Maine AFL-CIO Applauds House Passage of Critical Covid Relief Bill, Disappointed by Rep. Golden 'No' Vote

IN THIS EDITION:

  • Maine AFL-CIO Applauds House Passage of Critical Covid Relief Bill, Disappointed by Rep. Golden 'No' Vote
  • Signs of Support for Maine Med Nurses!
  • Union Members Gather for 2021 Legislative Conference
  • Coalition calls on Legislators to Roll Back Tax Cuts for the Rich
  • Letter Carrier Discusses Need to Strengthen USPS with Senator King
  • Building Trades Members Call for Better Safety Training on Construction Sites
  • Rep. Golden Leads Over 100 Colleagues to Push for Action on the PRO Act
  • Union Members Rally at Sen. King’s Office for Covid Relief & $15 Minimum Wage

Maine AFL-CIO Applauds House Passage of Critical Covid Relief Bill, Disappointed by Rep. Golden 'No' Vote

Last week, the US House of Representatives voted to pass a $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill that would raise wages and provide critical funding for public services, vaccinations, $1,400 stimulus checks, assistance for laid off workers, funding for schools, emergency family medical leave and more. The package includes:

  • Funding for coronavirus testing and contact tracing and vaccine distribution and supply chains
  • Federal aid to state and local governments to prevent layoffs and cuts to public services
  • Pension relief for multi-employer pension plans to ensure workers get pension benefits they are owed
  • A raise in the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 per hour by 2025
  • An extension of pandemic unemployment benefits
  • $1,400 stimulus checks
  • An extension of paid sick and family leave for workers who have to quarantine or care for a child when schools close
  • Funding to help local schools comply with Covid safety guidelines
  • An expansion of the Child Tax Credit that would cut child poverty in half
  • Supports for healthcare coverage and rental and food assistance for workers who have fallen on hard times

We thank Congresswoman Chellie Pingree for voting for this important legislation. We are very disappointed that Congressman Jared Golden was one of two Democrats to vote against the bill. The legislation would provide critical relief to workers struggling in the worst economic and public health crisis we've seen in a century. It would also ensure that we more quickly and equitably come out of this economic crisis. It took years for working people to recover from the Great Recession. 

The question for any bill is whether we will be better off as a state, country and labor movement if it passes. It is crystal clear that working people in Maine and across the country will be significantly better off if this bill passes. In the midst of this deadly pandemic we need to make critical investments to combat COVID 19, fund vaccines, protect frontline workers, and support working class people. We hope Congressman Golden will reconsider his position and the worldview brought to his rationale for opposing the bill.

The bill will be voted on in the US Senate in the next day or so and then will have a final House vote. Please contact Senators Angus King and Susan Collins and ask them to support the American Rescue Plan.

Signs of Support for Maine Med Nurses!

IATSE 114 member Dan Paseltiner distributing signs supporting Maine Med nurses.

Lawn signs showing support for the nurses organizing a union at Maine Medical Center have been popping up all over Portland and Cumberland county. 

A big thanks to union members and allies who volunteered to deliver hundreds of signs across the region – Evan Kleene (IAFF 740), Dan Paseltiner and Doug Born (IATSE 114), Serina DeWolfe (AFT), Jason Shedlock (LIUNA 327), Ali Mann, Arlo Hennessey and Heather Foran (Southern Maine Workers’ Center), Jenn Nappi (MSNA), Vanessa Sylvester, Grayson Lookner, Barney McLelland (IBEW 2327), Kathy Wilder (USW 9), Josh Johnstone (IAM S6) and special kudos to Vinny O’Malley (ILA 861) for coordinating the distribution. 

Greater Portland residents showing their support for Maine Med nurses


The nurses at MMC are organizing a union with the Maine State Nurses Association, National Nurses United.  The nurses are coming together to have a voice to advocate for their patients and improve patient care. Ballots will be mailed to the nurses on March 29th.

Want to hear directly from Maine Med Nurses about why they are organizing? Check out this inspiring video.

Want to help the nurses who are organizing? Sign the petition to express your support!

Union Members Gather for 2021 Legislative Conference

More than 75 union members, staff and legislators turned out last Friday for our 2021 online Legislative Conference, which was held in lieu of Labor Lobby Day due to the pandemic. At the conference, union members learned how to effectively lobby for the PRO Act and state legislation to strengthen public sector collective bargaining rights, require employers to pay out unused vacation pay when workers leave employment, fix the state unemployment system and require strong labor standards on renewable energy projects.

Pro-labor leaders in attendance included Congressman Jared Golden, Senate President Troy Jackson and House Speaker Ryan Fecteau as well as rank and file union members in the Legislature — Senator Joe Rafferty (MEA) of York County and Reps. Amy Roeder (AFT) of Bangor, Michelle Dunphy (CWA 1400) of Old Town and Scott Cuddy (IBEW 1253) of Winterport.

Coalition Calls on Legislature to Repeal Tax Cuts for the Rich

On Tuesday, the Maine AFL-CIO joined House Speaker Ryan Fecteau and a coalition of more then 20 Maine organizations calling on the Maine Legislature to roll back corporate tax loopholes and tax breaks for the wealthy so Maine can invest in its COVID recovery and build a stronger, fairer economy for everyone.

“The LePage administration's tax cuts for the wealthy have deprived our communities of urgently needed investments in education, public health, public safety, road, bridges and infrastructure and critical services,” said Matt Schlobohm, executive director of the Maine AFL-CIO. “Costs have been shifted to working people.  It’s high time to recognize that trickle down economics is a failed ideology. We need to make the wealthy pay their fair share so we can make the collective investments to build a Maine that works for everyone.”  

The new coalition Mainers for Tax Fairness represents tens of thousands of health care providers, educators, organized labor, policy advocates for poor and working-class families, older Mainers, and more.

Letter Carrier Discusses Need to Fix the USPS with Senator King

Last week, Senator Angus King hosted Portland letter carrier Mark Seitz (NALC 92), President of the Maine State Association of Letter Carriers, on his podcast along with Senator Gary Peters (D-Michigan), Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, to discuss challenges facing the US Postal Service and upcoming legislation and appointments that will fix many of these manufactured problems. 

Seitz said that severe staffing shortages, a 70 percent turnover rate among employees, a massive increase in the volume of parcels and Covid safety regulations, have forced many mail carriers to work 7 days week and up to 13 or 14 hours a day to complete their delivery routes. These issues, along with Postmaster Louis DeJoy’s attempts to reduce services, have lead to mail delays. A recent congressional report found that an average of just 80 percent of mail, and 61 percent of mail over the holidays, was delivered on time in Maine — far below the industry standard of 96 percent

“We’ve had a lot of mail delays, but it’s not for lack of effort. We’ve had a lot of people working long days and a lot of hours to just get the mail delivered,” said Seitz. “It’s a constant battle to try to get mail out the door.”

Senator Peters said that once the Senate confirms two of President Biden’s nominees to the USPS Board of Governors, the board will have enough votes to fire DeJoy. He also expressed support for a bill that would end a ludicrous mandate that requires the USPS to pre-fund retiree health benefits for up to 75 years — a requirement that no other government agency or corporation has to follow.

Building Trades Members Testify in Support of Better Safety Training on Construction Sites

Lewis Overlock of Laborers Local 327 testifies on LD 469 Monday.

On Monday, members of Operating Engineers Local 4, Laborers 327, Plumbers & Pipefitters 716, Sheetmetal Workers 17, Ironworkers 7 and UBC Carpenters Local 349 & 352 turned out in support of a bill (LD 469) that would require contractors on publics works projects to certify that their workers have attended a 10-hour safety program approved by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. In testimonies on the bill, building trades members noted that construction can be very dangerous with 88 fatalities in the industry in Maine from 2015 to 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Right now, we know that there is no assurance that workers on the jobsite have a baseline of safety knowledge,” said Lewis Overlock, Business Agent for LiUNA Local 327. “I can tell you from my members’ and my own experience that there are certainly workers on sites in Maine who don’t have this training.”

Congressman Golden Helps Lead Over 100 Colleagues to Push for Action on the PRO Act

Congressmen Jared Golden and Andy Levin (MI-09) led 110 of their colleagues in a letter to House leadership last week calling for the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Actto be brought directly to the House floor for a vote. The PRO Act, the most comprehensive pro-labor legislation in decades, provides updated protections for workers and unions, gives them more power to negotiate with employers, and imposes more meaningful penalties on employers who violate the law. You can read the letter to leadership here.

“Mainers saw the power of unions this summer, when Local S6 shipbuilders at Bath Iron Works stood together to get a fair deal from their shipyard. Working people are powerful when they join together,” said Golden. “But as we see all over the country in the era of COVID-19 — from nurses in Maine to Amazon workers in Alabama — union-busting tactics are all too common and workers’ rights need to be defended."

MSEA-SEIU Members Rally at Sen. King’s Office for Covid Relief & $15 Minimum Wage

Members of MSEA-SEIU demonstrating at Sen. King's Augusta office Tuesday.

MSEA-SEIU Local 1989 members rallied outside Senator Angus King’s Augusta office on Tuesday to demand that the US Senate pass President Biden’s COVID relief bill to provide desperately needed funding to state and municipal government and to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour. 

“We need real relief — that means raising wages for our families, getting funding to our states and cities to keep essential services running, and creating good union jobs in home care and other services that keep our community and the country’s economy going,” the union said in a statement