About Us

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 local workers.

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 Penobscot River.

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 jack@foodandmedicine.org, or drop by the Solidarity Center at 20 Ivers Street, just behind St. Theresa's Church on South Main Street in Brewer.