Maine Affordable Energy Coalition

ICYMI: Maine AFL-CIO Opposes Referendum To Seize Utilities

July 27, 2022
Contact: Willy Ritch [email protected] | 207-841-8400

Reporters and editors—I wanted to be sure you saw this press release from the Maine AFL-CIO—the largest labor organization in the state. Today they announced their opposition to a move to seize the state’s electric utilities to create a power company that would be run by elected politicians. The proposal would generate an estimated $13.5 billion debt that would have to be paid off by electric customers through higher electric bills.

In their statement, the Maine AFL-CIO said a takeover of the utilities would be bad for workers. Previously IBEW—the union representing electric workers in the state—had also announced their opposition to the plan.

Full press release from the AFL-CIO is below.

Willy Ritch


CONTACT: Andy O’Brien
207-542-4728 | [email protected]

Maine AFL-CIO Opposes Consumer-Owned Utility Referendum

The Maine AFL-CIO’s Executive Board has voted to oppose a proposed referendum to replace Maine’s two primary utilities with a consumer-owned utility, which Mainers could vote on in late 2023. Below is a statement from Maine AFL-CIO President Cynthia Phinney:

“Workers at Maine’s utilities work tirelessly to keep the lights on for Maine people and keep our economy running. Over decades, we’ve struggled and collectively bargained to make these good jobs with good pay and strong benefits. The majority of workers at CMP and Emera Maine do not support this proposal. They do not want these companies sold and thrown into legal uncertainty.

“If passed, this proposal would create tremendous uncertainty for workers at Central Maine Power and Emera Maine and result in years of legal battles.

“The proposal could also weaken labor protections and undermine workers’ rights. Workers could potentially lose the fundamental right to strike and be subject to public sector labor laws.

“For instance, if CMP and Emera workers are re-classified as public employees, they could end up being subject to anti-labor legal decisions, like Janus v. AFSCME, that could weaken their collective power to bargain for a better life. They could also lose their right to withhold their labor, a key tool of workers’ bargaining power.

“IBEW 1837 members have fought very hard for the rights and protections guaranteed in their union contract and they cannot risk being subject to political whims and bad legal opinions. For these reasons, we are standing with our brothers and sisters who keep the lights on and opposing this potential referendum.”

The Maine AFL-CIO is the state’s largest union organization representing the interests of some 180 labor organizations with more than 40,000 members.