LEWISTON, Maine — At the start of 2013, a group of lobstermen from up and down the coast got together and something that surprised many: They formed a union.
By the end of the year, the Maine Lobstermen Union boasted more than 600 members, and its list of achievements was growing fast.
It lobbied legislators in Augusta and defeated a bill that would have allowed the possession of lobsters caught by commercial dragging.
The union passed a law allowing active-duty service members to maintain their lobster licenses while on active duty.
It took on matters of affordable insurance for lobstermen and lobbied legislators to reduce the amounts of annual surcharges.
“For the first time,” said lobster boat Capt. Julie Eaton,”we feel like we have a voice. For the first time, we feel hope that we can protect our way of life.”
Eaton, of Stonington, is secretary and treasurer of the union and captain of the Cat Sass. On Friday night, she was just one lobsterman as the new union was honored with a Workers Solidarity Award by Western Maine Central Labor Council at the Workers’ Memorial Day and May Day Dinner.