Supporting Workers During the COVID-19 Pandemic

IN THIS EDITION:

  • Workers Discuss Need for Economic Security in Response to COVID 19 Pandemic
  • Pass the COVID-19 Worker Protection Act
  • Labor Events Canceled or Postponed Due to Coronavirus Concerns
  • Workers at the Kittery Water District Organize With IBEW 1837

Workers Attend Labor Lobby Day; Discuss Need for Workplace Safety and Economic Security in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

Union members gathered for 2020 Labor Lobby Day in Augusta.


More than 150 union members traveled to Augusta on Thursday to talk with their legislators about key working class issues as part of the Maine AFL-CIO’s Annual Labor Lobby Day. Workers also called on the government to support the health and economic security of working people during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

On the same day, Governor Mills announced that the first case of COVID 19 had been reported in Maine and since then another case in Portland has been reported. Union leaders urged the Governor to take measures to ensure that workers who have to take time off during this public health crisis are able to access income replacements like earned paid sick leave and unemployment insurance. Last year, Maine expanded earned paid time off to 139,000 workers, but the law is not scheduled to take effect until next year.

At a press conference, union members unveiled their 2020 Working Class Legislative Agenda, which outlines a range of priority bills to raise wages, ensure safe workplaces, strengthen protections for injured workers, support public transportation funding and strengthen collective bargaining rights and the right to strike in the public sector.

A video of the Labor Lobby Day press conference is available here.

Pass the COVID-19 Worker Protection Act

As more Mainers test positive for the coronavirus, it’s critical that we protect health care workers who are in direct contact with infected patients. Unfortunately, this week the US Centers for Disease Control rolled back protective standards for health care workers. The national AFL-CIO is pushing for emergency legislation that will help protect health care workers from infectious diseases, make test kits free and accessible to the public, provide paid sick leave for all workers, and ensure the most vulnerable members of our society have access to food assistance programs. Please click here to tell your US Representative support the COVID-19 Worker Protection Act.

Meanwhile, it’s also imperative that we get reliable information on how to protect ourselves and others. The AFL-CIO has compiled a comprehensive list of credible educational, training and logistical resources and up-to-date materials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the World Health Organization that are available right here. 

Labor Events Canceled or Postponed Due to Coronavirus Concerns

Due to the health concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, the following local labor events have either been canceled or postponed:

The Western Maine Labor Council’s screening of “Roughing the Uppers” on March 17th has been postponed to a later date.

The Eastern Maine Labor Council’s Annual Legislative Breakfast on March 21st has been canceled.

A. Philip Randolph Institute’s Racial Justice Forum on March 22nd in Portland has been postponed to a later date.

Workers Memorial Day Service at the State House on April 27th has been canceled. 

AFL-CIO Northeast District Meeting in Boston on April 22nd has been postponed. 

Workers at the Kittery Water District Organize With IBEW 1837

Workers at the Kittery Water District in Kittery have voted to form a union with IBEW Local 1837. The 16 workers include office staff, filtration plant workers, laborers, meter readers, service technicians and others.

The employees were able to take advantage of a new state law that recognizes unions if a majority of municipal workers in a bargaining unit sign cards stating that they would like to be represented by the union. This allows workers to avoid a drawn out election processes that often allow for management to intimidate workers and interfere in the democratic process.