Fighting for a Worker-Centered Stimulus

IN THIS EDITION:

  • Frontline Workers Highlight Priorities for Next Federal Stimulus Bill
  • Postal Unions Meet with Congressional Delegation Over USPS Funding
  • Our Virtual COPE Convention — June 25th & 26th
  • Nominations for “Steward of the Year” Now Open
  • Labor History: When Maine Workers Fought for the 10-Hour Day

Frontline Workers Highlight Priorities for Next Federal Stimulus Bill

Union members on a zoom press conference with reporters Wednesday.


Last Wednesday, workers representing firefighters, nurses, state employees, postal workers and construction workers called on Congress to protect the health and safety of workers and to provide more funding to support state and local governments, the Postal Service, and critical infrastructure improvements. Rick Caillier, President Lewiston Firefighters, IAFF 785, said that the City of Lewiston is projecting a 12 percent decrease in revenues, which is forcing it to leave 12 positions vacant, including two police officers and a fire inspector.

“I have witnessed the impact of reductions to city services. They predominantly impact the poor and vulnerable. The loss of an inspector will have a serious impact, “ said Caillier. 

Last week, House Democrats unveiled the House Heroes Act, which includes numerous provisions to protect the health, safety and financial security of workers. It provides $875 billion in state and local aid, with $500 billion to states and $375 billion to towns and cities. It also includes a provision to close the loophole in the Families’ First Coronavirus Response Act that is preventing many health care workers, first responders and other frontline employees from accessing paid family leave to protect themselves and their families from exposure to COVID-19. In addition, it provides $25 billion for the US Postal Service, which is a positive step toward shoring up Postal Service. For more information about what's in the bill check out this informative one-pager.

Postal Unions Meet with Congressional Delegation Over USPS Funding

Postal union leaders meeting with a staffer for Sen. Susan Collins last Thursday.


Leaders from Maine branches of the National Association of Letter Carriers, National Postal Mail Handler’s Union and American Postal Workers Union have met with Senator Angus King, Congressman Jared Golden, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree and a staffer from Senator Susan Collins' office over the passed few weeks to discuss the need for funding the US Postal Service as it struggles to stay afloat amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The USPS situation is made much more difficult by the idiotic Congressionally imposed requirement to prefund retiree healthcare costs 75 years out. 

The postal workers reminded members of Congress that in order to process and deliver the mail, lifesaving medical supplies and prescriptions and absentee ballots, the agency needs one-time funding of at least $75 billion. This would fund the difference between postage revenue and actual operating costs, compensation to the USPS for paid sick leave, hazard pay for USPS workers, and no-strings attached for money borrowed by the USPS. Click here to tell our Congressional representatives to save the Postal Service.

Are You Ready for Our First Virtual COPE Convention?

As a result of the COVID 19 pandemic we will hold our Maine AFL-CIO 2020 Committee on Political Education (COPE) Convention as a virtual online convention June 25 – 26, 2020.  As we face a global economic and health crisis, it’s more important than ever to build workers’ power – in the workplace, broader society and at the ballot box. The COPE Convention is where representatives from all affiliate local unions of the Maine AFL-CIO come together to discuss our ongoing response to the COVID crisis, develop our political agenda for the coming year and to make political endorsements.

To participate as a delegate, please reach out to your Local Union for information on your union’s process for COPE Convention delegate selection. Affiliated local union presidents should have received information about convention, votes and delegates and registration.  All local unions are strongly urged to send delegates.  

Nominations Open for Steward of the Year

Do you know a steward in your union who goes above and beyond the call of duty? Someone who fights hard for fair contracts, educates and helps members with workplace issues, engages members in collective action, and leads by example? Please consider nominating this exceptional steward for our Maine AFL-CIO Steward of the Year Award! Last year, the Maine AFL-CIO Convention passed a resolution creating the new “Steward of the Year” award because we believe union stewards are critical to building a stronger labor movement. Stewards often do a lot of work behind the scenes that does not always get the attention and recognition it deserves. 

A committee will evaluate all the submissions, make a selection, and recognize the steward at our Maine AFL-CIO online COPE Convention on Thursday June 25 - Friday June 26. The deadline for nominations is Monday, June 15. Click here for the steward nomination and more information about the criteria.

Labor History: When Maine Workers Fought for the 10-Hour Day

In the 19th century, many Mainers worked grueling, 14-15 hour days doing physically demanding work in factories, quarries and in the woods. But in the 1840s, Mainers got organized and began fighting for a shorter work day. 

173 years ago this month — on May 8, in 1847 — the New England Association sent petitions in support of a 10-hour work day to the various local mechanics' associations all over the region. The petitions were signed by workers forwarded to state legislatures as factory operatives (primarily women) and mechanics sang:

"We will have the Ten Hour Bill—
That we will—that we will;
Else the land shall ne're be still—

Never still—never still!"

In Maine, petitions carrying the names of 3,189 men "from many parts of the state, and all trades, occupations and professions" were sent to the Legislature in 1848 calling for the ten-hour work day. Click here to learn more about the 10-hour day movement. 

Source: "Collective Efforts Among Maine Workers: Beginnings and Foundations, 1820-1880" by Charlie Scontras.