Museum Workers Fight Back

IN THIS EDITION

  • PMA Workers Demand Museum Cease Attacks on Workers' Rights
  • American Rescue Plan Saves Pensions for Maine Paper Workers
  • Maine Legislature Passes Budget to Fund Essential Services
  • Public Hearing for Renewable Energy Labor Standards Bill (LD 1231) – Friday, April 9
  • Register for “Workers Rising Everywhere” Online Organizing Course 
  • Mental Health Workers Testify in Support of Retirement Security Bill
  • Last Chance to Sign Up for New Member Orientation Train the Trainers!

PMA Workers & Allies Demand Museum Cease Attacks on Workers’ Rights

Former Portland Museum of Art workers Suzanne Murphy & Michaela Flint & current PMA employee Leticia Plate pass out leaflets to patrons calling on PMA to halt its union busting.

 

Museum workers and fellow union members with the Southern Maine Labor have been handing out leaflets to patrons calling out management for their union busting tactics.

After months of organizing, PMA workers voted in December to form a union with Local 2110 of the United Auto Workers. The museum workers asked PMA leadership to respect their right to organize without delay or interference, but instead of doing so, the museum has tried to defeat the union by challenging the right of 22 gallery ambassadors to join the union. Results of the union election have not been released because the ballots have been impounded due to the PMA’s obstructionist legal challenge. Local 2110 has also filed charges against the museum for laying off gallery ambassadors without providing notice to or negotiating with the union.

The Southern Maine Labor Council is looking for a few volunteers to continue leafletting PMA. If you're interested please email [email protected](above right: IBEW member Barney McClelland and AFT member Harlan Baker leaflet outside PMA last week)

American Rescue Plan Saves Hundreds of Pensions for Huhtamaki & Lincoln Pulp & Tissue Workers

USW 449 workers rallying for a fair contract in 2014.


The American Rescue Plan, recently signed by President Joe Biden, has rescued pensions for hundreds of Huhtamaki and former Lincoln Pulp and Paper employees and retirees, according to the United Steelworkers. Included in the package is the Butch Lewis Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act, which will protect the pensions of 120,000 active USW members and retirees by ensuring that they are fully funded for at least 30 years in addition to allowing healthy plans to better account for the pandemic and help to ensure their solvency for the future. 

Huhtamaki and Lincoln Pulp and Paper workers and retirees worked and fought hard for their multi-employer pension through the PACE Industry Union-Management Pension Fund, but the 2008 recession put it on the verge insolvency and the Covid pandemic put it further at risk. The pension’s "critical status" designation prevented the union from bargaining over the pension since 2008. Huhtamaki previously wanted to replace the multi-employer pension plan, which may have allowed workers to negotiate a better retirement plan, but unfortunately the price for the company to withdraw would have cost tens of millions of dollars.

“The American Rescue Plan is a very big deal for Hutamaki workers for sure,” said Mike Higgins, a former Huhtamaki worker and labor representative for United Steelworkers in Maine. “All of these pensions were in jeopardy of being lost, but now nearly 500 of our active members as well as retirees like my father will benefit from this law. It will be a great relief for workers to know that their pensions are safe and that they can have that security when they retire.”

Maine Legislature Approves Budget to Fund Essential Services 

Members of MSEA-SEIU 1989 call on lawmakers to pass a budget at the Augusta Civic Center Tuesday.


The Maine Legislature has passed a new $8.3 billion two-year budget that funds public education, revenue sharing for towns and cities, property tax relief and other basic state services. The baseline budget, which passed by a party-line majority vote, maintains existing programs, but does not add any new spending. Passage of the budget on a majority vote, rather than the usual 2/3rds vote, will allow lawmakers to avoid a state shut down and take up other proposals later this spring when revised revenue projections and and new federal relief arrives from the American Recovery Act.

“For the first time in a decade, thousands of public employees in our great state don't have to go to sleep at night worrying about whether they’ll be locked out of their jobs on July 1," said Dean Staffieri, President of the MSEA-SEIU 1989. "We thank the state legislators who showed real leadership today by passing a state budget and preventing a state government shutdown like the one Maine endured in 2017."

Public Hearing for Renewable Energy Labor Standards Bill (LD 1231) – Friday, April 9

IBEW 567 & 490 members installing a solar project in Sanford.

A number of unions are supporting LD 1231, a bill to put labor standards on renewable energy projects in Maine. As Maine responds to climate change, we’ve been working hard to make sure jobs in the renewable energy sector are high road, union jobs. LD 1231, sponsored by Rep. Scott Cuddy (D-Winterport), would require prevailing wage rates on bigger renewable energy projects, utilization of registered apprenticeship programs, encouraging Project Labor Agreements and promoting hiring from frontline, directly impacted communities. 

We have the opportunity to address climate change and create thousands of good union jobs, but we need your help to do it. The public hearing on this bill is Friday April 9, 10am before the Labor & Housing Committee. Let us know if you want to testify or be involved – [email protected]

Register Now for Online Organizing for Power Class —  5/18 - 6/24

Have you ever wondered how a union gets to 90 percent participation (a super majority!) in their actions? Do you want to build and strengthen your own organizing skills – from one-on-one conversations to coming together to pull off a major action? The Maine AFL-CIO is currently accepting applications to participate together in the next Organizing for Power online course, called “Workers Rising Everywhere.”

This will be an international class with workers and organizers from around the world. You will hear and learn from experienced organizers of successful mass participation campaigns. The class will include opportunities for you to interact with each other on the Maine Team as well as with the global participants – and you will be part of a team of union members, organizers and workers from Maine learning together and supporting each other to put the new skills to work.

Classes and activities take place from May 18 - June 24 with the option to participate during the day or evening. Application deadline is April 28. Head here for more information.

Mental Health Workers Tell Harrowing Stories in Testimony Supporting Retirement Security Bill

Mental health worker Larry McIver (AFSCME Council 93) testifies on LD 1041 in the Labor & Housing Committee Monday.


On Monday, mental health workers testified in support of LD 1041, sponsored by Senate President Troy Jackson (D-Allagash), which would allow certain mental health workers to retire after 25 years of service under a special state retirement plan. Testifying in support of the bill, members of MSEA-SEIU 1989 and AFSCME Council 93 described in vivid detail the stress and danger they experience working with patients with severe mental illnesses.

Larry McIver, a mental health crisis team worker and member of AFSCME Council 93, described what it's like to walk into people’s homes keeping an eye out for sharp objects or blunt instruments that could be used against him if a resident attacks him. Unlike police, he said that he is prohibited from using handcuffs or stun guns. He also can’t use chemical or mechanical restraints like hospital personnel can. 

“I work 12 and 16 hour shifts. I’ve done restraints on patients for a couple of shifts for almost eight hours straight. High school wrestlers do three five-minute rounds, boxers do three minute rounds, UFW fighters do five-minute rounds. I did six hours, on my knees, on my hips, with two other people in restraints to stop someone from beating their head on the floor,” said McIver. “It’s a limited amount of time that you can do that for. I don’t want to die because the state thinks that a 55-year old should take on a 19-year old in a wrestling match on the side of the road.”

Last Chance to Sign Up for New Member Orientation Train the Trainers!

This is your last chance to sign up for one of our one-day trainings for union members involved in your union’s new member orientations or who engage with new members to be held on Friday, April 9 and Saturday, April 10. Register here for the Friday, April 9th training OR register here for the Saturday, April 10th training. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.