Union Lobster, Vote Tuesday & the 1985 FMC Strike

IN THIS EDITION:

  • Lobstering Union Lands Coveted Fair Trade Certification
  • USPS to Hold Job Fair this Saturday
  • Don't Forget to Vote on Tuesday March 3!
  • Building Trades Support Funding for High Road Apprenticeships
  • 35th Anniversary of FMC Strike Highlights Need for PRO ACT

Lobstering Union (IAM) Becomes First Lobster Group in the World to        Land Fair Trade Certification  

Packing lobsters at the Lobstering Union's coop in Trenton.

The Maine Lobstering Union (Machinists Local 207) was just awarded the highly coveted Fair Trade Certification by Fair Trade USA earlier this month, according to a recent article in Maine Biz. Lobster 207 in Trenton is now not only the only union-based cooperative in the North America, but also the only lobster group in the world to earn this prestigious designation. The Fair Trade Seal means that the Lobstering Union members have met rigorous standards for environmental stewardship, social responsibility and fair labor practices.  

According to Maine Biz, this will allow their catch to be sold with the “Fair Trade Premium,” which provides a percentage of sales to be used to fund initiatives to improve the livelihoods of lobstermen, their families and local communities. Nationally, more than 20 retailers buy and promote Fair Trade certified seafood products, including Whole Foods Market and Safeway. Congratulations brothers and sisters! 

USPS to Hold Job Fair this Saturday!

Looking for a good union job with benefits? The Postal Service is now hiring and will be holding a job fair this Saturday, February 29 from 9 to 3 at the Southern Maine Processing and Distribution Center, 79 Postal Service Way in Scarborough! For information on how to apply click here.

Don't Forget to Vote on Tuesday!

Maine’s primary elections will be held this Tuesday, March 3, at polling places throughout the state. Democrats will be voting to nominate their choice for President. President Donald Trump is the only candidate on the ballot for the Republican nomination. 
All Mainers, regardless of party affiliation, will have the opportunity to weigh in on a new state law that eliminates non-medical exemptions from childhood vaccinations. The question reads:
 
Do you want to reject the new law that removes religious and philosophical exemptions to requiring immunization against certain communicable diseases for students to attend schools and colleges and for employees of nursery schools and health care facilities?

The law passed last year eliminated religious and philosophical exemptions for mandatory school vaccinations. For Tuesday's referendum, a “no” vote upholds the law, meaning only medical exemptions would be permitted. A “yes” vote repeals the law, meaning children could be exempted from vaccines for non-medical reasons. 

Voters in most of Brewer will vote in a special election to fill a State House seat left vacant by the passing of Rep. Archie Verow. The Maine AFL-CIO has endorsed IBEW 1837 member Kevin O’Connell to fill that seat. To find your polling place click here!

Building Trades Call for Funding High-Road Apprenticeships

Members of IBEW 1253 in front of Maine General Medical Center. Photo: Dean Denis

The Maine State Building & Construction Trades Council was up in Augusta on Wednesday to support a provision in the Governor's supplemental budget that will provide $1.3 million for apprenticeship programs. Currently, the state provides about $200,000 a year for apprenticeships, but funding has not kept up with the exponential growth in these programs over the years. As a result, the Department of Labor announced in August that it would have to make cuts in training reimbursements. Currently, a number of building trades unions receive state apprenticeship funding which will be cut unless this funding comes through. 

Unfortunately, unlike union apprenticeship programs, many of the other job training programs that receive state funding do not provide pathways to jobs with living wages and benefits. On Wednesday, Maine Building Trades Executive Director Jason Shedlock urged the Appropriations Committee to be careful stewards of taxpayer dollars and prioritize "higher-wage apprenticeship that lead to career-sustaining employment opportunities." 

35th Anniversary of FMC Strike Highlights Need for PRO ACT

Photo courtesy of the Courier Gazette.

35 years ago this week management at FMC’s Marine Colloids carrageenan plant (now DuPont) in Rockland provoked its workers into a bitter 46-day strike after it demanded draconian cuts to wages, health benefits and other harsh concessions. Leaders of the United Lime, Gypsum and Allied Workers International Local 411, which represented 113 members at the plant, argued that the intent of the company was to destroy the union all along as it had sent letters to workers warning them that they would be permanently replaced if they went on strike.

After weeks of negotiations, the company made good on its threats. It halted talks, fired the striking workers and permanently replaced them with scabs, who were escorted by police across the picket line. The same tactic was used two years later by the International Paper Company against its workers in Jay. 

Let us remember these injustices in our history as we push for pro-worker legislation like the PRO Act, which would make it illegal for employers to permanently replace striking workers like they did in Rockland and Jay. Thank you to Congresswoman Chellie Pingree and Congressman Jared Golden for supporting this important legislation. And please tell Senators Susan Collins and Angus King to support the Senate version!