My name is Emery Deabay, vice president of the Eastern Maine Labor Council and a member of the United Steelworkers Local #1188. I work at the Versco mill in Bucksport. I’m proud to be part of Maine’s economic engine- working in an industry that has brought so much prosperity to our state for so many generations.We know that success builds on success. When businesses and families in the community do well, we all do better. And when workers and employers cane sit together and negotiate fairly, it’s good for the whole economy. That means it’s for good businesses of all sizes, including small businesses, which are in many ways the heart of Maine’s economy.
I’m so glad to be standing here with workers from all over Maine in support of today’s contract negotiations. We don’t need $295 an hour New York City lawyers; we need common sense and respect. Those are the Maine ideals we were brought us with. They’re free and that’s what gets the job done!
As we gather here today, Maine is at a crossroads.
We have endured six months of unprecedented attacks on the working people of Maine by Governor Paul LePage. The same person who onJanuary 5th promised to put people first. Instead we get a divisive approach that has put our children and families in danger, our natural resources, and our public safety systems at risk. He’s gone after all of us- tearing holes in the very fabric of our communities.
From child labor law rollbacks, to the mural embarrassment, to the sharp cuts exacted on retiree pensions just to fund tax breaks for the wealthy, Governor LePage has been out of step with Maine people and Maine values.
The Governor should have been creating jobs, but instead he has spent his time creating conflict and attacking the working people of Maine. You cannot attack workers with consequences and we are here so that we are sure he can hear all of our voices. We come as a coalition of workers who understand that our way of life is under attack and we plan to stop it. As a matter of fact we are stronger, more focused, and more energized than we have ever been.
What about the future? Will this unproductive attack on workers continue, or will we see a course correction that will get us on track and back working together as a state to address our challenges and take advantage of our opportunities?
Unfortunately, there are more threats on the horizon.
Several pieces of dangerous legislation were carried over, including LD 309, a so-called right-to-work bill that would undermine basic worker rights, including the right of public workers to collectively bargain. This bill would make it harder for firefighters, nurses, snow plow drivers, state troopers, law enforcement and other hard-working employees to establish safer working conditions for themselves, and safer communities for all of us.
This makes no sense and just takes us in the wrong direction.
We’re also facing proposals to dismantle the workers compensation system, as well as undermine the ability of workers at Decosters to negotiate together for safer conditions and fair wages.
Governor LePage’s all-out assault on Maine workers has started us down a road to nowhere. Nothing good will come of attacking workers. It won’t lead to more productivity, it won’t create jobs, and it won’t jump start our economy. We need to get our priorities in order.
There is a better road where all workers are respected, where Maine families, businesses and communities have a productive and bright future.
To Governor LePage, we say: “Turn this ship around!” Stop lashing out at the hard working men and women who teach our kids, make our communities strong and keep us all safer. Start focusing on Maine priorities.
We are willing to work together to create more good jobs and more opportunities for our kids so they can stay in Maine after their education is completed.