Showing up for Union Brothers & Sisters

IN THIS EDITION:

  • Golden & Pingree Successfully Push for Vote on Pro-Union Bill
  • Local S6 Questions BIW Tax Break As Subcontracting Moves Forward
  • Union Members Show Up to Support Scarborough Teachers
  • New Law Will Boost Wages for Construction Jobs
  • Focus Groups on New Unemployment System in Bangor & Portland

Golden & Pingree Successfully Push for Vote on Pro-Union Bill

Rep. Jared Golden has successfully led a group of 76 members of Congress, including Rep. Chellie Pingree, in urging House Democratic leadership to bring an important pro-union bill to the House floor. 

The Protecting the Right to Organize Act(PRO Act) would strengthen workers' right to organize and bargain for better wages and  working conditions by imposing penalties for employers that illegally fire or retaliate against workers who are trying to form a union, requiring employers to bargain in good faith, repealing the prohibition on secondary boycotts and prohibiting employers from permanently replacing strikers. 

Despite 218 bipartisan cosponsors in the House and record high support for unions among the public, the PRO Act had not been scheduled for a House vote since it passed out of committee more than three months ago. After the letter was publicized, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced on Twitter that he would bring the bill to the House floor for a vote some time before February 17th. Thank you Rep. Golden for your persistence and dedication to supporting workers' rights!

Local S6 Questions BIW Tax Break As Subcontracting Continues

Machinists Local S6 rally at the shipyard in 2015.

Last week, there were a number of press articles about heightened scrutiny of the state tax breaks Bath Iron Works is getting given that the company is planning to subcontract work to lower paid, non-union, out of state workers.  Senate President Troy Jackson and House Speaker Sara Gideon wrote a letter to BIW raising concerns about subcontracting, lower starting wages and whether BIW was meeting its end of the bargain.  We appreciate these legislators standing up for workers, opposing subcontracting of work and providing scrutiny of public tax breaks. Tim Suitter, chair of the IAM Local S6 Legislative Committee, said it best:

“We should not be giving tax breaks to companies that are subcontracting work and moving taxpayer dollars out of state. We appreciate that legislators are doing their due diligence to protect Maine taxpayers, support good paying, quality jobs and scrutinize the subcontracting out of local jobs. This is not a Democratic or Republican issue. This is about Maine jobs and holding companies that receive taxpayer dollars accountable.”

Union Members Show Up to Support Scarborough Teachers

Scarborough teachers rally for a fair contract. Photo by Harlan Baker

Earlier this month, members of the Southern Maine Labor Council, AFL-CIO showed up at a Scarborough school board meeting to support teachers fighting for a fair contract. After months of working without a contract, teachers attended the meeting en masse, sang songs and called on the Board to respect their service and pay them fairly. As Scarborough Education Association President Krystal Ash-Cuthbert told reporters, Scarborough teachers are paid much lower than teachers in the surrounding districts, despite the fact that they work an average of 20 to 30 hours outside of their regular work week. 

"It's about time we get them what they need,” Scarborough parent Bobby Burr, who is a member of IUOE Local 4, told reporters. And when asked if his kids will attend school if there's a strike, his response was, "Hell no. We don't cross picket lines. We are a union family." That’s what solidarity is all about!

New Law Will Boost Wages for Construction Jobs

LD 1386, a bill that will ensure workers get paid fairly on publicly-funded construction projects has become law without the governor's signature. The new law will require that accurate data is collected in order to determine prevailing wages and benefits paid in the construction industry. Prevailing wage laws help ensure that workers get fair pay and that publicly funded construction projects do not drive down wages and benefits.

“Make no mistake, this bill, now law, will raise prevailing wages in Maine,” said Jason Shedlock, executive director of the Maine State Building and Construction Trades Council. “And coupled with the law we just passed that redefined 'public works' to include any public project that receives $50,000 or more in state funds (including schools, other municipal projects), it will also mean that exponentially more projects now qualify as state prevailing wage jobs. This should really move the needle to allow for our contractors to compete more often on a more level playing field when it comes to wages.”

Focus Groups on New Unemployment System in Brewer & Portland 

Have you applied for unemployment benefits in Maine since 2017? If the answer is yes, come join a  focus group in Portland on Wed. January 22, 6pm and Brewer on Thursday January 23, 6pm to share your experiences with the unemployment system. We are supporting a larger effort to make the Unemployment system more user friendly and effective for laid off workers. We'd love to hear from you. Focus group participants will receive a $100 gift card and a free dinner. If you are interested in joining please fill the application out here.