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: Brunswick, 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.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

House votes Yes on GD corporate welfare - to the Senate tomorrow

The Maine House of Representatives voted 117-31 today in favor of the GD corporate welfare bill.

The capital was a mad house as the AFL-CIO had their lobby day as did the Medicaid Expansion supporters.  BIW bused in a number of workers (paid to attend) who lined both sides of the entrance to the House chambers.

We had twenty of our supporters there who spread out - handed out flyers - and talked to BIW workers and others inside the packed hallway.

One BIW worker from the S6 union approached me to thank us for our efforts.  He told me he was at the union meeting where they voted not to endorse the bill and that he had voted NO.  He didn't believe GD needed Maine's meager funds.  

We learned there was some confusion inside the Democratic party about how the unions at BIW had voted. We got word to Rep. Denise Harlow (I-Portland) who during debate on the bill asked for clarification on the union endorsement question.  Rep. Janice Cooper (D-Yarmouth) stood up and said that one of the four unions at the shipyard voted in favor of the bill (S7 with 500 members) while the largest union (S6 with 3,500 members) voted not to endorse.  Cooper also spoke against the bill, saying, "The Taxation Committee asked BIW for their financials to prove they actually need the support but they refused to provide them to us."

Rep. Harlow also said from the House floor that the bill was "akin to corporate welfare."

Three Republicans voted against the bill while one Democrat (Rep. Alley) who told me three times he was voting against it actually voted in favor of it.  You can see how they all voted here

Once the House was in session we, along with BIW workers and others from the public, watched the show from the 4th floor public gallery that overlooks the House floor.  

Rep. Ralph Chapman (G-Blue Hill) was actually the first to speak about the bill and said, "We have a shameless request from General Dynamics".

BIW/GD had to crush us today in the House and they paid lobbyists affiliated with the Democrats to put the whole strategy into operation.  They used every trick in the book because they could not allow any organization - any group of citizens - to stand up against the corporate power of GD.

It's a new America where the federal, state and municipal budgets must be surrendered to corporate power on demand - even those corporations from the military industrial complex.

Eisenhower's warning has been smashed on the rocky coast of Maine.

I got a request from one Maine newspaper for a comment on the vote today.  I wrote back:  We thank all those who helped build this important campaign to stand against corporate welfare and in support of the many human needs that are going unmet across Maine.  We will not ever shirk from continuing to fight for the people who have been cast aside by our state legislature. 

Tomorrow the Maine Senate will vote on the bill.  We'll be back in the 3rd floor hallway from 9:30 am to noon with our signs and flyers.

Every time we go to Augusta more citizens learn about this GD corporate welfare bill.


Photos by Peter Woodruff (retired BIW worker)


Blogger Admin said...

Rep. Ralph Chapman is not an Independent; he is a Green. He should have a "G", not an "I" after his name!

3/28/18, 5:13 PM  
Blogger Bruce K. Gagnon said...

Thx for bringing that mistake to my attention - correction made

3/28/18, 6:17 PM  

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