Protecting the Postal Service, Right to Strike & More!

IN THIS EDITION:

  • House Votes to Protect the US Postal Service
  • Committee Passes Public Sector Right to Strike Bill
  • KVCAP Drivers Need Your Help!
  • “All Work And No Play” Exhibits Photos of Child Laborers in Maine
  • Wishing a Happy Retirement to John Martell (IAFF) & Dick Deering (IBEW)!

House Votes to Protect the US Postal Service

Postal workers at a rally to save the Postal Service in Bangor in 2011.

Last week, the US House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to pass a bipartisan bill that would strengthen the US Postal Service. For over a decade, the USPS has struggled financially in large part due to a 2006 law that requires the agency to cover all retiree benefit obligations for the next 75 years! As The Week points out, this is an extremely unusual mandate as all other government agencies with pension obligations and two-thirds of private sector businesses that have pensions fund them on a pay-as-you-go basis. As a result, the popular agency has been forced to make staffing cuts and rely on part time workers.

“It's sort of like being required to pay the full cost of your house with cash up front rather than making mortgage payments for the next few decades,” writes business journalist Jeff Spross.  

This is a big win not only for postal workers who have been fighting to repeal this destructive law for years, but also for customers. The Senate is expected to take up a similar bill.

Committee Passes Public Sector Right to Strike Bill

Maine AFL-CIO President Cynthia Phinney speaking in favor of right to strike last year.




The Legislature’s Labor and Housing Committee voted on party lines this week to recommend passage of a bill to grant public sector workers the right to strike. Under current law, teachers and other public employees in Maine can actually be jailed for exercising this fundamental human right. LD 900 will correct this power imbalance by giving public sector workers the right to withhold their labor, but with exceptions for workers in critical public safety roles like police, corrections officers and firefighters. The bill faces further votes in the House and Senate.

“Whether it’s teaching our children or providing other important public services, workers in the public sector deserve the right to join together and take collective action to improve their working conditions and the services they provide to our communities when all other options have failed," said Cynthia Phinney, President of the Maine AFL-CIO. "The right to strike should be a basic right for working people in a free society."

KVCAP Drivers Need Your Help!

KVCAP Drivers in Augusta, members of IAM S89, are still fighting for a fair contract. This week a group of drivers met with State Legislators to bring them up to speed on KVCAP’s delays on settling a fair contract, as well as educate them about state transportation funding legislation that would be helpful to clients, workers and the organization. The drivers will continue to fight for a fair contract with better wages, as they organize to lobby for increased state funding for public transporationthat will support KVCAP’s transportation work. 

ACTION NEEDED: You can show that you stand with the drivers in their struggle for a fair contract by signing and sharing this petition, and we will deliver the signatures to KVCAP management.

“All Work And No Play” Exhibits Photos of Child Laborers in Maine

Photo of a child laborer in Maine displayed at Museum L-A.

Museum L-A in Lewiston has launched new exhibit featuring the images of early 20th century child laborers in Maine. As the Lewiston Sun Journal reports, an estimated 18 percent of all American workers were under the age of 16 in 1900. These children would work long hours in dangerous factory conditions for very little money with children under 10 making little more than a dollar a day in today’s money until unions and other groups pushed to end this appalling practice. More from the LSJ:

“There are plenty of local news clips, some of which will be on display in the exhibit, revealing the horrors of children hurt or killed in factory accidents. A 12-year-old boy’s head was crushed at the Androscoggin Mill. A 14-year-old girl’s leg was mangled by an elevator at the Bates Mill. Arms chewed to pieces, limbs caught in pulleys.”

The exhibit titled “All Work and No Play” will be on display in the Museum gallery through mid-June.

Wishing a Happy Retirement to John Martell & Dick Deering!

PFFM President John Martel & IBEW 2nd District Labor Rep Dick Deering.

Earlier this month, Professional Firefighters of Maine (PFFM) President John Martell and IBEW 2nd District Labor Rep and former IBEW 567 Business Manager Dick Deering retired from their posts after serving their members for many years.

John started his career as a firefighter paramedic at the Saco Fire Department in 1991 and joined Portland in 1993. He first became active in PFFM back in the late 2000s leading efforts to stop tax cap proposals that would have starved local departments of funding. Most recently, John has been fierce advocate for firefighters in Augusta pushing legislation to protect injured workers as well as strengthen collective bargaining rights and retirement security for first responders.

Dick Deering became a member of IBEW 567 as an apprentice electrician in 1975. Very soon after he was appointed to the Executive Board and later served as a steward before he was elected local president in 1990. In recent years, Dick worked as a labor rep for IBEW's 2nd District.  Dick says his proudest achievements were representing the interests of his members at the bargaining table while also maintaining good relationships with employers. 

We wish you both a well-deserved retirement, brothers!