This week we bring you another profile of a member of the Executive Branch Master Bargaining Team, Ken Muske.
Muske works in the Portsmouth office of New Hampshire Employment Security as an interviewer, helping claimants who are having trouble applying for benefits. In addition, he handles legal adjudications of claim issues. He’s been an active SEA member for more than eight years.
“I joined the day I was hired full time on Sept. 1, 2006,” Muske said. “This was before fee pay was enacted. I was a part-time employee for two years prior to this and was always told part-timers could not join. Thankfully, this is no longer true.”
Muske lives in Portsmouth with his wife of 46 years — they have “three grown children and three growing grandchildren,” he notes.
When he’s not working, he said he likes to fence, camp, shoot longbow and “do medieval re-enactment when I have time.” He’s also heavily involved in his community.
“I have been a volunteer, employee and on the board of directors of a number of nonprofits, including a developmental service agency, a mental health agency, a child care center, an Adult Learning Center, Rotary and the Red cross,” Muske said. “I was a Portsmouth School Board member for four years, as well.”
He’s active in the SEA, too, serving in a number of roles in addition to the Master Bargaining Team. He’s a councilor and treasurer of Chapter 19, serves as a steward at NH Employment Security, and is a member of the Collective Bargaining Senate, the Contract Action Team, the Collective Bargaining Advisory Committee, the Steward Committee and the Employment Security Subunit Bargaining Team.
Muske said his work experience prior to joining state service prepared him for serving on the bargaining team.
“I was a program officer negotiating Navy aircraft engine and parts contracts before I became the Commanding Officer of a defense plant contract agency office employing 255 civilians administering $6 billion in contracts,” he said.
In negotiating, Muske said he tends toward a collaborative approach.
“I tend to listen more than speak, and I believe in a collaborative process to achieve mutually beneficial results,” he said. “We keep at it until we forge that common ground.”
He said he wants to deliver a fair and relevant contract, while also growing the union’s strength to better serve membership and the public. To do that, all must come together.
“We only hold any authority as a group,” Muske said. “We must pull together as a united team. The Contract Action Teams are an obvious approach to organizing and informing our fellow workers to impact these negotiations.”
“Being active in a chapter is essential and further serving as a chapter officer, councilor or steward provides a structure for empowering our union brothers and sisters,” he said.