A strike, a walk out & a contract win


  • Shaw’s Truck Drivers & Mechanics Return to Work After Brief Strike
  • Maine Dollar General Workers Quit En Masse to Protest Poor Treatment
  • IBEW 1837 Members at Central Maine Power Ratify New 4-Year Contract 
  • MSNA Members to Hold Vigil in Portland for 375 Nurses Who Died of Covid
  • Maine May Day Rallies Focus on Building Workers Power & Supporting the PRO Act
  • Workers Testify in Support of Bill to Fix Maine’s Unemployment System
  • Union members Support Bill to Require PPP for Frontline Workers

Shaw’s Drivers & Mechanics Return to Work After Brief Strike

Teamsters 340 members on strike Monday. Photo by Doug Born.

Drivers and mechanics with Shaw's/Clifford Perham (Teamsters 340) returned to work Wednesday as the company and the union got back to the bargaining table following a brief strike earlier this week

"Teamsters Local 340 would like to thank everyone who came out to the strike line or showed their support somehow," said  Local 340 Business Agent Joe Piccone in a statement. "We were even lucky enough to have father/son members on the line! Solidarity made this happen.  We ask you to stand ready if the need again arises."
According to union leaders, the main items of contention are about subcontracting and the amount of company contributions to retirement accounts. Negotiations for a contract have been ongoing since August and negotiators have met 20 times since the current contract expired in October. The drivers and mechanics are responsible for keeping store shelves stocked at Shaw’s/Star Markets throughout Maine and New England.  

Maine Dollar General Workers Quit En Masse to Protest Low Wages & Poor Treatment

The door on the Dollar General in Eliot on Monday. Photo by Nate Theriault

On Monday, workers at Dollar General in Eliot quit en masse to protest poor staffing, low wages and lousy treatment. A delivery driver showed up at the location on Monday to find the doors locked and a hand written sign on the door stating, “Closed indefinitely because Dollar General doesn’t pay a living wage or treat their employees with respect.” 

Another sign said, “Google ‘general strike’ and learn how we can take our power back!” Next to a “Now Hiring Sign,” a third handwritten sign read, “If you don’t pay people enough to live their lives, why should they slave away for you?” Dollar General employees told the Maine AFL-CIO that they decided to quit the day after the departure of the manager, who quit because she was forced to work 70 hours week, seven days a week on a 40-hour a week salary.

“My coworkers were tired of putting up with being treated like garbage,” said former Dollar General employee Hannah Barr. 

Former Dollar General employee Berndt Erikson said the manager had repeatedly asked company executives for more staff, but the company failed to recruit more workers. They said eventually more and more employees quit until there were just two full-time and two part-time staff members left. As a result, the company forced the manager to work longer and longer hours while the staff had to pick up the rest of the slack.

“We told the company, ‘if you want to get people to work for you, you have to pay at least $15 an hour’ and they refused,” said Erikson, who earned just $13.25 per hour. “If you counted up all the hours the manager was working and did the math, she was making less than minimum wage. I put up the signs because if you go on Twitter, you see so many businesses putting up signs that say things like “Wendy’s is closed due to understaffing. People don’t want to work.’ Those signs have been pissing me off for months, so this was my retort."

After images of the signs went viral on social media, several people contacted Eriksonwith offers to start a GoFundMe for the workers who quit, but they have urged them to start a fund for striking workers instead.

“I’ve gained a lot of confidence and self worth from seeing that my work is necessary,” Erikson told the Maine Beacon. “No matter how much people belittle me for being a cashier or retail worker, my work was necessary. All work is valuable and no one can tell me otherwise anymore.”

IBEW 1837 Members at Central Maine Power Ratify New 4-Year Contract 

CMP Office in Portland.

IBEW 1837 members working at Central Maine Power voted on Wednesday to approve a new collective bargaining agreement with guaranteed wage increases and annual bonus payments, and without significant concessions of any kind. The contract takes effect immediately and runs through April 30, 2025. 

“The ratification of the new 4-year contract agreement with Central Maine Power is a significant step in the right direction for our members and for Maine’s largest electric utility,” said IBEW 1837 Business Manager Tony Sapienza. “After months of negotiations we were able to come to an agreement that the negotiating committee and the Union leadership could recommend to our members."

All job classifications received at least a single 2 percent wage adjustment prior to the general wage increases of 3 percent per year in each of the four years. Some job classifications, including First Class Lineworkers, received larger wage adjustments as the data conclusively proved they were underpaid and the Company found it increasingly difficult to attract and retain people in those positions.  

The Company initially proposed eliminating sick time “banks” for employees hired prior to 2014, switching to bi-weekly pay, changing some permanent holidays and instituting penalties for those who fail to meet a minimum response level for call-outs. Those proposals were eventually dropped. Union members will continue to have the same health insurance and sick time benefits without any changes.  

Maine State Nurses Association Members Hold Vigil for 375 Nurses Who Died of Covid — Wed. May 12th in Portland

Maine May Day Rallies Focus on Building Worker Power & Supporting the PRO Act

Workers at the May Day Rally in Portland.

Workers from all over Maine attended May Day rallies last weekend in Bangor, Augusta and Portland to call for workers’ rights, economic and racial justice, and passage of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. 

“Workers are essential everywhere. Everybody deserves fair wages, security in their jobs, the unions give us that voice to be heard,” said Tiffany Lister, a Bangor transit operator and member of ATU 714, at the Bangor rally. 

At the rally outside the Federal Building in Bangor workers thanked Congressman Jared Golden and Senator Angus King for co-sponsoring the PRO Act, which will expand protections for workers forming unions and ban abusive union busting tactics. 

“It enables workers to form unions without repercussion from their employers, no punishments. Unions make for strong workers which is a benefit for employers,” Lister said. 

In Augusta, MSEA-SEIU members joined lawmakers, union members and activists to promote workers rights and racial justice while the newly unionized Maine Med Nurses celebrated the formation of their union and called for passage of the PRO Act at the rally in Portland.

Workers Testify in Support Bill to Fix Maine’s Unemployment System

Vinny O'Malley (ILA 861) testifies in support of LD 1571.

More than 30 impacted workers and union members testified Monday in support of a bipartisan bill to rebuild and strengthen Maine’s unemployment system. LD 1571, sponsored by House Speaker Ryan Fecteau, will modernize Maine’s unemployment insurance program to ensure that workers receive timely and adequate unemployment benefits and that our system runs smoothly to help people get back on their feet. 

Among several other reforms, LD 1571 would create an Unemployment Peer Navigator program to help working people who have been laid off, lost work or had their hours cut access benefits and identify systemic problems in the UI system. Tammie Stone of Casco recounted her family’s struggles after she was laid off during the pandemic and was unable to get her benefits for three and half months. She said she had to ration her daughter’s medication for gastrointestinal issues to conserve it while she and her partner skipped meals to make sure their two children had enough food to eat.

“If the Maine AFL-CIO didn’t contact me and offer to help me get my unemployment benefits, I don’t know how we would have been able to survive. They also helped me secure public assistance until my unemployment benefits arrived,” said Stone. “I support LD 1571 because it would create a system to help people like me navigate unemployment and ensure we are able to get the benefits we need to support our families when we lose work.”

Please fill out this form to contact Governor Mills and legislators and ask them to support LD 1571

Union members Support Bill to Require PPP for Frontline Workers

Rockland firefighter Carl Anderson testifies on LD 1436.

On Monday, members of IAFF 1584, AFT and the Maine State Nurses Association/NNU testified in support of a bill that would ensure frontline health care workers, corrections employees, EMTs and fire fighters get the personal protective equipment (PPE) they need. LD 1436, sponsored by Rep. Kevin O'Connell (IBEW 1837), would require employers of these workers to keep stockpiles of N95 masks, air purifying respirators, isolation gowns and other PPE necessary to prevent transmission of contagious diseases like Covid-19.

“For me, I think about the videos and photos of our frontline workers having to make do with homemade or improvised PPE when they were coming into direct contact and caring for people infected with COVID-19,” said O’Connell. “To see our nurses, doctors and other critical healthcare staff wearing trash bags over their scrubs or pleading with the public to donate any extra N95s they might have at home, it was just unacceptable. We need to put steps in place to prevent that from happening again, and this bill would do just that.”