Skip to main content

Municipal Workers in Fairfield, Greene & Easton Unionize with AFSCME

Andy O’Brien
Social share icons

AFSCME Council 93 has recently organized more than a hundred new union members from Greene and Fairfield all the way up to Aroostook County. In the past few months, MSAD 49 school employees in Fairfield, Bangor Airport security officers, public works employees in Greene and school staff in Easton have all joined AFSCME.

A 2019 municipal majority sign up union election law is speeding up the process and preventing the kind of union busting we’ve seen in other union campaigns in the past few years. The law requires municipal employers to recognize a union if a majority of workers in the bargaining unit sign union authorization cards.

“The municipal card check law is fantastic for organizing,” said AFSCME 93 organizer John Nuttall. “With card check it’s so much easier to organize because all you have to do is submit the cards to the Maine Labor Relations Board rather than going through a long-drawn out process.”

Governor Janet Mills recently signed a bill, LD 2032, An Act to Improve Maine's Labor Laws by Changing the Laws Governing Elections of Collective Bargaining Agents for Certain Public Employees, that will expand card check to include state workers, judicial employees and university, academy and community college employees.

Nuttall says he has helped organize 163 workers in the past year and half - a number that also includes workers at the Town of Orono, Knox County Regional Airport and Somerset County dispatch. The Somerset County dispatchers were able to substantially increase their pay with $7 wage increases over the three-year contact.

MSAD 49 Workers Choose AFSCME

In Fairfield, AFSCME is preparing to go to the bargaining table for its first contract representing 73 workers. The unit includes bus drivers, cafeteria staff, secretaries and custodial workers in MSAD 49, which comprises the towns of Fairfield, Albion, Benton and Clinton. The major issues for workers are pay, benefits and the need for better ways to resolve disputes with management. They were inspired to unionize after seeing how other unionized employees in the area were benefiting from union contracts. Nuttall said MSAD 49 staff had an “association” but it wasn’t recognized as the school’s official bargaining agent by the Maine Labor Relations Board.

“They kind of had the idea of what they could accomplish with a union, but they didn’t have anything in their association for language that would give them any strength,” said Nuttall. “The contract wasn’t recognized and it was voluntary so the school board had the ability to change anything in the document whenever they wanted.”

The staff was worried about whether management would keep its word on a range of items, like providing all of their earned sick time when they retired.

The workers considered three different unions, but AFSCME was the only one affiliated with the Maine AFL-CIO. Nuttall told the workers they were free to choose whoever they wanted as long as they unionized, but that it was important to choose an AFL-CIO-affiliated union because they would have the backing of our union federation and the full support of the labor movement. In the end, the workers overwhelmingly chose to go with AFSCME.

Town of Greene Workers Unionize, Lead Organizer Fired


Six public works employees at the town of Greene in Androscoggin County have also organized a new union recently with AFSCME. Unfortunately, the first thing the town administration did after they successfully organized was fire one of the lead organizers for simply following the direction of the foreman on a job. Nuttall said AFSCME’s legal department is currently putting the case together and intends to file a prohibitive practice complaint against the town for the unjust firing.

I guess they were really upset that their workers organized, but they wanted to organize because of safety concerns,” said Nuttall.

Workers were complaining that they were assigned to do dangerous tasks that they didn’t have the proper training to perform. Currently, the union is preparing a contract proposal to start bargaining.

Town of Easton Workers Organize Themselves

In the Town of Easton, school custodians, bus drivers and secretaries have ratified a first contract and it will go before the school board for approval this week. One of the major issues the workers sought to tackle was the problem of favoritism and a byzantine wage structure. Because the town is so far away from the central Maine, Nuttall relied on one of the workers to organize the whole unit.

“We brought her through an online steward training and even though she was not a member at the time we had her do the organizing,” said Nuttall. “The next thing I knew she had every last worker there join the union.”

Bangor Airport Security Officers Unionize

Twelve security officers at Bangor Airport are in the process of negotiating a new contract after winning a their union - through majority sign up - with AFSCME. The workers are seeking to improve their wages and workplace safety. The security officers join other recently organized AFSCME units at the airport including operations staff and customer service representatives.

“I don’t know who else we need to organize in Bangor,” said Nuttall.

Meanwhile, Nuttall said he is frequently receiving calls from other workers seeking to form unions. If you know anyone who would like to form a union please fill out this formand we will work to connect you to an organizer!