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QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I felt something I was tripping over,” 79-year-old James Collins told WGME on Monday, as he fought off a fox attack. “And I looked down and it was a damn fox trying to jerk my leg. So I kicked him off, and he came over and grabbed the other one. Then I fell down and I’m trying to get the weed whacker between me and him.” Here’s your soundtrack.
What we’re watching today
The president is talking about the end of a contract dispute at Bath Iron Works, and we will all be discussing it more ahead of the November election. On Monday, President Donald Trump tweeted that he was “glad to have helped” end the contract dispute at the shipyard, where the 4,400 Local S6 machinists union and the company came to a tentative agreement over the weekend to ink a contract and end a strike that began in June.
This was salesmanship from Trump as he prioritizes the state in the 2020 election. The White House’s involvement was minimal, with Peter Navarro, the president’s trade adviser, saying he had a “small and modest” role in bringing sides back to the table. Navarro, the union and the shipyard’s parent company all praised federal mediators’ role in the talks, however.
But the strike and its end will have political ramifications, not the least of which is an existential one for one of Maine’s biggest employers. The shipyard said it was six months behind on its Navy contracts entering the strike, leading the yard to consider expanding subcontracted work in a way the union resisted. They have now committed to a plan to reduce backlogs.
Union workers have also been taking notes on the different ways politicians responded to the strike. For example, both Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and her Democratic opponent, House Speaker Sara Gideon, visited the picket line while Gideon went a bit further to support the strike. A 5,000-member labor council that includes Local S6 and endorsed Collins in 2014 flipped to Gideon in late July, in part citing her response.
It could be a preview of the striking union’s endorsement, which has not come yet and would be a major symbolic boon to Gideon. However, workers will debate among themselves the value of going against an incumbent they have praised for attention to shipyard issues.
The Bangor Daily News will be releasing the results of a new poll of 500 likely Maine voters today. It will be the first of two polls commissioned by the BDN and conducted by Digital Research/Critical Insights of Portland. We polled the U.S. Senate, presidential and congressional races with more to come over the course of the day. Expect results by noon.
The Maine politics top 3
— “Maine labor department doesn’t know what to do with Trump’s ‘vague’ unemployment order,” Jessica Piper, Bangor Daily News: “Laura Fortman, commissioner of the Maine Department of Labor, said in a Monday statement that the agency was seeking further information from the federal government about the order, saying details are ‘vague and include no information about how the program should be implemented or would work, raising serious concerns about the ability to deliver benefits to out-of-work Mainers in a timely manner.’”
— “Postal workers’ union says up to 80,000 letters were held back Monday in southern Maine,” Reuben Schafir, Portland Press Herald: “‘To say, ‘This is the way it’s going to be,’ set in stone, black and white – that doesn’t work. We have to be flexible,’ said [American Postal Workers Union Local 458 General President] Scott Adams. ‘And I think the postmaster general looks at this as a business. You know, it’s not (a business), it’s a service. So we have to make a few adjustments to get 80,400 pieces of mail out to the customers, which were due today.’
— “State lawmaker calls for renewed investigation into Vinalhaven killing,” Lauren Abbate, BDN: “‘Anyone who read the newspaper accounts of the story realizes that something is gravely amiss in this whole thing,’ said [Rep. Jeff Evangelos, I-Friendship.] ‘We want a credible investigation.’”
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Despite state and federal provisions requiring testing to be covered, people across the country are still getting billed after seeking coronavirus testing. There are a few reasons why that could be the case — some doctors may have tested for other illnesses before testing for the highly contagious virus, or patients may have left the doctor’s visit before getting tested. The Bangor Daily News wants to know what your experience has been like: take the survey here.
Today’s Daily Brief was written by Michael Shepherd. If you’re reading this on the BDN’s website or were forwarded it, email email@example.com (we’re setting up a new subscriber page soon) to subscribe to it via email.