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Portland, Maine: Protest Shuts Down Key Interstate Ramp

Mary Beth and I drove to Portland early yesterday afternoon to join a large protest in solidarity with Gaza. I was asked to be a police 'liaison' along with one other person. The people began arriving at the busy intersection of Franklin Street & Marginal Way just before 1:00 pm. Soon the two sides of the highway closest to the on-ramp for the I-295 Interstate were full of people - about 100 on each side. At 1:40 the first policeman arrived and about that same time a ceasefire banner was hung from the interstate overpass. That is when people poured out into the four-lane section of road to effectively shut down traffic.

University Of Maine Graduate Students Win Union Recognition

The Maine Labor Relations Board last week certified the Maine Graduate Workers Union-UAW after an independent arbitrator determined it had a majority support among graduate workers, according to the Maine AFL-CIO. The university system said in August it would recognize the union and began bargaining if an independent analysis found it had a majority support. The graduate workers union will represent about 1,000 graduate assistants, research assistants and teaching assistants who make up a large percentage of the teaching and research workforce across the system’s seven campuses, according to the Maine AFL-CIO, which announced the certification on Friday afternoon.

Where Will 12 New Destroyers At Bath Iron Works Be Sent?

In an article in the mid-coast Maine publication called the (August 18) it was reported that Bath Iron Works (BIW) had just reached agreement with the Machinists Union Local S6 on a new contract. The union represents 4,250 of the shipyard's 6,500 workers. The article concluded by reporting that BIW is currently building twelve Aegis destroyers at the Maine shipyard. BIW is owned by the General Dynamics Corporation (GD) headquartered in Reston, Virginia. Phebe N. Novakovic is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer and made $21,478,167 in 2022.

‘Blue Dogs’ Get Money From Sallie Mae After Opposing Student Debt Relief

The Blue Dog Coalition, a group of corporate House Democrats led by Rep. Jared Golden, received the maximum donation from student lending giant Sallie Mae after the Second District congressman voted earlier this year against Pres. Joe Biden’s plan to cancel $430 billion in federal student debt. The disclosure comes as student loan payments are set to resume after a three-year pause during the COVID-19 pandemic. Golden was one of two Democrats to vote in May with House Republicans for a resolution blocking the Biden administration’s plan for a one-time cancellation of up to $20,000 in federal student loan debt for borrowers who qualified.

The Forgotten Victims Of America’s Class War

Mechanic Falls, Maine – I am sitting in Eric Heimel’s barbershop in the center of Mechanic Falls. Russ Day, who was the owner for 52 years before he sold it to Eric, cut my hair as a boy. The shop looks the same. The mounted trout on the walls. The worn linoleum floor. The 1956 Emil J. Paidar barber chair. The two American flags on the wall flanking the oval mirror. The plaque that reads: “If a Man is Alone In the Woods, With No Woman to Hear Him, Is He Still Wrong?” Another plaque that reads: “Men have 3 hairstyles parted…unparted…and DEPARTED!” I can almost see my grandfather, with his thick gold masonic ring on his pinky finger smoking an unfiltered Camel cigarette, waiting for Russ to finish.

Protest At BIW Destroyer ‘Christening’ – Arsenal Of Hypocrisy

On Saturday, 23 activists from around the state gathered on very short notice to protest at another Aegis destroyer 'christening' at Bath Iron Works (owned by General Dynamics) here in Maine. In the past the event was open to the public with weeks advance notification. But after  a series of large protests and several high profile civil resistance actions things have changed. In current times there are only a few days notice and attendance is by invitation only. The past long lines of the general public wishing to enter are over. These destroyers are outfitted with nuclear-capable Tomahawk cruise missiles as well as so-called 'missiles defense' systems.

A Degrowth Housing Vision For Maine

Last year, my partner and I bought a 200 year old, recently renovated farmhouse in central Maine on less than an acre of land. Our town looks similar to other small towns like it throughout New England. The population is about 3,600 people and the landscape is rural-suburban: single family homes, some small businesses, municipal buildings and farms scattered over a forested area with long, winding paved roads that cut through town because everyone gets around by car. The roads aren’t very bike-friendly, though a few fearless cyclists still use them. Some people work on farms, in the local shops and municipal offices, or remotely from home like my partner and I, but most residents commute into and often get dinner in the larger cities and towns in the area. Imagining a transformative housing path towards degrowth from the perspective of my house and my neighborhood in central Maine means making some assumptions about the general trajectory of humanity, and New England in particular, over the next few years and decades.

Our Power Delivers Signatures For Referendum On Consumer-Owned Utility

A group seeking to place an initiative on the November 2023 ballot to replace Maine’s unpopular investor-owned utilities, Central Maine Power and Versant, with a nonprofit power company submitted over 80,000 signatures Monday, far exceeding the total needed to trigger a referendum. Our Power, the group spearheading the campaign, announced its haul at a press conference at the State House before handing its petitions into the Secretary of State’s Office. That office now has a month to verify the signatures, but with a wide margin over the slightly more than 63,000 signatures needed for a ballot initiative, Our Power’s referendum is very likely to be on the ballot in November 2023. “We have news for you, CMP and Versant, and for your greedy corporate and foreign-government owners. Today, over 80,000 Maine voters are ready to revoke your monopoly privilege,” Andrew Blunt, executive director of Our Power, said at Monday’s press conference.

Five Rural Maine Towns Form Coalition For Affordable Broadband

Maine - Spurred to action by inadequate high-speed Internet service as the pandemic besieged their communities, local officials and citizen volunteers in five rural Maine towns formed the Southwestern Waldo County Broadband Coalition (SWCBC) in an effort to bring ubiquitous and affordable broadband to its portion of Waldo County. Two years later, the SWCBC is close to securing a major victory for local Internet choice in the face of a well-funded opposition campaign sweeping the Pine Tree State as the Big Telecom lobby and its allies try to undermine the very idea of publicly-owned, locally-controlled broadband networks in Maine and elsewhere. The five SWCBC towns clustered about 30 miles east of Augusta – home to approximately 5,600 Mainers – are looking to create what is known as a Broadband Utility District (BUD).

How A Small Town In Maine Stopped A Silver Mine

Pembroke, Maine — One May evening, residents packed into a Pembroke meeting room to decide the future of their town. On the agenda: Should Pembroke ban industrial metal mining? The coalition of farmers, environmentalists and retirees who had called the vote wasn’t sure what to expect. Pembroke, a town of fewer than 900, isn’t exactly a liberal stronghold — Donald Trump carried the county twice. But this was not a national election, and the mining threat was not abstract: In 2021, Canadian company Wolfden Resources unveiled plans to mine for silver uphill from the wells residents rely on for water and just 2 miles from the rich estuary of Cobscook Bay. Severine von Tscharner Fleming, one of the leaders of the grassroots effort to stop the mine, puts it this way: In Pembroke, “people are not all in the same part of the political spectrum, but our common ground is literally our common ground.”

Terminated Chipotle Workers Accuse Company Of Union Busting

Augusta, Maine - Workers who had hoped to form the first union at a Chipotle Mexican Grill believe the company closed their restaurant and terminated their jobs this week, because they were poised to form the first union among the chain’s 3,000 establishments. Chipotle closed its Augusta restaurant on Tuesday after two-thirds of its employees had pledged to form an independent union, Chipotle United, and just two-and-a-half hours before workers were scheduled to meet with the National Labor Relations Board about their union election. "They knew they would lose," Brandi McNease, who worked the Augusta restaurant for more than three years and led the union drive, said in an interview Friday. "I was just so angry. No. We had a fair fight going. We were doing things the right way, and you just took your bat and ball and went home?

Augusta Chipotle Workers Have Formed A Union

The workers at the Augusta Chipotle are forming a union. The workers at the restaurant in the state’s capital filed for recognition as an independent union, Chipotle United, on Wednesday, according to the Maine AFL-CIO. That comes just a week after the Chipotle workers staged a two-day walkout in protest of what they called unsafe working conditions. Chipotle workers told the Kennebec Journal last week that low staffing is a big concern for them. Two workers are often doing the food preparation work of six people, and the restaurant will be staffed with three to four people when at least seven are needed. In a letter to the chain’s national management, they called those demands “unreasonable” and said they jeopardize the safety of customers and themselves.

How Lobstermen Formed A Union Co-Op To Claw Back Fair Prices

When you think of workers hamstrung by the “independent contractor” label, you probably don’t think of Maine lobstermen. But it turns out that lobstermen—a title claimed by women as well as men who catch and sell lobster for a living—have something in common with warehouse temps and Uber drivers. As independent contractors they’re denied the collective bargaining rights and various other workplace protections and benefits afforded (to some) by U.S. labor law. And the strategy they used to confront low wages is one that similarly exploited workers might want to try too: they teamed up with a union to set up a worker-owned co-op. The lobstermen partnered with the Machinists to create both an affiliate union local and a marketing cooperative.

Maine Lawmakers Pass ‘A Gift To The Planet’

Climate action advocate Bill McKibben welcomed a development he called "a gift to the planet" after Maine state lawmakers on Tuesday passed a groundbreaking bill committing the state to divesting its assets from the fossil fuel industry. LD 99—"An Act to Require the State to Divest Itself of Assets Invested in the Fossil Fuel Industry"—cleared the state Senate Tuesday in a 19-13 vote. It passed the House last week over the objections of Republicans like state Rep. Michael Lemelin (R-88), who asserted that lowering carbon emissions will kill trees. The legislation calls on the state treasury and state retirement system not to make any further investments in the fossil fuel industry and sets a 2026 deadline for fossil fuel divestment.

Mother’s Day Demonstration At Trident Nuclear Submarine Base

Bangor, Washington -  people were present on May 8th (the day before Mother's Day), at the demonstration against Trident nuclear weapons at the Bangor submarine base.  Five demonstrators blocked the main highway entrance into the base for over 20 minutes and were cited by the Washington State Patrol. At around 2 pm on Saturday, the five demonstrators entered the highway carrying two large banners stating,“CONGRESS WANTS $1 TRILLION FOR NUKES--What will be left for our children” and “TRIDENT THREATENS ALL LIFE ON EARTH” and blocked all incoming traffic at the Main Gate at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor.  They were removed from the highway by the Washington State Patrol.
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