In the News

Here you can find updates from the movement, news from the Workers’ Center and our national allies, and articles written by our members:

January 9, 2019: “Residents weigh in on plan to require paid sick leave in Portland.” by WGME

January 9, 2019: “Portland City Councilors back and inclusive paid sick days policy.” by Dan Nuemann, Maine Beacon

January 9, 2019: “Portland hosts public hearing on proposal to require businesses to offer employees paid sick leave.” by WMTW

January 9, 2019: “Dozens weigh Portland’s proposed paid sick leave ordinance.” by Maine Public

January 9, 2019: “Portland panel to press on with paid sick leave phan after dozens weight in.” by Patty Wight, Bangor Daily News

January 9, 2019: “Portland’s paid sick leave proposal draws big crowd.” by Dennis Hoey, Portland Press Herald

January 9, 2019: “Paid sick days in Portland.” by NewsCenterMaine

January 9, 2019: “Letter to the Editor: Maine lags its neighbor in offering paid sick leave.” by Portland Press Herald

September 4, 2018: “Supporters rally for paid sick leave mandate in Portland” by Tory Cairn, Bangor Daily News 

September 3, 2018: “Labor activists march in Portland to call for universal health care, earned sick leave” by Gillian Graham, Portland Press Herald 

July 1, 2018: “Society Notebook: Maine Initiatives celebrates Changemakers” by Amy Paradysz, Portland Press Herald 

June 28, 2018: “How Portland can stand up for the health, dignity of LGBTQ workers” by Osgood and Gia Drew, Bangor Daily News 

May 29, 2018: “Chamber, Portland mayor take simmering feud public” by Randy Billings, Portland Press Herald 

April 24, 2018: “Portland council hears pleas on both sides of plan to require employers to give paid sick days” by Randy Billings, Portland Press Herald 

April 23, 2018: “Getting paid for calling out sick: City debates mandatory paid sick time” by Lindsey Mills, WCSH 6

April 17, 2018: “Portland council to weigh law requiring paid sick leave” by David Harry, The Forecaster

January 31, 2018: “Portland sick-leave proposal to get rally-size dose of support” by Randy Billings, Portland Press Herald 

January 15, 2018: “Hundreds at Portland’s Martin Luther King dinner renew call to achieve his vision” by Kelley Bouchard, Portland Press Herald 

September 13, 2017: “Single-payer health care is gaining steam. These are the people who made it possible.” by Andy Baird, Think Progress

September 5, 2017: “Portland mayor’s proposal for paid sick leave heads to City Council” by David Harry, The Forecaster 

September 4, 2017: “Hundreds rally in Portland to support paid sick leave campaign” by Gillian Graham, Portland Press Herald 

May 24, 2017: “Trumpcare 2.0 is a Death Bill. It’s Time to Fight for the System we Want.” Meaghan LaSala, In These Times.

May 6, 2017: “Portland rally calls for publicly funded health care across Maine”. WMTW.

May 3, 2016: “India Street clinic closure draws criticism at Portland City Council hearing“ by David Harry, The Forcaster

March 10, 2017: “Fighting for Healthcare Under Proto-Trump, with Cait Vaughan”. By Sarah Jaffe, The Progressive. 

March 9, 2017: “Interviews for Resistance: The Opioid Crisis Is a Public Health Crisis Rooted in Poverty” by Sarah Jaffe, In These Times

September 17, 2016: “Penobscot Native Americans in Maine gather in solidarity with Standing Rock Sioux” by John Heinz, Blasting News

April 28, 2016: “Supporters Rally To Save Public Health Clinic in Portland” by Randy Billings, Portland Press Herald

April 26, 2016: “Why Portland Maine Is Currently Exhibit a in How Austerity Can Make Americas Opioid Crisis Worse” by Sarah Lazar, Alternet

January 1, 2016 : “New Year in Portland Brings New Fees and Higher Minimum Wage” by Randy Billings, Portland Press Herald

September 25, 2015: “What to do When Your Paycheck Doesn’t Come” by Darren Fishell, Bangor Daily News

September 22, 2015: “Wage Theft Allegations Fly After Portland Shop Closes Abruptly” by Darren Fishell, Bangor Daily News

September 10, 2015: “Portland sets minimum wage to $10.10, adjusts tipped wage” by David Harry, Bangor Daily News

September 8, 2015: “Letter to the Editor: Tipped Workers Deserve Higher Wages” by Nat Lippert, Southern Maine Workers’ Center member and restaurant server, writing about the tipped subminimum wage in the Portland Press Herald

September 2, 2015: “Wage theft allegations fly after Portland shop closes abruptly” by Darren Fishell, Bangor Daily News 

May 7, 2015: “Together We Will Find the Way: White Racial Justice Organizing in the Time of Black Lives Matter Movement” by Chris Crass, The Good Men Project, interviewing SMWC Board of Directors Chair DrewChristopher Joy

May 1, 2015: “We Have Each Other’s Backs: May Day Rallies Highlight Black Lives Matter Movement” by Nadia Prupis, Common Dreams

October 30, 2014: “Maine governor slammed over vetoes of expanded Medicaid program” by Sarah Jaffe, Al Jazzeera America 

July 18, 2014: “Beyond Obamacare: Health Care As A Human Right” by Tara Culp-Ressler, Think Progress

Our Coalition Partners

The Southern Maine Workers’ Center is part of a national movement to build the power of working-class people organizing for economic and racial justice. We work in local and national coalitions and alliances because they help members see our campaigns as interconnected, allow us to develop a systemic understanding of the issues we face, and enable us to build real solidarity between communities. They also provide opportunities for knowledge and resource sharing that builds power and strengthens organizing.

In Maine we are proud to be members of:

Nationally we are members of:

Our Healthcare Collaborative Sister Organizations:

Join the Movement

Will You Join Us?

We’re developing grassroots leadership that is powerful enough to advocate for and win universal healthcare in Maine. Contact our HCHR organizer, Mike, to learn more about any of our statewide HCHR work:

Join an Organizing Committee

The heavy lifting of the HCHR campaign is carried out by organizing committees comprised of volunteers who are willing to help lead this movement by mobilizing people in their local communities. We’re working to develop organizing committees across the state.

We have active  Organizing Committees in Lewiston/Auburn, Greater Portland, and Biddeford/Saco. If you live in one of these areas, join us!  If you live elsewhere contact us to start a new Organizing Committee in your community.

Invite us to do a presentation in your community

The HCHR committee is available to lead interactive presentations to groups across the state who are interested in learning more about how to support the movement for truly universal, publicly-funded health care in Maine. This is a great way to engage people within your network and to increase the reach and power of the campaign! We can develop customized presentations to suit different time constraints and group sizes. If your faith community, book club, community organization, or workplace is interested in arranging a presentation, please contact us.

Host a Story Sharing Potluck

One of the innovative ways we bring new folks into the campaign is through hosting Potluck Story-Shares, where folks bread bread together and share conversation about our personal encounters with the for-profit health care system. You can watch the below video to learn more about this approach:

Our Stories, Our Strength: Healthcare is a Human Right potluck & story share from Ali Mann on Vimeo.

Amplify our story in the media

It’s important for us to amplify the voices of ordinary Mainers who have experienced the consequences of our current for-profit system and believe we need a change. Regular letters to the editor, op-eds, and other media strategies are crucial for keeping HCHR a current issue in public discourse and inspiring new people to join the campaign. SMWC organizers are available to help folks interested in sharing their stories to craft LTEs.

The Community Pollinator Award

Every year at SMWC’s Annual Meeting we give Community Pollinator Awards to incredible organizations we’ve worked with over the last year. As a movement building organization, SMWC values collaboration and community building with other organizations. Community Pollinator Awards are given to groups that are not just doing amazing organizing their communities, but are also connecting the dots between issues. These organizations understand the importance and power of solidarity. Just like bees carrying pollen from plant to plant, collaborations like these make our movements bloom.

2019 Recipients

Homeless Voices For Justice

Maine Equal Justice

St. Mary’s Nutrition Center

Southern Maine DSA

2018 Recipients

Seeds Of Hope

South Sudanese Community Association

2017 Recipients

Maine AllCare

The Catalyst Project

2016 Recipients

Maine Womens Lobby

Portland Outright

New Mainers Public Health Initiative

The Neighborhood Housing League

Lewiston 21st Century

Portland Racial Justice Congress

In Our Own Words

Labor Day Parade and Earned Paid Sick Days Campaign Birthday Party – September 2018

Toward Justice in Health Care from Ali Mann on Vimeo.

Our Stories, Our Strength: Healthcare is a Human Right potluck & story share from Ali Mann on Vimeo.

Screen shot 2015-10-26 at 6.25.58 PM

SMWC members discuss the Health Care is a Human Right campaign on Biddeford public access TV program, “Out in Left Field.” Follow the link HERE or click the image below:

Share Your Healthcare Story

Fill out an Heathcare is a Human Right Survey Here! 

Click this link to fill out an online form.

We are collecting stories from people across the state about their experiences with the healthcare system. Your survey with help us better understand the challenges of the current healthcare system and what needs to change in order for us to have our needs met. The information in the survey will be used for a report to help build our campaign for a universal publicly funded healthcare system based on our human rights.

We may use quotes from this survey to highlight the common experiences with the current healthcare system. Most information will be used in a generalized way (for example, Holly in Cumberland County). Â If we want to use more details of your story will will follow up for your permission. You may also choose to keep your story confidential.

Please take the survey and then share the link with your friends and social networks.

Thank you for your participation!


The Southern Maine Workers’ Center is a member-led organization. Our members represent a broad base of Mainers who are impacted by injustice in the health care system and in the workplace. We have a multi-racial, multi-class membership that includes young and middle-aged workers, low-wage workers, people of color, white people, immigrants, and LGBTQ people. Our members work in a variety of industries, are retired, or are unemployed. Some of our members live in bigger cities like Portland, while others are part of more rural communities like Oxford.

Our members are committed to working together for solutions to the injustices they and their loved ones face. Here are some reflections on the SMWC community in their own words:

Elizabeth Capone-Henriquez

Elizabeth Capone-HenriquezFor me, being a member is about feeling connected, capable, and inspired. I’ve developed a sense of shared hope with people in my neighborhood, city and state about our ability to care for each other. With SMWC’s support, I attended national gatherings and returned home to nurture a deeper sense of connection between what we are doing here in Maine and people’s movements across the U.S. and beyond.

Peggy Marchand

From listening to folks’ stories, I’ve realized the vast difference between having health insurance and having health care.Peggy Marchand People desperately want and need access to good quality care. Their health care stories function as a journal of both human suffering and healing. Conducting surveys is collecting evidence, and the evidence shows that people want to be treated with dignity, whether they are in a moment of vulnerability or in a moment of strength. Every conversation and every survey leads to the same conclusion: health care is a human right.

Bill Lee

10947307_1010967705598444_677609299303343083_nI’m a member for selfish reasons: Because I want a community that’s fit to live in–where my neighbors can afford to feed and house their families, raise their children, and care for their health. Where they work not in weariness, anxiety, and exploitation, but in security, with respect for their rights and fair value for their labor. Because I want the honor of walking in the steps of my heroes–Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez, the women of the Lawrence textile strike, and so many more–arm in arm with friends whose hearts are filled with courage, hope, and love.

Natasha Nolan

unnamed-3I’m a member of SMWC because I believe strongly that my voice, my actions and my reactions are more powerful when joined with others who also want to effect change and be a part of a just and tolerant society.