WCSH-6 ran the following graphic, on Maine’s mill workforce between 1960 and the present. I saw it flash across the screen during their 5:00 a.m. newscast this morning before heading out for my morning swim at the Y.
The graphic and story looks like it was produced by the NBC affiliate in Bangor, WLBZ-2. The feature was a telling one and I grabbed the screenshot, representing the shedding of paper mill jobs, from their website, just so I’d have it.
This captures the story of Maine manufacturing—especially the state’s paper industry over the last 50 years-—as well as anything I’ve seen. It also represents a part of Maine’s past that’s disappeared and it’s never coming back.
With the closure of Old Town Fuel and Fiber, another 195 Maine workers have lost their jobs. This follows on the heels of Lincoln Paper and Tissue, which announced it was filing for bankruptcy the day before. In August, Verso Paper in Jay announced that it would be laying off 300 workers.
Maine’s perpetually-angry governor, Paul LePage, blasted the legislature, calling them “stupid.” Of course, as the smartest man whenever he’s in the room, he has a plan to revive papermaking in Maine. It’s all about energy, according to LePage. He says that Maine’s mills can’t compete because our electricity costs are too eye. He wants bigger gas pipelines coming into New England to drive down gas prices for power plants. He also wants Maine to change regulations so we can buy cheaper electricity from Canada.
LePage, along with natural gas flacks like Portland attorney, Tony Buxton, continue trumpeting natural gas as a panacea to all of our state’s economic woes. I wrote about the same issue last December for the short-lived alt weekly, DigPortland. The article remains archived on my freelance writing website if you care to read it.
Here is the video of Don Carrigan’s report that parallels the mill closing report above, also courtesy of WCSH-6.