The “Jay Strike Mural” by Andrea Kantrowitz is a familiar sight in Jay. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Left to right: Duane Lake, Chairman, OTIS FCU Board of Directors; Chris Bouchard, President/CEO,OTIS FCU; Samuel Howes, Chairman, OTIS FCU Supervisory Committee; Gary Desjardins, Vice Chairman, OTIS FCU Board of Directors; Linda Deane, WMLC Executive Director; Marcel Shink, WMLC Building Committee Member; Bruce Bryant, WMLC Member and Past Union 14 President. SUBMITTED PHOTO

JAY — OTIS Federal Credit Union has donated $5,000 to the Western Maine Labor Council, the organization that has purchased the Local 14 Union Hall at 6 Intervale Road in Jay. This donation will go toward building renovations and the preservation of the building’s historical artwork.

The Western Maine Labor Council (WMLC), formerly headquartered in Lewiston, is comprised of labor unions whose members work or reside within Androscoggin, Franklin, and Oxford counties. Knowing OTIS Federal Credit Union’s ties to the paper industry, Building Committee member Barbara Arsenault reached out in pursuit of a partnership to renovate the Local 14 Hall, as it will be WMLC’s new, more centralized headquarters.

Before the Intervale Road building can be fully utilized, Arsenault relayed that the rugs would need to be removed, the chimney repaired, interior and exterior painting completed, and bathrooms updated to be ADA compliant. She added that the WMLC wants to preserve the “Jay Strike Mural” located on the outside of the building, and that they also plan to add solar panels down the road. According to Arsenault, the end goal is for the building to not only be the new WMLC headquarters but also a “center for labor history and community learning” that “will bring new activity to the Jay area.”

After receiving the Labor Council’s donation request, the OTIS Federal Credit Union Board of Directors voted to donate $5,000 toward this project. Regarding this decision, OTIS FCU’s Vice Chair of the Board Gary Desjardins commented, “The Otis Mill, after which OTIS Federal Credit Union is named, was built in 1906. The Coating Prep department at the Otis Mill was the driving force behind the establishment of the Credit Union in 1954. This check is a tribute to the hundreds of paper workers who worked at the Andro and Otis Mills over many decades.”

The Western Maine Labor Council recently held a press conference, thanking OTIS FCU for their donation as well as others who have been involved with this project. “This contribution is not merely a financial gift; it is a powerful endorsement of the Western Maine Labor Council, Local 14 Solidarity Center, and our mission to preserve the rich history of paper making in this area,” stated Linda Deane, Executive Director of the Labor Council.

She also said, “With the Otis Mill being demolished and the Androscoggin Mill closing, leaving no active paper mills in the area, it is imperative that we preserve this heritage. The history of paper making is not just about industry; it is about the lives, struggles, and triumphs of countless workers who have contributed to this community. Your support helps us honor their legacy and ensures that their stories will not be forgotten.”

The Labor Council welcomes additional donations, as they need further financial support to complete the building upgrades and mural preservation. Deane expressed, “We hope that others will be inspired by the OTIS Federal Credit Union’s generosity and join us in our mission to preserve and promote our local labor history.”

If you are interested in learning more about the Western Maine Labor Council, or donating to this project, please visit their website

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