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  • Central Maine union members deliver Christmas Dinner Harvest to families in need

    By Ramona du Houx

    Unions members who work at the Sappi Fine Paper in Skowhegan raised $15,854 in their annual Christmas Dinner Harvest drive and delivered Christmas dinners and donations to local area foodbanks on December 17th and 18th.

    "It gets better every time," said Cindy Rancourt, Recording Secretary of United Steelworkers Local 9. "It was very successful, everyone was very happy. We want to help the community out. This was a big effort from a lot of people working together."

    Workers who are members of United Steelworkers Local 9 along with members of three other local unions at Sappi have been working to raise the money to provide meals to families in need and donations to community food cupboards for Christmas.

    "We're so glad to be able to help out families in our community who may be struggling to make ends meet this holiday season," said Patrick Carleton of Chesterville, a paper maker at Sappi and President of United Steelworkers Local 9. "We were able to purchase an incredible amount of food, we filled 11 trucks completely, an 18 foot trailer, and a 12 foot trailer. We have already heard back from a few of the foodbanks saying thank you, they didn’t expect to receive so much."

    The collection has happened annually since 2008.

    Union members loaded 11 trucks and two trailers to deliver food to 11 different community foodbanks as well as delivering 100 complete Christmas Dinners. The towns include Fairfield, Vassalboro, Waterville, Oakland, Skowhegan, Mercer, Smithfield, Madison, Solon, Starks and Farmington.

    In addition to the funds raised by union members, donation were contributed by Sappi Fine Paper, Fairfield grocer the Village Market, and Associated Grocers of New England.

    In addition to the Christmas dinners and food cupboard donations, the members also purchased and delivered comfort items to the Veterans Volunteer Services at Togus on December 17th. These items include winter socks, shampoo, soap, shaving cream, razors and electric shavers, gas cards, Hannaford cards for groceries, mittens, hats, light jackets, sweatshirts and a few games.

     Union volunteers met today at the Village Market on Main Street, Fairfield where they purchased and loaded food and drove it to the USW Local 4-9 Union Hall. It was then divided up, loaded onto trucks, and went out to the communities.

    Afterwards the Christmas Harvest Drive Committee held their Annual Meeting to start planning for next year.

  • Union solidarity at BIW in Maine

    Bath Iron Works shipbuilders took to the streets May 21st for a solidarity rally. Photo by Sarah Bigney

    By Ramona du Houx

    Bath Iron Works shipbuilders took to the streets May 21st for a solidarity rally to promote solidarity during the year before the union’s contract expires.

    “The union is behind its leadership, and the company is going to have to negotiate with us and not dictate to us," said Jay Wadleigh, president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local S6. “They need to abide by the contract, stop misleading the media and just work with us so we can get the costs of these ships down. We’re the best shipbuilders in the world. We want to work. We just want to be treated with dignity and respect and be negotiated with and not dictated to.”

    BIW is known as one of the best shipbuilders in America. It's slogan is "Bath Built is Best Built."

    This is the second big march at the shipyard this year. On March 24 nearly 1,000 members of the International Association of Machinists Union Local marched to rallying support and protesting a variety of proposed BIW changes.

    Caps on defense spending have resulted in fewer Naval contracts thus spurring the BIW changes including outsourcing work and cross-training employees.

    BIW says the measures will increase the shipyard’s efficiency and keep the costs of building destroyers competitive. The shipyard insists it needs to be competitive to win two bidding contracts. But the union says there are better ways to cut costs. The stalemate has resulted in a third-party arbitration and a federal lawsuit charging BIW with violating its contract with workers.


    Bath Iron Works shipbuilders took to the streets May 21st for a solidarity rally. Photo by Sarah Bigney

  • FairPoint, IBEW, and CWA reach tentative agreements after over 125 strike days

    Photo: Rep. Mark Bryant visited with Fairpoint workers on strike to show his solidarity.

    FairPoint Communications, Inc. (Nasdaq: FRP); System Council T-9 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (AFL-CIO) Locals 2320, 2326, 2327; and the Communications Workers of America (AFL-CIO) Local 1400 have announced that they have reached tentative agreements on the terms for new collective bargaining agreements.

    "It's a good day to have this strike resolved. Nearly 2,000 good paying jobs in northern New England including 70 in Bangor area will be protected. I congratulate the Fairpoint workers and their families who have sacrificed much," said Bangor City Councilor Joe Baldacci, who spent time with the workers in Bangor.  Many striking workers attended, for free, a spaghetti dinner co-hosted by Baldacci, with his brother fromer Governor John Baldacci.

    The tentative agreements only happened after over 125 days of FairPoint workers in Maine, and other states, being on strike. Dispite the cold weather and tremendous storms their efforts seemed to have paid off.

    "The men and women who work at Fairpoint are some of the best trained, most experienced and dedicated telecommunication workers around," said Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. "It's important to keep those jobs in Maine and get these people back to work. It's been clear that our telephone network has suffered without them on the job."

    Pingree, who visited the picket line several times and wrote to the company CEO urging and end to the strike. praised the workers for their endurance.

    "They spent months on the picket line, sometimes in very cold weather, fighting to keep these good jobs in Maine. Their perseverance in very difficult conditions was impressive," said Pingree. "And the support of the communityhas also been incredible, from people who dropped off food on a daily basis to the donations to the strike fund that helped workers keep their homes heated and their families fed."

    Today was day 126 of the strike. 

    The Company and the Unions agree that the terms of their new collective bargaining agreements will address, in meaningful and constructive ways, the objectives of the parties and that the new labor agreements will provide employees with wages and benefits that are among the best in northern New England. At the same time, the agreements permit the Company to achieve a much more competitive position in the marketplace.

    Union members will vote on ratification of the tentative agreements as soon as possible. Effective with the signing of the tentative agreements, the parties agreed that striking employees will return to work on Wednesday, February 25, 2015.