Stepping up to run, victory in Bangor & more!

IN THIS EDITION:

  • Union Members Attend Maine AFL-CIO Worker Candidate Training
  • Disabled Public Employees Calls for Reforms to State Disability System
  • IBEW 1837 Member Running in Special House Election
  • ATU Drivers & Community Organize to Keep Bus Hub
  • Race & Labor Forum Registration Now Open!

Union Members Attend Two-Day Worker Candidate Training 

Union members and allies at this year's Worker Candidate Training.


At the Maine AFL-CIO we are strong believers in training, recruiting and supporting union members and working class allies to run for elected office. We know that union members make great candidates and will often carry labor's vision into elected office. As wages stagnate and the cost of housing, health care and prescription drugs rise, too often our elected officials are more concerned with doling out massive tax breaks to the ultra wealthy than addressing the concerns of ordinary people. 

That’s why it’s so critical that we elect people to serve in government who can represent the interests of working people. This past weekend, we hosted a great group of union members and allies who are running for office, interested in running or want to support pro-labor candidates at our 6th Worker Candidate Training. We’re excited that more union folks are running for elected office. If you are interested in running for office or have ideas of members of your local who should run contact Adam, [email protected].

Disabled Public Employees Make Impassioned Pleas to Fix State Disability System

Firefighter/EMT Brad Jerome, IAFF 3107, testifies in Augusta on Wednesday.


Teachers, firefighters and state employees with serious work-limiting disabilities delivered heart wrenching testimonies Wednesday in favor of a bill that would repair the state’s broken disability retirement system for public-sector workers. 

Firefighter/EMT Brad Jerome, a 37-year veteran of the Biddeford Fire Department and IAFF 3107 member, described numerous traumatic experiences from his career that continue to haunt him, from being helpless to save a baby girl from a burning building to seeing the lifeless body of his nephew who had been shot and killed. He later learned that the same assailant also killed his other nephew. 

After suffering from crippling anxiety, constant nightmares and memory problems that made it impossible to do his job, he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in 2017. However, the MainePERS Medical Board ignored the testimonies of mental health experts and rejected his claim.

“After 37 years of service where I put my life on the line helping others, when I needed help, and when I had to swallow my pride and apply for disability benefits, the system that I have been paying into turned its back on me,” said Jerome. “This has been humiliating and financially devastating for me and my family."

The bill, LD 1978, would change the disability approval process to be more in-line with the Social Security System, providing a fairer process for disabled workers. The Labor and Housing Committee will take up the bill again in the coming weeks. 

IBEW 1837 Member Running in Special House Election

Kevin O’Connell, a longtime member of IBEW Local 1837, first class lineworker at Emera Maine and former Brewer mayor, has been nominated as the Democratic candidate for the House District 128 special election on March 3. The seat is currently vacant as a result of the passing of the late Rep. Archie Verow.

“I love Brewer, I love our city of great people, and I am committed to representing us in Augusta,” said O’Connell. 

O’Connell, 59, who was born and raised in Brewer, served two years as Brewer’s mayor and nine years on the city council. O’Connell served 24 years in the military, six years as a First Sergeant, with his final deployment being in Baghdad. He’s worked at Bangor Hydro and Emera Maine since March 6, 1989.

Bangor City Council Votes to Keep Bus Hub

Photo courtesy of Food & Medicine.


After eight years of debate, on Monday night the Bangor City Council voted 5-4 to keep the downtown bus hub at Pickering Square. This is a big win for bus drivers with the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 714, the Eastern Maine Labor Council & Food AND Medicine, and members of the community who organized and fought hard to keep the hub where it is. The city’s bus system recently received a $1.29 million federal grant to construct a new transit center in downtown Bangor and the council had considered moving the downtown bus hub from Pickering Square as part of plan. 

However, as ATU 714 member Dave Lister explained recently, the current hub is the most accessible and convenient spot for low-income and elderly residents to get downtown. Congratulations brothers and sisters for your hard work and dedication to helping some of Bangor’s most vulnerable residents!

Race & Labor Forum Registration Now Open!

Memphis sanitation workers on strike in 1968.


At a time when far-right populism is dividing the working class along racial and ethnic lines and making it more difficult to organize people in the workplace, it is critical that the labor movement develop strategies to combat the divide and conquer strategy of labor’s foes. That’s why we have organized an all-day workshop focused on racial justice and building a stronger, more inclusive labor movement. 

Please join us for a daylong program of learning, sharing and discussion of racial justice and the labor movement for union leaders and members on Sunday March 22nd from 9am to 5pm at the Irish Heritage Center in Portland. This program was developed by the Washington State Labor Education and Research Center with nationally acclaimed labor educator and organizer, Bill Fletcher, Jr., and has been presented to hundreds of union leaders and rank-and-file members across the country. Our goal is to have attendance be half union leaders and half rank and file, and we’d also like 1/3 of the attendees to be members of color. 

Please sign up for our Race & Labor Workshop here!