Stop the Attack on Union Apprenticeships!

IN THIS EDITION:

  • Stop the Attack on Union Apprenticeships!
  • Maine Lobstering Union (IAM 207) Organizes Unity Rally in Stonington
  • Union Members Show Up to Support Nurses in Contract Rally
  • Workers Turn Out for Race & Economics Presentation
  • Judicial Branch Employees (MSEA SEIU 1989) Win Pay Raises in New Contract
  • It’s Medicare’s 54th Birthday, Let’s Expand It to Everyone!

Stop the Attack on Union Apprenticeships!

Building Trades unions’ world-class registered apprenticeship programs train Maine and U.S. workers to become highly-skilled, well paid construction workers through a debt-free, technologically-advanced education. These earn-as-you-learn programs pay family-sustaining wages, provide health care coverage and retirement benefits and emphasize workplace safety. These programs and our future is at risk. A new proposal by the Trump Administration’s U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) could drive down training and labor standards in construction registered apprenticeship programs and set off a race to the bottom throughout the industry. 

In June, the Trump Administration proposed regulations to implement Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAPs). Unlike the Registered Apprenticeship model, the IRAPs puts the fox in charge of the henhouse. The new IRAP system will give private organizations, such as employers and trade associations, free rein to create new watered-down standards and certify subpar apprenticeship programs.

The proposed IRAPs differ significantly from Registered Apprenticeship Programs. Construction registered programs help recruit, train and retain workers through progressive wage increases; apprentice-to-journeyworker ratios that promote safety; quality assurance assessments by the government; uniform standards; mandatory safety training; instructor eligibility requirements; and transparency requirements. The proposed IRAP regulations abandon the important protections of the registered model and give employers license to implement whatever low-road standards they see fit.

Please let the Department of Labor know that you OPPOSE this wreckless policy by leaving a comment here: www.saveconstructionapprenticeships.org

Maine Lobstering Union Organizes Unity Rally in Stonington

Lobsterman's rally in Stonington. Photo courtesy of WCSH.


A recent federal proposal to require lobstermen to cut the amount of rope they use in half stirred Captain Julie Eaton of the Maine Lobstering Union (IAM Local 207) into action. On Sunday, Eaton helped organize a rally of hundreds of lobstermen to protest the costly, burdensome regulation in Stonington. While supporters of the measure say it’s necessary to protect endangered right whales from potentially deadly entanglements, opponents point out that whale deaths are not even occurring in Maine waters and more studies are needed to determine whether the rule is necessary.

“We have a voice and we need to use it now,” Eaton told Island Advantages. “There is big power when we come together and this is a chance for our politicians to hear our voice. Fishermen are not against regulation. We have spent a lot of money to conform to regulations in the past, we just want to be sure that [anything proposed] will be effective.”

Union Members Show Up to Support Nurses in Contract Rally

Nurses and technicians rallied last week in Machias for a fair contract at Down East Community Hospital. The Maine State Nurses Association/NNU members were joined by members of MSEA-SEIU 1989, APWU 458, AFSCME 2968, and Millwrights 1121. This has been a very tough contract negotiation and we support the nurses calls for the hospital administration to give their employees a fair contract so that the hospital can recruit and retain quality health care workers.

Workers Turn Out for Race & Economics Workshop

About two dozen union members and friends turned out on Sunday to participate and offer feedback on a new Race and Economics Common Sense Economics workshop developed by the national AFL-CIO. A lively board game gave participants an opportunity to learn some facts and share personal experiences. Small groups also discussed how various factors have contributed to the racial wealth gap and  examined potential solutions.

The event was the first big activity of the fledgling Maine chapter of the A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI) and was co-sponsored by the Southern and Western Maine Labor Councils. Garrett Stewart, of Machinists S6 & APRI, raved about the event, “The program was awesome! Time flew by! They kept us all involved. We got up, moved around and we learned about or remembered so many things. I was impressed with (Kate & Jocelyn). They were so informed and they kept us engaged.”

Judicial Branch Employees Win Pay Raises in New Contract

Judicial Branch employees with MSEA-SEIU 1989 have ratified a new contract that includes better pay and improved benefits. Under the new contract judicial branch employees will receive $400 lump sums in August and next July as well as 3 percent cost- of-living increases in September and next July. The workers will also receive longevity pay raises and an increase of their family medical leave from 12 weeks to 16 weeks.

It's Medicare's Birthday! Let's Expand it to Everyone!

Next Tuesday Medicare will turn 54 years old and it’s still going strong, providing health care coverage to nearly 60 million people. While the program needs to be strengthened and improved, Medicare has been a life saver for 52 million seniors and 8 million younger individuals with disabilities. Prior to the passage of Medicare, only 60 percent of people over 65 had health insurance and they were forced to pay over three times more for it than younger people.

Architects of Medicare didn’t just intend for the program to only cover the elderly. As Max Fine, the last surviving member of President Kennedy’s Medicare task force, explained in 2017, they wanted the program to eventually cover everybody. A Medicare for All plan, he said, “is the only real answer” to our health care crisis. So let’s finish the job!