U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud was recognized by the Southern Maine Labor Council (SMLC) with their Working Class Hero Award today. Fellow Maine Rep. Chellie Pingree and SMLC President Douglas Born presented Michaud with the award at the organization’s annual Labor Day Breakfast in Portland.
“I’m incredibly honored to receive this award from the Southern Maine Labor Council. Maine’s workforce represents the heart of our communities and the true engine of our economy,” said Michaud. “I’ve never forgotten my roots, and I’ve never forgotten the importance of using my position in Congress to work for the betterment of all Maine families. I know that by continuing to stand side-by-side, we can keep making meaningful advancements on the issues most important to Maine families.”
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Tags: Congressman Mike Michaud·Jobs·Maine's quality of life
Mike Michaud helped secure funds for UMaine’s first in the Americas floating wind turbine project, VoltunUS. Photo by Ramona du Houx
Back in 2005 the Federal Government’s Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission announced that there would be closures of military bases across the country. Maine was targeted at three major facilities: Kittery-Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Brunswick Naval Air Station (BNAS) and Defense Finance and Accounting Services Center (DFAS) in Limestone.
The State’s Congressional Delegation swung into action along with Gov. John Baldacci, and the communities effected. Press conferences and meetings were held at each threatened facility, sometimes one a day at each location, and Congressman Mike Michaud was at the majority of them, from promoting the attributes of workers in Limestone to rallying shipyard employees in Portsmouth. He fought for the workers and their communities in Portsmouth and BNAS in Maine and D.C., even though those bases were not in his congressional district.
After ten years of reporting on the Congressman’s activities, I’ve learned that there is nothing more important to him that making sure the people of Maine are treated fairly and have good paying jobs with healthcare benefits.
Congressman Mike Michaud gives a shipyard union leader a congratulatory hug for helping to Save the Shipyard from BRAC closure in 2003. Photo by Ramona du Houx
Recently we talked about his economic development plans for Maine.
Q: What is your highest priority?
My biggest priority is building a Maine economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthiest among us. That starts with job creation, but it also means an intense focus on education, starting with early childhood, and continuing through college; it means a higher minimum wage and expanded access to health care for nearly 70,000 Mainers, and 3,000 veterans; and it means empowering business to grow and expand.
Under Gov. LePage and his failed policies, Maine has lagged behind the rest of New England in private-sector job growth. His “open for business” policy is nothing but rhetoric. He’s actually driven hundreds of millions of dollars of private-sector investment out of the state.
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Tags: Agriculture·Congressman Mike Michaud·Elections in Maine·Jobs·Maine·Maine's 2014 governor's race·Maine's quality of life
“When women succeed, America succeeds,” said President Obama at a executive order singing event for equal pay at the White House. Women compose nearly half of the American workforce – yet, according to the latest U.S. Census statistics, on average, full-time working women still earn 77 cents to every dollar earned by men.
On Equal Pay Day, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree welcomed the executive order by President Obama that bans retaliation against employees of federal contractors who discuss their salaries. Pingree and female colleagues in the House had written to Obama in January urging him to issue such an order.
One of the first bills that Pingree voted for in Congress—and the first that President Obama signed—was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The law makes it easier for women to recover lost wages to discrimination. At the executive order bill singing Ledbetter said many women still don’t know that discrimination is happening. Ledbetter only found out about the discrepancy in her pay when co-worker sent her a note saying she was getting paid less. After that Ledbetter went to court and it was disclosed that a man in her same job had earned over 200,000 more than she did during the same time period. But the court also said she was too late filing the lawsuit against her employer. That provision is gone due to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
“Despite the strides we’ve made in recent years, women continue to earn 21 percent less than their male counterparts for doing the same work in Maine,” said Congressman Mike Michaud. “I was proud to pass legislation in Maine more than a decade ago instituting Equal Pay Day. We’re reminded today that more still needs to be done to ensure women are receiving equal pay as men. It’s unbelievable that women who do the same jobs as men stand to make substantially less money – just because of their gender. Both women and men serve as breadwinners for families, and both women and men face the same financial obligations and challenges. It’s time for us to take action that corrects this inequity once and for all.”
Michaud is running for Maine Governor against Gov. Paul LePage and Independent Elliot Cutlar.
“Wage discrimination is still a problem in the workplace but many women may not even know they are making less than their male counterparts. Nearly half of all workers in the country are either prohibited or strongly discouraged from discussing their pay,” said Pingree. “If you don’t know you are being discriminated against, it’s impossible to do something about it.”
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Tags: Civil Rights·Equal pay·Equality·Jobs·Maine's quality of life
Bangor City Councilman Joe Baldacci is so committed to the cause to keep the Odlin Road bus route operational and he will forego his City Council salary to help defray cost.
“Earlier this month I said I would be willing to donate my salary as a Bangor City Councilor to keep the buses running on the Oldin Road route. Today I kept that promise,” said Councilman Baldacci. “I delivered to the city manager an authorization to assign the equivalent of my salary for one year, or $2,000, back to City Hall to extend the bus route for an additional month.”
The city has cited their goal of saving roughly $20,000 dollars as the primary reason for closing the route.The shut down of the bus route was proposed even though ridership has steadily increased.
On Monday the City Council took action to create a public fund with the initial goal to keep the bus route running until November 1st. It was indicated that at least $4,000 would be needed to make this happen.
“With my donation, and another private donation made Monday night, our short term goal has been reached. Now we have time to work on our longer term goal of creating a public/private partnership to keep that bus route up and running,” said Baldacci.
The route serves primarily low-income working people who are struggling to overcome poverty. There are few other transportation options for those living in this region.
“We appreciate Councilor Baldacci’s support. For myself and many other riders, the Community Connector is the only affordable way to get to work and meet our basic needs. This is why public transit is a critical part of a just community,” said Ted Rippy a Food AND Medicine (FAM) board member.
Donations are still needed-
“It would be great if private businesses in the area and other interested citizens come forward with donations – big or small – everything will help,” said Councilman Baldacci. “People rely on this bus service for work and other important services. This lifeline needs to continue for the well being of our citizens and the growth of Bangor’s economy.”
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Tags: Importance of buses·Jobs·Maine's quality of life·Transportation
Community Connector riders, bus drivers, clergy, and concerned citizens rallied together outside city hall to express their concerns over the City of Bangor’s decision to close the Odlin Rd. bus route. Following the rally, community members attended a 2:00 pm public forum held by Bangor City Council on the route closure.
“People rely on this bus service for work and other important services ” said City Councilman Joe Baldacci. “What I proposed to the city manager today was to come up with the $4,000 to fund the route for two additional months – until November 1st. During that time we need to work with the affected businesses and workers to come up with a longer term public/private solution.”
The Odlin route, which opened fifteen months ago, was the result of a five-year petition campaign by Bangor residents living on Odlin Road and Outer Hammond Street. The Odlin route serves primarily low-income working people who are struggling to overcome poverty.
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Tags: Jobs·Maine's quality of life
Recently Governor LePage vetoed a bill that would have given workers a reasonable minimum wage of $8 per hour. More and more economists, like Paul Kurgman, are in agreement that a livable wage for the USA is needed to compete successfully globally. But Walmart and McDonald’s refuse to increase the minimum wage for workers and keep their workers hours short enough so they can’t claim medical benefits.
That practice often leads to workers having to use emergency rooms for their medical care which in turn makes insurance premiums go up and increases medicaid enrollments. The Affordable Care Act has mandated that businesses will have to insure workers that work a minimal of 30 hours. But Sen. Susan Collins of Maine has submitted a bill to try and change that requirement to 40 hours. Under the Affordable Care Act, companies with 50 or more workers would have to provide health insurance coverage to their full-time employees or risk a series of escalating tax penalties.
“For all its productivity innovations, Walmart has also been a key player in a “race to the bottom” that has tamped down wages and dismantled worker protections in the U.S. in recent decades. It’s at least worth asking if the economy would be better off with a race in the opposite direction,” wrote Justin Fox in his article The Case for Paying People More.
The battle over increasing the minimum wage will soon be fought on capitol hill, as President Obama has put forward an increase of the minimum wage in his State of the Union.
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Tags: Jobs·Maine's quality of life
New proposed facility-sketch of the expansion at the aerospace facility in Bangor.
C&L Aerospace announced a paint hangar and regional aircraft maintenance & management services expansion that is expected to create an additional 50-70 full time jobs at the maintenance facility in Bangor, Maine.
C&L has been assisted in the expansion through the work of the Economic Development Officials of the City of Bangor, which was recently awarded a $580,000 federal grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Association. The Bangor City Council has also been working with the firm for over a year on this expansion project.
“New jobs for eastern and northern Maine is always good news. Even before this announcement the company had added about 50 additional workers since it purchased the old Telford Aviation a couple of years ago,” said Councilman Joe Baldacci.
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Tags: economic development·Economy·Jobs
Lawmakers reconvened today to take up more of the governor’s vetoes, including measures to raise the minimum wage, reporting BPA toxic chemicals in foods, supporting public schools and to address the need for warrants for drone surveillance and cell phone location tracking data.
So far, LePage has vetoed a record-breaking 83 bills this session and it’s possible that even more are in the works. On Monday, the governor issued 21 vetoes in fewer than 24 hours. Another veto was issued Tuesday morning before the House went into session. Lawmakers have been able to put party loyalty aside for the good of Maine people.
“The governor’s veto rampage is not just record-breaking, it’s mind-boggling. Good bills with unanimous approval, bipartisan support, life-saving potential and commonsense approaches have been victims of this irresponsible binge,” said House Majority Leader Seth Berry. “We need our Republican colleagues to stand up for the good work of this Legislature.”
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Tags: Economy·Government transparency·Jobs·Maine's quality of life
More than 40 Customer Service Representatives at the Central Maine Power Company Call Center in Augusta have won the right to be represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local #1837 for collective bargaining. In a secret ballot election administered by the National Labor Relations Board in June, a majority of the permanent employees voted in favor of the Union. The NLRB certified IBEW as the employees’ representative in late June.
“I’m very happy that the Augusta Call Center stuck together to make a change,” said Customer Service Representative Joe Giuffrida.
These workers will be incorporated into the largest bargaining unit at CMP with more than 500 other IBEW-represented employees. A second, smaller group of CMP Customer Service Representatives in Portland had already been represented by the Union. The non-union Augusta Call Center workers had voiced complaints about unfair personnel policies that made their already difficult jobs even more stressful. Both groups of workers take customer service and billing phone calls on behalf of Maine’s largest electric utility.
“We’re looking forward to helping the CMP Customer Service Representatives negotiate improvements in their working conditions at the Call Center while ensuring that CMP’s customers continue to enjoy the outstanding customer service that they provide,” said IBEW Local #1837 Business Manager Dick Rogers. “Like most CMP employees, they’re grateful to finally have a real voice at work for them that comes with being a union member.”
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Tags: Jobs·Maine's quality of life·unions
Reflections in the windows of a renovated mill, the Hathaway Creative Center, in Waterville, Maine. Photo By Ramona du Houx
The Hathaway Creative Center is back in the news as one of the sate’s the largest employers, MaineGeneral Health, is leasing 30,000 square feet more.
MaineGeneral Health said they are proud to help preserve Maine’s cultural heritage. “We are pleased to make another significant contribution to Waterville’s downtown revitalization,” said Chuck Hays for MaineGeneral in a new Morning Sentinel article by Matt Hongoltz-Hetling, “and to be a part of the preservation of this historic landmark.”
The Hathaway Center in Waterville, photo by Ramona du Houx
As one of Hathaway’s key anchor businesses they are apparently satisfied with the Center, the community and the atmosphere the work environment offers. Expanding at the Center afforded them Pine Tree Development Zone tax incentives and was an opportunity to give more of their employees a great quality of life place to work.
“It helps your central business district, the heart of your community, because you have the population density that allows people to live, work and shop in your community,” said Darryl Sterling, the executive director of the Central Maine Growth Council who commented that the Hathaway site will bring Waterville more benefits than a building on the outskirts of the city.
Historic renovations are more appealing than a cheaply built modern building.
“No matter who’s in them, people are happy,” said Tom Niemann, lead developer of the Center, in the same article, “whether you live in them, work in them, or eat a meal in them. They’ve got exposed brick, wood floors, high ceilings, great sunlight, and then to know you’re a part of history.”
Special historic tax credits were established for Hathaway with the persistence advice and patience, of the developers. Those tax credits are helping historic renovations across the state since they were expanded. For the developers bringing a historic landmark back to life and helping to revitalize the area makes the project well worth the effort.
“From a business standpoint, you can’t replace these kinds of structures, the history,” said Niemann, “Think of how many people have been associated with the history of the Hathaway Creative Center. It’s the legacy of the community.”
The ground floor of the Hathaway Center still has leasing opportunities. photo by Ramona du Houx
Tags: economic development·History·Jobs·Pine Tree Development Zones·Tax incentives