BREWER, Maine — The Eastern Maine Labor Council and Worker Center of Eastern Maine will host an event, the Maine Workers Forum on Jobs, from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, at the Brewer Auditorium, that will feature some big-name union speakers.
“A lot of Maine workers have been frustrated with legislation being considered in Augusta,” Chris Tucker, a local union member and event organizer, said Wednesday in a press release. “They feel the governor and some lawmakers have forgotten workers’ needs as they work to improve the state’s business climate. That is why we are hosting the Maine Workers Forum on Jobs.”
The event’s keynote speakers are Fred Redmond, the United Steelworkers union’s international vice president for human affairs, and Scott Gustafson, the Laborers’ International Union of North America’s New England region organizing director.
Redmond joined the steelworkers union when he went to work at Reynolds Metals Co. in McCook, Ill., in 1973 and was appointed to his United Steelworkers post in 2006, according to the union’s website.
He also serves in a number of roles with the AFL-CIO, A. Philip Randolph Institute, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, TransAfrica Forum and others, the website states.
Gustafson is a key figure in the New England region office of LiUNA, a construction workers union based in Washington, D.C.
LiUNA’s 12 million members produce 5 percent of the nation’s economic output, the group’s website states.
Workers from Eastern Maine Medical Center, Verso Paper, FairPoint Communications, Sullivan & Merritt, E.S. Boulos, CCB, Bangor Hydro, the U.S. Postal Service, Lane Construction and others will be on hand during Saturday’s forum to talk with attendees about pay, benefits and working conditions.
Several workshops also are planned on worker issues, such as how to file for unemployment insurance, how to win workers’ compensation claims, discrimination lawsuits, legislation affecting workers and benefits of joining a union. More than 20 local unions and other businesses or organizations will have booths at the forum, which will feature a “Living Mural,” a live rendition of the Maine Labor Department mural seized by Gov. Paul LePage.
“This forum is for both union and nonunion workers to learn about and gain good jobs in Eastern Maine,” Jack McKay, president of the Eastern Maine Labor Council, said in a press release about the event. “A company is only as good as its work force.”
The Eastern Maine Labor Council opened the Worker Center of Eastern Maine, dubbed “A Union for Non-Union Workers,” in September 2007 and it is listed as Food AND Medicine’s largest project.
Food AND Medicine is a Brewer nonprofit group that provides aid to displaced and unorganized laborers and also strives to support worker rights.
Those who want more information or to register for the forum may go to foodandmedicine.org or call 989-4141.