Carter Nacri of Lewiston enjoys an ear of corn at the 12th annual Western Maine Labor Council’s Labor Day barbecue Monday in Lewiston. His father was a union worker for 12 years and the family came to support the council. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

LEWISTON — “This is a moment of incredible uncertainty and danger and significant oppression of working people,” former president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association Barbara Madeloni said Monday at the 12th annual Western Maine Labor Council Labor Day barbecue.

Madeloni, who was president of MTA from 2014 to May 2018, spoke to a crowd of hundreds of local union members and politicians in the parking lot of the union hall for Local 567 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, 238 Goddard Road.

“We’re also in a moment of incredible possibility and hope,” Madeloni said. “And it’s probably not an accident that those things are coming together. I think people are getting fed up and because of that I think they’re getting organized to fight back.

“This attack is not just about the current leadership, this has been an ongoing assault on working people. This has been about attacking our unions, about our collective bargaining rights, and about attacking our rights on the work site,” Madeloni said.

She has been a big name in recent teacher strikes for better health care and pay in Massachusetts that have spread to teacher strikes across the country.

She said it’s exciting to see educators and teachers across the country taking the lead to build union power.

“It’s about having a bold vision. We’ve been spending too much time letting people who want to rip us off and oppress us determine what we’re allowed to reach for,” she said.

Madeloni said the big things unions are fighting for now are single-payer health insurance and working toward ending profound economic injustice in the country.

“No more people telling us we don’t have the money for it. We have the money, we’re still the richest country in the world,” Madeloni said. “We just don’t have that money, they do. Let’s grab that money. It’s our labor that gave them that money, right?”

She said the most important things unions can do now are to organize collectively and act together. “When we are committed to that, we win,” she said.

Western Maine Labor Council President Linda Deane said the goals of unions in Maine are to ensure that health care is a universal right, to demand equal pay for equal work, and to reject all discrimination in the workplace.

“These goals are becoming more and more difficult and we are facing uncertain times,” Deane said. “But history has proven that when we stick together in our labor movement, we can win. “

Democratic gubernatorial candidate and Maine Attorney General Janet Mills and congressional candidate Jared Golden also spoke Monday, sharing their support for unions and labor work in Maine.

“Now is the time for stronger unions and a stronger America,” Golden said.

“I don’t like the direction the Supreme Court is going in,” Mills said. “When it comes to workers’ rights, when it comes to women’s rights, voting rights, any kind of rights, environmental rights, we’ve got to take it to the states. That’s why I’m going to be there. It’s the last line of defense for our rights.”

Andrew Robinson, district attorney for Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties, serves ears of corn at the Western Maine Labor Council’s 12th annual Labor Day barbecue on Monday in Lewiston. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Several hundred people attended Western Maine Labor Council’s 12th annual Labor Day barbecue Monday at the union hall of Local 567 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Lewiston. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Maine 2nd Congressional District candidate Jared Golden of Lewiston speaks to a woman attending the Western Maine Labor Council’s 12th annual Labor Day barbecue Monday at the union hall of Local 567 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Lewiston. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Janet Mills of Farmington, Maine attorney general and gubernatorial candidate, volunteers at the grill during Western Maine Labor Council’s 12th annual Labor Day barbecue Monday at the union hall of Local 567 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Lewiston. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Jared Golden of Lewiston, top left, a Democratic candidate for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, works the crowd at Western Maine Labor Council’s 12th annual Labor Day barbecue Monday at the union hall of Local 567 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Lewiston. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

People enjoy Western Maine Labor Council’s 12th annual Labor Day barbecue Monday at the union hall of Local 567 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Lewiston. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)


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