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, ME, United States

The collapsing US military & economic empire is making Washington & NATO even more dangerous. US could not beat the Taliban but thinks it can take on China-Russia-Iran...a sign of psychopathology for sure. We must all do more to help stop this western corporate arrogance that puts the future generations lives in despair. @BruceKGagnon

Saturday, August 08, 2020

Masked men at BIW

Peter Morgan and I from Veterans For Peace were among a dozen other peaceniks at Bath Iron Works on Hiroshima day (August 6).

The strike there of the Machinists Union Local S6 (4,300 workers) is still underway and I wondered how we'd be received.  Not a bad reception at all which was nice.  I talked with two workers for quite awhile and told them the story about Peter Woodruff who worked at the shipyard for over 30 years.  He was the one who made the sign I am holding in the photo.  Right after I told them about Peter I noticed he was taking pictures (including this one) so was able to introduce them to each other.

It was Peter Woodruff who started a petition campaign at BIW calling on the shipyard to build offshore wind turbines.  He was able to collect over 800 worker signatures which was a great feat considering they have at least four different job locations scattered between Bath and Brunswick.  After that he asked what could be done next and I suggested he meet with the editor of the local paper.  The editor at the time was a decent and honest man who wrote an incredible editorial congratulating Peter for his wisdom and courage.  The editor said, "Maybe it's time for the diversification of BIW."

Next Peter made a bumpersticker that read: 'Save BIW, build wind turbines'.  Workers put them on their cars and lunch pails.  Soon BIW sent one of their representatives on a tour of Nordic nations offshore wind farms that was organized by then Gov. Baldacci in Maine.  When the delegation returned BIW asked the City of Bath for a zoning exemption so they could build a tower in order to make wind turbines.

But a new governor was elected in Maine, a right-wing Republican named Paul LePage, who killed a deal between the state and a Norwegian company that wanted to create an offshore wind farm in the Gulf of Maine that happens to have the most wind capacity in the entire continental US.  Instead of wind power Gov. LePage (an agent of the fossil fuel industries) tore up roads throughout the state in order to put in underground pipes to move fracked gas to Maine.

VFP recently donated $300 to the union strike fund.  Peter Morgan has been getting me and a couple of others (including Lisa Savage) to hold strike signs the past three weeks as we stood on the picket line.  We'll be back on Monday once again and I will deliver another $300 check from the local group called PeaceWorks for the strike fund.

Even though we call for the conversion of the shipyard, to building sustainable technologies that would help us deal with the climate crisis, we fully support the striking workers.  I began my career as an organizer with the United Farm Workers Union - organizing fruit pickers in Florida and for many years belonged to the National Writers Union.  So it is a pleasure to be able to support the current strike.

Solidarity forever!



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