Our Pro-Labor Agenda & More

IN THIS EDITION:

  • Portland’s New Pro-Union Construction Bill Taking Effect
  • Diverse Group of Union Members Attend Race & Labor Forum
  • Our Pro-Labor Agenda for the Upcoming Legislative Session
  • Take Our Unemployment Survey
  • Union made Holiday Gifts

Portland’s New Pro-Union Construction Bill Taking Effect

The City of Portland has begun implementing a new voter-approved ordinance that will create good-paying union jobs in the city. The  “Green New Deal for Portland,” which voters passed in November, will require that contractors on publicly funded construction projects over $50,000 use skilled labor and pay living wages with benefits. The city began enforcing the new prevailing wage law and the requirement that craft workers on these projects go through OSHA 10 safety training. On January 1, publicly funded projects in Portland will need to use 10 percent registered apprentices."The referendum result in Portland was a clear signal that even in the face of big business and even bigger money, when working families' issues are taken directly to the voters, our values

are more powerful than any special interest," said Jason J. Shedlock, Regional Organizer with the New England Region of the Laborers' International Union. "Safety on the jobsite, fair wages and real career training are fundamental to what unions fight for, and they'll continue to be our top priorities as we help Portland — and Maine -- grow responsibly."  

The "responsible contracting" ordinance would apply to the construction of buildings, roads, highways, bridges, streets, alleys, sewers, ditches, sewage disposal plants, waterworks, airports, schools and other projects. The proposal would also require new developments to be environmentally sustainable and require developers to increase the number of affordable units in new housing developments. 

Diverse Group of Union Members Attend Race & Labor Forum

A diverse group of fifty-five union members from numerous local unions and allies participated in an all-day Race & Labor forum this past Sunday. April Sims, Cherika Carter, and Kasi Marita Perreira of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, facilitated informative discussions about how to address racism in the workplace and also explained the history of racial oppression in the US and how wealthy elites have used racism to pit the working class against each other.
"It was a very valuable discussion about how racism affects workers of color,” said Garrett Stewart, who is a member of IAM Local S6 and the Maine chapter of the A. Philip Randolph Institute. “The most important lessons were about what to do and what not to do when you experience or witness a racial incident on the job. Unfortunately, a lot of workers of color don’t know what to do or who to talk to when this happens. I think the next step is for us to create a space where workers can come to and develop the skills they need to address racism in their workplaces.”
In January, the Maine AFL-CIO reading group is reading the booklet “Race to Labor” by Bill Fletcher Jr., who will also be facilitating the discussion. Go to our Race & Labor pagefor more details. This will be a special 90-minute discussion.

Our Pro-Labor Agenda for the Upcoming State Legislative Session

The Maine AFL-CIO and affiliated unions are currently preparing our list of priority labor bills for when the Maine Legislature returns in January. This year public hearings will be online due to the pandemic, but there will still be plenty of opportunities to make your voice heard on legislation impacting workers. At the top our agenda will be the state budget. Unfortunately, the federal stimulus deal does not include federal aid for state and local governments, so it appears that we may be facing the choice of making deep cuts to education, health care, pensions, and public services or having the wealthy pay a little more in taxes to prevent layoffs and cuts to vital services.

We are also working on a comprehensive bill to fix and strengthen Maine's unemployment system so that it ensures workers are able to secure enough benefits in a timely fashion to help them transition to a new job after being laid off. We will also be supporting a measure to curb efforts to privatize public services to corporations that cut corners, fleece tax payers and don’t respect workers’ rights.

In addition, we will also be working to ensure energy and climate policies create good paying union jobs with benefits through apprenticeship programs, project labor agreements and prevailing wage laws. We will be supporting a bill to guarantee that workers have their earned vacation time paid out at the cessation of employment as well as a measure to prevent employers from retaliating against workers who use their earned time off. There are also be bills to strengthen collective bargaining rights for public sector workers. Finally, we will be backing proposals that create legal protections for workers who suffer wage theft or harassment at work; strengthen disability retirement for public employees and support workers in the Building Trades.

Have you applied for Unemployment? Take Our Survey

Please fill out this survey to provide us with the information we need to fix the unemployment system and ensure all working Mainers get the support they need when they lose their jobs through no fault of their own. Click here to fill out our survey today!

Have a Very Union Holiday & Merry Christmas!