Union group joins small businesses, associations, and thousands of Mainers
November 30, 2022
For immediate release
Contact: Willy Ritch 207-841-8400
The 6,000 member Maine State Building and Construction Trades Council announced this week they are joining labor unions, business groups, small businesses, and thousands of individual Mainers in opposing the seizure of CMP and Versant to create a utility run by politicians.
Supporters of a proposal to take over the state’s utilities want to replace them with Pine Tree Power, a “quasi-government” authority run by elected politicians and financed by an estimated $13.5 billion in debt that electric customers would have to pay back.
“Our affiliated unions work every day to build and grow Maine and its middle class. We heard all sides of the issue. We appreciated a thoughtful and lively debate. But in the end, there was little doubt that the proposed takeover of our power grid would not only cost Maine taxpayers $13.5 billion but also functionally cost workers their voice on the job,” said Jason J. Shedlock, President of the Maine State Building & Construction Trades Council and Regional Organizer with the Laborers’ International Union.
The group joins other labor organizations and unions, including the Maine AFL-CIO, IBEW and the International Brother of Teamsters Local 340 in opposing a referendum on seizing the state’s utilities.
Opposition to the proposal is widespread and non-partisan. The Maine State Chamber of Commerce and the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine have also come out against the proposal, as well as 65 businesses and organizations like Hospitality Maine, Barber Foods, Governors Restaurants, VIP Tour Bus and Charter, Gritty McDuffs and dozens of others who are part of the Maine Affordable Energy Coalition.
Randy Wadleigh, owner of six Governors Restaurants across the state, said as a small business owner, he’s against the proposal because of the cost and the uncertainty it would bring.
“This referendum to use eminent domain to seize CMP and Versant is not only expensive, it’s risky,” he said. “Inserting politics into the running of the grid is a terrible idea. The people in charge of keeping the lights on shouldn’t be worried about where their next campaign contribution is coming from.”
Meanwhile the No Blank Checks campaign announced they collected additional signatures on Election Day to put their proposal to a state-wide vote next November. The proposal, which would require that voters approve any new government debt of over $1 billion, has been opposed by the Pine Tree Power campaign. Although Pine Tree Power campaign officials tried to convince voters not to sign the petition on Election Day, nearly 12,000 did, bringing the total signatures collected to 103,915. To put a referendum on a statewide vote, 63,067 valid signatures are required.
Willy Ritch, who runs the No Blank Checks campaign and Maine Affordable Energy, said they had collected enough signatures by early November to put the issue on the ballot next year, but decided to use Election Day to collect more.
“We have a couple more months before we have to turn in our signatures for No Blank Checks and it became clear that state officials were pretty busy processing other petitions, so we decided to wait a few more weeks and take the opportunity to talk to more voters and collect some more signatures,” Ritch said.