The rowdy timber town that Bangor once was spawned a muscular labor
movement. There were huge Labor Day parades, and even as recently
as the 1960s, the construction of such local landmarks as Bangor
High School and the federal building were stopped by the pickets
of dissatisfied plumbers. Even sandworm diggers went on strike.
Uniting this tough downeast labor then and now is what's called
a central labor council. Most local unions are connected to other
unions in the same industries in other parts of the country through
national and even international organizations. But they come together
with other local unions in different industries through these local
councils. So at a central labor council meeting a Steelworker might
have a Postal Worker on one side of her and a Teamster on the other.
Another way to look at it is that the central labor council is
the smallest denomination of a united labor movement: the national
AFL-CIO brings together national unions, the state AFL-CIO's bring
together state-wide unions, and the central labor councils bring
together local unions.
What's now called the Eastern Maine Labor Council (EMLC) is about
100 years old, and is an affiliate of the AFL-CIO.
It brings together 34 local unions-centered in Bangor, but stretching
from Bar Harbor to Old Town to Cutler-representing almost 6,000
Working with its close ally, the non-profit organization Food AND
Medicine, the EMLC has kept alive the fighting labor spirit of eastern
Maine by helping to obtain a union contract for local DHL workers
and to improve the pay and benefits of Eastern Maine Medical Center
staffers through a organizing drive there. Downeast labor solidarity
is on display each time money is raised at a plant gate for laid-off
union brothers and sisters.
The EMLC used to be headquartered in rented offices on Exchange
Street in downtown Bangor, but since 1971 has had its own building
just off south Main Street in Brewer. This headquarters was designed
by famous local architect Eaton W. Tarbell, who studied under Frank
Lloyd Wright. It was named one of the 22 best buildings built in
the United States in 1946. The site is on a bluff overlooking the
From this historic labor hall-called the Solidarity Center-the
EMLC continues to make local labor history. If you'd like to learn
more about the EMLC, call Jack McKay at 989-4141, send him an email
at firstname.lastname@example.org, or drop by the Solidarity Center at
20 Ivers Street, just behind St. Theresa's Church on South Main
Street in Brewer.