Big Two Days in Bangor!

IN THIS EDITION:

  • Maine AFL-CIO Biennial Convention Recap
  • Supporting the Chicago Teachers Strike
  • Nurses Hold Vigil for a Fair Contract in Ellsworth
  • Ironworkers Discuss Offshore Wind at Conference
  • Workers & Unions Support Strimling in Portland Mayor's race

Maine AFL-CIO Reelects Phinney & Carleton, Passes Climate Resolution & Endorses Golden at Biennial Convention

Union brothers and sisters representing more than 60 locals and union councils from all over Maine flocked to Bangor last week for our 32nd Biennial Convention. Delegates unanimously re-elected Maine AFL-CIO President Cynthia Phinney (IBEW 1837) and Maine AFL-CIO Vice President Pat Carleton (USW 9) to four-year terms, recognizing their tireless efforts on behalf of all workers. The convention also elected a new executive board and voted overwhelmingly to endorse Congressman Jared Golden for another term. Jared has been a champion for Maine’s working class in Washington!

Vinny Alvarez, president of the 1.3 million member New York City Central Labor Council, and Mike Fishman, retired president of SEIU 32BJ, discussed the inspiring work of the union coalition Climate Jobs New York in organizing to address income inequality & the climate crisis through the creation of good union jobs in the renewable energy sector. They shared their story and lessons from organizing in New York to help inform our labor climate jobs work in Maine. 

The Maine AFL-CIO convention passed a resolution calling for federal & state climate change policies to include the expansion of workers’ rights, prevailing wages, project labor agreements & an equitable, just transition for workers impacted by a transitioning economy. Delegates also passed resolutions in support of the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act, calling for No Vote on NAFTA until its Fixed and creating an annual steward of the year award. 

Eddie Acosta from the national AFL-CIO led a spirited discussion on how some employers use our broken immigration system to exploit workers & drive down wages and working standards for everyone. Eddie noted several examples in which immigration raids have been used to retaliate against workers forming unions and urged workers to continue advocating for a pathway to citizenship for the millions of undocumented workers in the US.

The convention also had a discussion of how to respond to the moment we are in with a massive increase in collective action, strikes and support for unions. We discussed our vision for workers' rights and the right to organize. The convention highlighted a number of local worker struggles including Ellsworth and Calais nurses, loggers efforts to organize, the growth of our local A. Philip Randolph Institute chapter and much more. We also recapped the last legislative session, trained folks on how to use our legislative scorecard, recognized fantastic award winners and had great skill building breakout workshops.

For more coverage of the two-day event, check out these great stories in Fox BangorWABI TV and Maine Public.

Supporting the Chicago Teachers Strike!

Chicago Teacher Jackie Charles briefs the Maine AFL-CIO convention about the strike.


Chicago public teachers have reached a tentative deal with the Chicago Public Schools following a courageous 15-day strike. By organizing the full community, making broad based demands to "bargain for the common good" and by striking, teachers and educational workers won increased funding to specifically reduce class size, a full time nurse and social worker for every school every day, improvements for student athletics, a 16 percent raise over five years and much more. 

The solidarity of the workers in this struggle has been incredibly inspiring. Earlier this week, SEIU Local 73 — the union representing custodians, bus aides and teaching assistants — had reached a tentative agreement with the administration but vowed stay on the picket lines until a deal was reached with the teachers.  Teamsters drivers are also refusing to cross the picket lines until the strike is resolved. 

Nurses Hold Vigil for a Fair Contract in Ellsworth

Bangor Fire fighter Dale Wunder (IAFF 772) & his girlfriend Nichole supporting nurses in Ellsworth.


Registered nurses and hospital technicians at Northern Light Maine Coast Hospital in Ellsworth, Maine held a vigil on Tuesday to fight for patient safety and a fair contract. The registered nurses and technicians, who are members of the Maine State Nurses Association, have been in contract negotiations since May. The technicians have been in first-contract negotiations since November 2017. For more on the story, check out coverage from WABIFox Bangor, the Ellsworth American and the Maine Beacon.

And please take a moment to email the hospital President John Ronan and tell him to settle a fair contract with the workers!

Ironworkers Discuss Offshore Wind at Conference

Ironworkers Local 7 in partnership with the Ironworkers International held a half day convening in Portland earlier this month on offshore wind, the labor movement and tackling inequality and the climate crisis. As offshore wind takes root up and down the eastern seaboard there is an important question about what kind of jobs will be involved in the construction, maintenance and supply chain for wind and other forms of renewable energy. The Ironworkers and other unions are working hard to make all of these jobs good paying, union jobs that are a key part of addressing climate instability.

The convening brought together international experts, elected officials, leaders from the Ironworkers International, the National AFL-CIO, the Blue Green Alliance and others to share information on trends in the offshore wind industry, efforts to make these union jobs and challenges in the process. It was a great opportunity to move the conversation forward in Maine and connect people working on these issues.   

“With the cost of wind turbines coming down and strong public support for renewable energy, there is an excellent opportunity for jobs in the offshore wind sector,” said Grant Provost, labor rep for Ironworkers 7. “But we need to push for pro-worker policies like project labor agreements to ensure that these are good union jobs that pay living wages with benefits.”

Unions Support Strimling in Portland Mayor's Race 

More than 30 unions, including the Portland Firefighters, Maine AFL-CIO, Southern Maine Labor Council and others, have endorsed Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling for re-election on Tuesday November 5.  Mayor Strimling has publicly worked to raise wages, implement Paid Sick Days, protect public safety and fire service in Portland, maintain a working waterfront, actively support workers when they are organizing, enact responsible contracting policies when we spend public dollars on construction and much more. He's walked the walk on workers' issues. Please encourage your members, family and friends who live in Portland to support Mayor Strimling in Tuesday's election.

We are working to educate and engage union members. Let us know if you are willing to talk to your members or volunteer in the final stretch. Please share our Maine AFL-CIO endorsement meme supporting Ethan on your Facebook page.