Maine Workers Are Organizing!

IN THIS EDITION:

  • USW 900 Worker Dies from Coronavirus Amid Outbreak at Rumford Mill
  • Over 80 Maine Union Members Signed Up for Strike School!
  • Waterville KVCAP Drivers Headed to a Union Election
  • Portland Museum of Art Workers Organizing Union
  • Want to Volunteer as a Paid Pollworker on Election Day? 

USW 900 Worker Dies of Covid Amid Outbreak at Rumford Mill

A memorial in Rumford for workers who have died on the job.


With great sadness we must report that a USW 900 member recently passed away from the coronavirus. The tragic news comes as an outbreak of the diseasehas so far infected more than 20 workers at the ND Paper mill in Rumford. USW 900 President Gary Hemingway said he was shocked to learn of the death as the man was very active and healthy. 

“It is so important that workers understand how deadly this virus can be and that they take precautions like wearing masks in the workplace,” said Hemingway.

He said workers at the mill were tested on Monday and Tuesday last week and they will begin retesting later this week. In the meantime, masks are mandatory and workers’ temperatures are checked regularly. Hemingway said it’s getting more difficult to run the mill because there are nearly 80 workers out, largely due to health reasons. 

Over 80 Maine Union Members Signed Up for Strike School!

Union organizer and author Jane McAlevey


Over 80 Maine union members have enrolled in union organizer and strategist Jane McAlevey’s six part online “Organizing for Power Strike School” course. The “Maine Team” includes members of 22 different unions - postal workers (APWU), letter carriers (NALC 92 and 774), call center employees (CWA 1400), federal employees (AFGE 948), municipal and state employees (MSEA-SEIU 1989 and AFSCME 1373, Council 93, and 1458), fire fighters (IAFF 3106 and 740), shipbuilders (IAM Local S6),  paralegals (IAM S-89), electrical and telecom workers (IBEW 2327, 567, 1253, and 1837, construction workers with Ironworkers (Local 7), laborers (LiUNA 327) and Operating Engineers (Local 4), nurses (MSNA/NNU) and teachers (MEA and AFT).

Union members will learn about organizing new members into unions and organizing existing union members to build a stronger union, as well as organizing to build power around an issue, a candidate and more. The courses, which run from September 24 to October 13, are an excellent opportunity to learn strategies on how to build a stronger labor movement in Maine. 

Waterville KVCAP Drivers Headed to a Union Election

Following on the success of drivers in Augusta, drivers at Kennebec Valley Community Action Project (KVCAP) in Waterville are organizing a union. They've signed union authorization cards and will soon vote to formalize their union with Machinists Union Local S-89. The ballots will be sent out on Tuesday and the drivers have until Oct. 6, to vote. Earlier this year, Augusta KVCAP drivers organized and ratified their first contract, which included pay increases, improved leave of absence and winter weather day policies, signing bonuses, a grievance procedure, the establishment of a new safety committee and other important victories. The Waterville drivers are looking to win similar improvements through organizing. 

Portland Museum of Art Workers Organizing a Union

Workers at the Portland Museum of Art announced this week that they are organizing a union with the United Autoworkers (UAW). This is an exciting development for a workplace where an employee spoke out publicly about low wages, workplace harassment and a “toxic corporate culture.”

“We are the workers of the Portland Museum of Art. We love the arts, this museum, and our communities around Portland,” the workers Tweeted. “We are organizing for a seat at the table to ensure that our voices are collectively heard. Together we can build a stronger, democratic, and sustainable PMA.”

The organizing drive is part of national movement by art workers to unionize for better wages and a voice on the job. Last year, art workers unionized at the New Museum, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, the Frye Art Museum in Seattle and Los Angeles’s Museum of Contemporary Art. We wish the Portland art workers the best of luck and stand at the ready to provide our support for their organizing efforts. 

Want to Volunteer as a Paid Pollworker on Election Day?

We are quickly approaching the most consequential election of our lifetime. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to harm communities across the country, there has been a sharp decrease in the number of people who are able to work at the polls in their town on Election Day. This threatens the number of polling places that can remain open and could easily create long lines.

We are recruiting members to work the polls in their town on election day. We need Republicans and Democrats to do this. If you would like to help staff your local polling place please fill out this form. As America’s labor movement holds our country together during a pandemic, we also must support & safeguard our election process! If you have questions or want more info, contact Josh Johnstone, Maine AFL-CIO Pollworker Recruitment coordinator, [email protected].