FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Thursday April 2, 2020
For more info: Sam Pfeifle Phone: 207-749-0298 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @SamPfeifle
Today Lisa Savage, independent Green candidate for US Senate, delivered a petition to Maine Governor Janet Mills and leadership of the Maine State Legislature, calling for them to immediately close Bath Iron Works in light of the COVID-19 outbreak:
“As the COVID-19 outbreak spreads through Maine -- with 376 confirmed cases as of this writing and broad understanding that there are as many as 10 times more in the state population -- General Dynamics, the owner of the Bath Iron Works Shipyard, must close the facility immediately,” Savage said. “The diagnosis of a worker there on March 22 is a canary in the coal mine. As a state, we would be unwise to ignore that warning.
“Failure to close BIW puts the lives of all 6,000 workers and their extended families at risk,” Savage continued. “Further, as one of the largest gathering places in Maine, it puts all of Maine at risk, as keeping the facility open may make containment efforts for the entire state impossible. BIW workers return to homes in every one of Maine’s 16 counties.”
The petition has been signed by 200 people, representing 40 Maine cities and towns across the state, in just a week of circulation.
“In solidarity with Machinists Local 6, I call for all BIW workers to be supplied with an immediate paid leave of no less than two weeks and for the facility to return to operation only with a staff level that allows for social distancing and safe work environments until the COVID-19 outbreak is sufficiently contained here in Maine. Those who can’t safely return to work must continue to be paid at their previously scheduled rates. Certainly, General Dynamics can afford it, given the $45 million tax break the Maine Legislature granted the massive military manufacturer in the last session and the $900 million in cash on hand the company reported in its last SEC filing.
“As an example of what can happen should BIW not take this necessary step, one need look only as far as the tuberculosis outbreak of the late 1980s and early 1990s, where the tight-knit nature of the work environment allowed a nearly extinct disease to fester and promulgate to the point where nearly 700 members of the Bath community were infected with TB. What stands to happen with COVID-19, a novel coronavirus for which we have no treatments or vaccine?
“Until the nature of our current outbreak is understood, it is completely irresponsible, and a danger to public health, for BIW to remain open.
“Finally, this moment in time should be a reminder to us all that the time for manufacturing of weapons of war has passed as a viable industry for Maine, despite the way some of our political leadership clings to economies of the past. This global pandemic emphasizes for us all the interconnectivity of our global society and the folly, wastefulness and moral failure of war in all forms. We must transform facilities like BIW into hubs of manufacturing for solutions to the climate crisis, including public transportation, resources for the creation of renewable energy, and disaster-response vessels.
“BIW could transition to building hospital ships immediately, and the federal contracts to build them should be expedited in this pandemic.
“In addition, building clean energy systems would generate up to 50% more jobs than making arms systems according to research by leading economists. The two biggest security threats to the United States are currently the climate crisis and COVID-19. The Pentagon's contractors have long contributed to the climate crisis, and now they are dug in and hastening the pandemic's spread through Maine instead of taking care of their own workers.”
For further information on Lisa Savage’s plan to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, please see her policy outline here. Steps include a universal basic income, a moratorium on rents and mortgages, and a re-mobilization of the armed forces to respond to the public health crisis.
Find information about Lisa’s background, her policy positions, and where to donate to her people-powered campaign at www.LisaforMaine.org.