Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

I grew up in a military family and joined the Air Force in 1971 during the Vietnam War. It was there that I became a peace activist.

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Day 20: BIW Lenten vigil and good media

Thirty-two people from all over Maine gathered at Bath Iron Works (BIW) today for the weekly Lenten Vigil.  It was very cold, windy and spitting rain during our hour-long time at the shipyard.

Bob Klotz again rode his bicycle all the way from South Portland to be with us (took almost four hours).  With a harmonica around his neck and a snare drum strapped to the back of his bike he made a clear reference to BIW's claim that this whole campaign to oppose the $60 million give-a-way to General Dynamics was all the work of a 'one-man band'.

I learned many years ago while working for the United Farm Workers Union that big corporations like Coca-Cola (that owns the Minute Maid orange juice brand with which the union had a contract in Florida for their fruit pickers) always make big mistakes at key moments that helped rally the workers.  This usually happened around contract negotiation time.  Such is the case here with this effort opposing the GD welfare they are demanding from Maine.  Their attempt to discredit me - as a one man band - back fired and was an insult to legions of citizens around the state who were helping to put this effort in motion.  So BIW's arrogance helped give our campaign a real shot in the arm.

At the end of today's vigil we held a news conference that was coordinated by Bob Klotz and two media outlets came.  One of the speakers in the news conference was businesswoman Sarah Lachance who did a great job making the case that the corporate subsidy for GD was unfair to other Maine businesses that have to show their need to banks before they can get operating loans.  GD has refused all along to open their books for review to show that they really need the $60 million they are demanding from the state when members of the Taxation Committee in Augusta have asked them to do so.

Earlier in the day, at 9:00 this morning, a very popular conservative radio talk show (WGAN) interviewed Chris Busby. He is the editor/publisher of the very popular monthly publication that ran the front page story entitled Ship of Fools: Tax Breaks for BIW, World War III for us.  I was super interested to hear how Busby would be received with his message of opposition to the GD tax subsidy and only one caller out of about 10 or so that phoned in supported LD 1781.  Even the conservative talk show host was clearly opposed to the bill.  This was a big deal and will go a long way in helping to further build the growing wave against this unfair corporate give-a-way.

Following the vigil MB drove us and a local friend to Portland where Bob interviewed me on the public access TV program that airs in that city - Maine's largest metropolitan area.  The show should be up on the air soon and we thank Brian Leonard for making that happen.

So it was a busy but great day and it feels like momentum continues to grow around Maine to stop this bad bill from being approved.  We urge all Mainers to keep contacting their state legislators.  You can reach them here.


Photos by Peter Woodruff


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