Fighting for Stronger Labor Standards

IN THIS EDITION:

  • Workers Support Bill to Ensure Clean Energy Projects Create Good Quality Union Jobs & Advance Equity
  • Nurses at EMMC Win Contract to Improve Patient Safety, Wages and Staffing
  • Railway Workers Urge Congressional Delegation to Protect Public Safety & Union Jobs In Pan Am Railways Acquisition 
  • Maine Race & Labor History Presentation — Wed., April 21st
  • UA Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 716 Career Fair — Wed. April 21st
  • Union Members Turn Out for New Member Orientation Training 
  • Labor Council President & USW retiree Calls for Online Voter Registration at “Democracy Day Event”
  • Upcoming PRO Act Events!

Workers Support Bill to Ensure Clean Energy Projects CreateGood Quality Union Jobs & Advance Equity

IBEW 567 apprentice Beth Kleene testifies in support of LD 1231 last week.


Maine union members, climate organizers and equity organizations testified last week in support of a bill (LD 1231) that would create high quality clean energy jobs, tackle climate change and advance racial and gender equity in the renewable energy industry. LD 1231sponsored by Rep. Scott Cuddy (D-Winterport & IBEW 1253 member), follows recommendations put forth in the Maine Climate Council's Four-Year Action Plan, which highlights the importance of “efforts to target the creation of ... high-quality jobs through strategies that pair job quality standards with clean-energy investments.” 

"I can say from first hand experience that a strong registered apprenticeship program has made a very positive impact in my life," said Beth Kleene, a third-year electrician apprentice with IBEW 567. It’s meant I can earn a living while learning a trade and that education you get doesn’t leave you in debt. If we are going to tackle climate change at the pace we need to we have to build out a highly skilled Maine based workforce to do it. We have to make sure people get really good training, are paid well for their labor, and that we are bringing a diverse set of people into these jobs." 

Kleene was joined in her testimony by other apprentices from IBEW 567 & IBEW 1253 and leaders from LIUNA 327, Iron 7, Maine AFL-CIO, the Penobscot Nation, Maine Youth for Climate Justice, Blue Green Alliance and MPA. 

The bill would require payment of prevailing wages and use of registered apprenticeship programs on renewable energy construction projects. It would also encourage the use of Project Labor Agreements - a project management tool to encourage a union workforce and projects to be done on time and on budget - and the hiring of veterans, women, indigenous folks and people of color on these projects. 

MSNA Nurses at EMMC Win Contract to Improve Patient Safety, Wages and Staffing

MSNA nurses at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor have just ratified a two-year contract extension that includes significant improvements to staffing, an agreement to fix long-standing issues in the critical care departments and wage increases that reward nurses for their life-saving work during the pandemic. Congratulations, sisters and brothers!

Railway Workers Urge Congressional Delegation to Protect Public Safety & Union Jobs In Pan Am Railways Acquisition

Maine union railway workers (SMART TD) met with staffers from Maine’s Congressional delegation earlier this month to urge our elected officials to call on federal regulators to protect public safety and union jobs in the pending sale of Maine’s largest railroad to Florida-based CSX. The sale of the Massachusetts-based Pan-Am Railways is currently under review by the federal Transportation Safety Board.

SMART TD members asked the delegation to ensure Amtrak Downeaster services continue, that union jobs be preserved and that "plant railroads" in Rumford and Old Town be returned to the company’s oversight in the final sale agreement.

Two years ago, the railroad operation at Nine Dragons mills in Rumford and Old Town was outsourced to non-union subcontractors to save money. These contractors are unlicensed and exempt from most Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) railway safety inspections, drug and alcohol testing requirements and fines and penalties for cutting corners. Accidents on these “plant rails” also do not have to be reported to safety regulators despite the fact that the cars often haul hazardous substances. Pan Am railway workers said the Rumford plant line is the most dangerous part of the Pan Am rail property due to the treacherous terrain.

“You don’t become a good conductor or good engineer without at least five years in the craft. Now they’re replacing us with any old joe off the street who wants to move some trains around,” a union spokesman said. “These folks are coming in and doing switching operations in extraordinarily sensitive economic zones in the state. If a bunch of cars got away and went down into the Rumford mill, you’re talking about a major catastrophe for a huge employer.”

Presentation on Maine Race & Labor History — Wed., April 21st

A 19th century ad from Lewiston's Continental Textile Mill reveals the not-so-subtle connection between one of Maine's leading industries and its vested interest in slavery.



The A. Philip Randolph Institute, Maine Chapter will devote most of its April meeting to a presentation and discussion on Maine Race and Labor History on Wednesday, April 21 at 6:30 pm. Andy O'Brien, Communications Director at the Maine AFL-CIO, will give a slideshow talk, followed by Q&A and discussion. All with interest in the subject are invited to attend. 
We gather at 6:15 for informal socializing, The program will begin at 6:30 and last for approximately 60 minutes, followed by about 1/2 hour of other APRI business for which everyone is welcome to stay if they wish. There is no charge to attend the event.

UA Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 716 Career Fair — Wed. April 21st

Are you looking for a good union career in the trades? Consider coming down to the UA Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 716 Career Fair on Wednesday, April 21 from 9am to 3pm at 21 Gabriel Drive in Augusta. Local 716 is seeking plumbers, HVAC/R Techs, pipe fitters and pipe welders to join the union family. The Local will be hosting interviews for upcoming job openings and scheduling pipe welders for testing. Stop in just to learn more about what they can offer you and tour their state-of-the-art training facility.

Union Members Turn Out for New Member Orientation Training 

Union organizers attend new member orientation last weekend.


What do we do when new hires join our union, or when we ask them to join the union? That was the topic of discussion on Friday and Saturday April 9th and 10th as two groups of union leaders went through a New Member Orientation Train the Trainers. 41 members from 17 different local unions participated in the training that was led by Kim Cook from the Worker Institute at Cornell University.  

We focused on making the orientations engaging and a two-way conversation, on explaining the union as the workers and not as a third-party, what to do if you don’t have time on the clock with new hires, the all important follow-up plans, and many more best practices for making the best first impression with new members. Engaging and educating new members, who may have never been in a union before, is crucial part of how we can strengthen our local unions and the labor movement.  Due to enthusiasm around the topic, we hope to offer this training regularly in the future.  If you want to be on the list for the next time this is held, please email [email protected].

Labor Council President & USW Retiree Calls for Online Voter Registration at “Democracy Day Event”

Western Maine Labor Council President & USW 900 retiree, Linda Deane, joined Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, legislators and voting rights advocates last week to call on state lawmakers to pass legislation (LD 1126) that would integrate online voter registration into Maine’s elections. The event was sponsored by a new group called Mainers for Modern Elections, which advocates for safe, secure, modern elections. The coalition is committed to securing equitable access to the ballot for every eligible Maine voter.

Deane pointed out that allowing voters to register online is more convenient, would save money, and make the verification process faster and and more secure because voter registration records would be automatically tied to drivers’ license/state ID records or social security numbers.

“Maine citizens have the ability to renew their driver’s license, register a car, pay property/state taxes, and get a hunting/fishing license online. We need the ability to register to vote in this way also,” Deane said. “Mainers should not have to use a vacation or sick day to exercise the right to register to vote.”

Upcoming PRO Act Events

There are a number of upcoming educational events on the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, legislation to strengthen workers' right to organize. Want to learn more? You are invited to join!

Tuesday, April 20 at 6pm — Western Maine Labor Council's Virtual PRO ACT Teach-In: Learn what’s in the PRO Act, how it will help you, your union, and workers who want to form a union – and what you can do to make it reality. Please register here to attend!

Wednesday, April 21 from noon to 12:50pm — Maine AFL-CIO President's Lunch & Learn on the American Jobs Plan: Bill Samuel, the Government Affairs Director from the national AFL-CIO will provide an overview of President Biden's infrastructure bill (which includes the PRO Act), what it will do, and how it will support unions, workers, and our economy.  Please register here to attend!

Wednesday, April 21,  4:45pm - 5:45pm at Bates College —  "Strengthening Workers’ Rights & the Labor Movement" Forum: Voices from Maine's labor movement to talk about challenges workers face today in forming unions and the PRO Act. Register here to attend!

Monday, April 26th, 7 - 8:30 pm — Maine DSA's PRO Act Virtual Town Hall — Local and national labor organizers will discuss what the PRO Act is, how it would impact Maine, and what we can do to take action. Register here to attend!