Strike Vote, Contract Win & the Spirit of Solidarity!

IN THIS EDITION: 

  • Calais Nurses & Caregivers Vote to Authorize Strike
  • Spirit of Solidarity Strong at Labor Day Celebrations!
  • USW Locals in Madawaska Ratify Strong Contract
  • Maine AFL-CIO Convention — Oct. 24-25th!

Calais Nurses & Caregivers Vote to Authorize Strike

After a year of contract negotiations, the caregivers at Calais Regional Hospital (CRH), members of the Maine State Nurses Association/NNU, have authorized a strike for the first time in the hospital's history. No strike date has been set at this time, but should the bargaining team decide to move forward with a strike, nurses and the other caregivers will provide hospital management ten days' advance notice so that CRH can make appropriate preparations.

"We have asked for no new money or new benefits in this contract," said Anne Sluzenski, a nurse and member of the union bargaining team. "We simply asked for the status quo, in order to help Calais Regional get back on its financial feet. But our employer mistook our generosity for weakness and demanded concessions in our paid time off and the language protecting health insurance."

“We see patient care deteriorating by the day because of the poor decisions being made by our hospital’s management,” said Billie Jo Ham, a radiology technologist. “We are literally forced to work consecutive shifts from nights to days without enough time to sleep. Our fight, first and foremost, is for safe patient care.”

The mistreatment of workers across the hospital has resulted in record-low employee morale, high turnover, and dozens of unfilled positions at this 25-bed facility. It is now up to management to decide if they respect their patients and the caregivers who serve them or to allow a strike to move forward.

Spirit of Solidarity Strong at Labor Day Celebrations!

Brother Jose La Luz delivers a barn burning speech at the SMLC breakfast.


Hundreds of workers turned out this past weekend for Labor Day celebrations across the state in Brewer, Winslow, Lewiston and Portland. Although it was a bit soggy, the weather didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the crowds for strengthening workers rights, fighting for economic justice and building the labor movement. Veteran organizer Jose La Luz brought the house down at each event with fiery speeches calling for worker solidarity and Medicare for All.

La Luz told an audience at the Eastern Maine Labor Council barbecue in Brewer that he had not seen such a strong spirit of solidarity in other states as he had witnessed in Maine this weekend.

“That means despite rain and all the odds and obstacles, you made a choice to be here, which tells me that [you are] men and women who make the choice to be active and the ones who turn the wheels of history,” he said. “You are the ones who have built this movement of ours.”

If you were unable to make it to the celebrations, don’t worry because we’ve got a video of Jose La Luz's speech at the Western Maine Labor Council right here! Also check out our Labor Day op-eds here and here.

USW Locals in Madawaska Ratify Strong 4-year Contract

Members of USW Locals 291, 365 and 1247 at the Twin Rivers paper mill in Madawaska have ratified a strong four-year contract. The contract offer was improved after members rejected the initial contract and approved a resounding strike authorization vote. The approved contract includes:

  • Improved wages (3%, 2.25%, 2.25%, 2%) + a $1,000 signing bonus
  • Enhanced bridge benefits for early retirement
  • A cap on forced overtime
  • Improved life insurance for members and retirees
  • Removal of THC from the random drug testing list
  • Improved S&A, shoe allowances and language in parts of the contract

“The mill in Madawaska has seen many years of uncertainty, changes of ownership and concession,” said Mike Higgins, a labor rep with USW. “For this reason, many of our members were willing to put their livelihoods on the line, by forcing a strike vote, in order to provide a better life for their families.” 

Maine AFL-CIO Convention — Oct. 24-25th!

The Maine AFL-CIO’s 32nd Biennial Convention will be held on October 24-25 in Bangor. This will be a chance for affiliated unions to chart the course of Maine's labor movement, engage in key discussions on building worker power, how to get more members involved, labor and climate change & lots more, recognize this year's award winners and elect a new Executive Board.  All affiliated unions should attend. We have sent registration and delegate information to all affiliated unions. Let us know if you need any paperwork - 207-622-9675.