and had a wee chat. Where by I took the sign off. I think he knew he was wrong to yell/holler embarrass or humiliate me. And I was treated with kid gloves in the matter, I did not want to be treated like that and I got my point across. And if I could have walked out that door the day before I would have. Workers need their jobs I will not believe in the whole, persons are better off on unemployment than to work for a good wage and in good work environment. Much lacking in our state, the money sucks the hours are not based on any family values. Swing shifts long days. Weekends. This is all what was, once good company when I was hired at that place. The plant manager/that interviewed me and hired me said welcome to the _______ family and for many years it was a great place. Until the new rule by fear attitude came into the work place. That is just what Governor Paul LePage is doing here. Put these good men and woman just doing their jobs in fear. That fear is loosing that good job that they try their best to do. One last thing so you also want most of us to believe that they made the wrong call on those so called hear say cases. You can not believe hearsay, these men and women look to the facts and if the employer has their facts messed up it speaks for itself. They are going to loose. THE TRUTH IS THE TRUTH, AND HOPEULLY THEY MAKE MANY RIGHT DECISIONS. They are only human! My job paid better than unemployment get a grip. MY opinion.

Why don't you see how much of

Why don't you see how much of what you state is a double standard? For example--a room of Democrats who are Union MSEA employees might also be embellishing on the good intentions of the Governor to address a problem in a bureaucracy. Why is it that anyone who speaks on behalf of what you view as an opposing side is full of crap and BS? But of course you are the only reader in the world who is in the "know". Before LePage became Governor, we've had issues with bureaucracy. Remember when DHS was told to be better with the customers and when they got bullet proof glass? Bureaucracy has always had issues with lack of customer connection and truly caring about applicants other than them being a number. A current course on public policy will show that it's been around long before LePage. LePage should be addressing issues of bureaucracy and I admire him for it.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Linda, why make this a political argument????

In following your post's, I understand your concerns. However why make this an "US" against "THEM", or Democrat versus Republican. This is a case of a Governor committing a serious case of coercion. The Governor had no business inviting that level of management to his office in the first place. Just having them present at the Blaine House is enough to imply improper behavior. LePage has his "attitude" to blame for all of this. I'm sure that people who worked with him in Waterville, as well as Mardens, will have stories of his arrogant behavior. That is just how some people operate. Arrogance has no place in politics. A Democratic Society can not function with a "Dictator" at the head of the crowd. Two sides debating toward a bipartisan conclusion doesn't cut it, if there's a dictator waiting to ignore everything and do as he pleases. This is what all these posts are all about, not whether their Democrat, or Republican. It's the Governor, using his position to manipulate a system that is supposed to be fair and unbiased. This one issue has such far reaching consequences, that it has to be derailed now. I'm disabled, how many decisions had to be made for my S.S. benefits, my Medicare. If any of those decisions were made entirely on political basis, and my benefits were denied, where would I be then. Every time someone files an application, requests a hearing or stands before a judge, they must have independent, fair decisions rendered. What would this country be if we had fifty LePages??????????????????????

Frank, because I've become

Frank, because I've become more active in my local, county and state issues; I've come to see politics as usual. I hate that it's always about us and them but that is fact.I'd like to see the issues of mishandling applicants taken care of and the unemployment insurance program arrive at some solutions rather than THEM making this a political issue like they have. Please refer to the comment that I responded to that prompted my comment. People here who hate our Republican Governor so much I would venture to guess they are not Republicans. Like it or not, that is the premise of their hatred.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

I agree to a point........

I understand your fight, I went to war in 1984 with DHS. Actually to be fair it was the "Support Enforcement" squad. To me I didn't care if they leaned right or left. to me they were prejudice against absent parents. I won't go into details, but it got ugly. I wasn't asking for much, just a little respect. I fought the better part of two decades, I almost wound up in jail, I was banned from their building for many years. So I know how it feels to chase justice from State Government.
You stated that you feel that I hate LePage because he is a Republican. I could care less what he is. It's what he stands for that gets me. He enjoys targeting the elderly, the poor and disabled. Those are his favorite targets when he needs to cut something, in the pursuit of more money. He attacks these groups of people because they are less likely to fight back. Well I am one disabled person who isn't afraid to fight back, and I have the background to prove it. I will continue to magnify every little issue LePage screws up, I will continue to comment on it, even after being told I over do it, to bad. I will keep this fight up as long as it takes for The Governor to place every single person in this State on the same playing field. No more preference to one class over the others.............

 's picture

hearings

Believe it or not, that's why there is a hearing process. Employers are just as capable of making up b.s. reasons for terminating an employee as employees are.

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