Sisters and Brothers,
As many of you already know, on Tuesday night Gov. Jay Nixon delivered his annual State of the State address. This was Gov. Nixon’s opportunity to present the legislature with his budget proposal for next year. In his address, like in previous years, the Governor outlined how the recession has hurt all Missourians. Even though some folks say we’re slowly working our way out of the recession, you wouldn’t know it by looking at the budget. The state still isn’t collecting as much money as it has in the past. Because of this, cuts in service will once again be necessary to balance the budget.
As Missouri’s public workers, you know better than anyone how budget cuts in previous years have affected the services we provide. It’s getting harder and harder to do our jobs. Because of this, when we hear the phrase “budget cuts,” we all get very nervous about what exactly that means. Also because of this, you deserve to know what exactly the budget proposal means for your jobs and your facilities. Here are some of the things that affect our membership:
- Pension Funding: No cuts or changes were proposed to the state employee pension system, or MOSERS.
- Health Care: Missouri Consolidated Health Care Plan (MCHCP), the state’s health care provider, was funded the same amount as last year. It will now be up to us to make sure MCHCP knows how important it is to not raise our health care premiums.
- Veterans Homes: No cuts or reductions were proposed to the state’s Veterans Homes.
- Dept. of Mental Health: Cuts were made in DMH, but not nearly as many as feared. Of the 800 recommended cuts, only 40 come from mental health facilities. The majority of these cuts will be administrative positions in management. Even though the number of cuts is small, it’s now more important than ever that we stand together to prevent these cuts from affecting our sisters and brothers.
- Dept. of Corrections: Cuts were proposed, but only in the ranks of management. Our members will not see job cuts.
- Office of Administration: Craft & Maintenance employees of OA will see no job cuts.
- 2% Pay Raise: State employees were given a 2% pay raise that would take effect Jan. 1, 2013, not July 1, 2012 as was negotiated in our contract.
We have also been told that the administration is proposing to completely close Northwest Habilitation Center. This will of course, have a dire impact on our members. The proposal calls for the closure of the facility and job cuts in the ranks of management only. The employees and clients will be moved to another facility in the St. Louis area. All of our members at Northwest Habilitation Center will have the opportunity to keep their job at one of these facilities. It is incredibly important to note that this is the only facility that is slated for closure. Members who work at Northwest Habilitation Center will receive further communication from us in the very near future.
With regards to our 2% pay raise, our Bargaining Team members worked tirelessly for months during negotiations. When they decided to agree to the 2% pay raise, we were the only union to have a pay raise negotiated in our contract. Just so everyone is clear, this is not what we bargained for. All state employees should be outraged by this.
We are encouraging every state worker in all of our facilities to contact Gov. Nixon and tell him that this is not what we bargained for, and this is not what state employees deserve. Below is a sample script for when you call the governor’s office.
The governor’s office number is: (573) 751-3222
Hello, my name is _______________________ and I am calling to leave a message for Governor Nixon.
Governor Nixon, as an AFSCME member and a dedicated state employee, I am extremely disappointed with your broken promise and decision not to propose our full 2% pay increase which was agreed to in our contract. State workers have done our part in this tough economy by providing the highest quality services and going without pay raises for over 4 years, and Missouri can do better than having the worst-paid workforce in the nation. I am asking you to reconsider this proposal and ask the legislature to make our 2% pay raise effective July 1, 2012, as your administration agreed to do.
Once you have contacted the governor’s office and expressed your disappointment, please encourage your coworkers, family members, and friends to contact him as well. The governor cannot ignore a highly organized movement of dedicated state workers and our allies who are calling on him to keep his promise to ask the legislature to appropriate our pay raise.
No matter what, AFSCME will continue to fight to preserve and expand the rights of workers in Missouri and we ask you to continue to stand with us.
Alexandra Townsend, Political Coordinator
Josh McCarroll, Legislative Director