Frontline workers demand paid leave & more


  • Union members Urge Congress to Extend & Expand Paid Leave for Frontline Workers
  • IAM Local S6 Raises $10,000 for Toys for Tots Campaign
  • Frontline Workers: Can You Share Your Story?
  • Tell Congress to Pass a COVID Relief Stimulus Package!

Maine Union Leaders Urge Congress to Extend & Expand Paid Leave for Frontline Workers

Union leaders meeting with staff from Senator King's & Congressman Golden's office.

On Wednesday, union leaders representing teachers, nurses, fire fighters, nursing home workers, electricians, mill workers, public employees, stage employees and others urged our Congressional representatives to pass a COVID relief stimulus that will provide paid leave for frontline workers. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which Congress passed last spring and expires at the end of the month, provides ten paid sick days for employees who need to quarantine, self-isolate or care for a family member with COVID. 

A bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Senators Angus King and Susan Collins, have put forth a COVID relief stimulus framework that has some important supports, but lets the paid leave provisions expire. This will leave millions of workers without paid leave if they are exposed to the coronavirus or need to care for a family member.

Currently, health care workers and first responders are excluded from the federal paid leave law so they are often required to take unpaid leave instead. For nursing home employees, this has put a tremendous financial burden on a workforce that is already overworked, underpaid and understaffed. Lisa White, a nursing home worker and President of AFT Local 5093, told staff representatives for Senator Angus King, Congressman Jared Golden and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree that she just finished her second unpaid quarantine due to exposure to coronavirus.

“Since COVID-19 hit Maine, we have struggled with a lack of proper protective equipmentextremely short staffing levels and unpaid quarantines,” said White. “It is disheartening to know that when we are exposed to the coronavirus, not only do we panic while waiting for the results, but we cannot earn any money to feed our families. We’re called 'heroes' in TV ads, but we’re dismissed as collateral damage when we lose our lives to the virus.”

White says her biggest fear is that workers who are forced to choose between staying home and paying for basic necessities will choose to go work sick and expose residents and staff to the virus. The US House has already passed stimulus bills that extend paid leave and close loopholes that exempt first responders and health care workers, but a representative from Senator King’s office said that Republicans are opposing those provisions in the latest COVID relief bill. He said they will continue to push for extension of paid leave in any final stimulus deal, but so far both parties are still in negotiations.

IAM Local S6 Raises $10,000 in Donations for Toys for Tots 

Local S6 volunteers collecting donations for the Toys for Tots campaign.

Last week Machinists Local S6’s Community Services Committee held their annual US Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots campaign. The mission of the Marine Toys for Tots Program is to collect new unwrapped toys and distribute them to less fortunate children at Christmas. This year Local S6 members collected $8079.61 at all Bath Iron Works gates and facilities. The toys they collected are estimated to be worth a couple thousand dollars, which makes the total donations worth over $10,000 dollars. Machinists District Lodge 4 also donated another $1,000 to the campaign and adopted two families in Lisbon for another $1,000. Amazing work brothers and sisters!

Frontline Workers: Can You Share Your Story?

USW 366 members who make masks for American Roots in Westbrook.

On Thursday, for the third day in a row, coronavirus cases in Maine topped 400, leading health officials to worry that it will lead to even more hospitalizations and deaths. As the Press Herald reports, 172 Mainers are hospitalized with COVID-19 in Maine, with 45 in intensive care, which is 10 times the daily average during the summer. Needless to say, this is an extremely difficult time for working people on the frontlines.

Our Maine AFL-CIO COVID Response Committee is currently putting together video statements from union members on the frontlines of this pandemic and we would like to hear what life is like for you on the frontlines these days. Reply to this email or message us on Facebook to get the details of how to submit a video message. 

Tell Congress to Pass a COVID Relief Stimulus Package!