DEER ISLE, Maine (NEWS CENTER) --- Unions are a big part of industry here in the state. Now one major union is working to gain followers in Maine's lobster industry.
Since December about 250 lobstermen in Maine have joined the Maine Lobstering Union, which is a new branch of the International Associations of Machinists and Aerospace workers. That group represents about 5,000 workers in Maine including many who work in paper mills as well as ship yards like Bath Iron Works.
Directors of the new lobstering union say it should bring many benefits to its members, including access to healthcare and pension plans for lobstermen. Still not all lobster harvesters are looking to claw into the group.
"We are owners not workers," said Genevieve McDonald, who has been catching lobsters for nearly a decade, "so its unclear to me who the union would be negotiating with...the union has no experience representing fisherman and they have no past experience with the issues facing the industry."
"Here's the misconception part..they're not hiring someone to come in and help them," reamarked Joel Pitcher, who is organzing the union for I.A.M., "The union is going to be made up of lobsterman...by lobsterman and their efforts are what's going to make a change."
The new union is only open to those who catch lobster. To be in it, members have to pay dues. Union directors say much of that money would go back into supporting national programs to help the lobstering industry.