Unemployed workers plan Dec.3 protest outside Blaine House

A House member from Waldo County will address a group of unemployed Mainers in a protest Saturday, Dec. 3 in front of the governor’s mansion in Augusta organized by the Maine People’s Alliance.

Rep. Andrew O’Brien, D-Lincolnville, has been trying unsuccessfully for weeks to meet with Gov. Paul LePage to talk about the concerns of unemployed workers.

In early November, O’Brien sent a letter to LePage imploring the governor to meet with job seekers, not just job creators, to get a better sense of the problem. The lawmaker also took umbrage with LePage’s claims that people collecting unemployment insurance with living the high life.

In September along, approximately 51,900 Mainers were designated as unemployed. Of that group, roughly 19,000 people collected unemployment each week. That means the vast majority were not collecting unemployment.

O’Brien also pointed out the average per-hour rate for unemployment insurance in Maine is $6.97, less than the minimum wage.

Since the governor never responded to O’Brien’s request, the Democratic lawmaker took a different approach. He decided to host his own meeting with unemployed workers at a local career center in Rockland.

But that meeting never happened because the LePage administration denied access to the center.

Members of the liberal Maine People’s Alliance said they too tried to arrange a meeting with LePage and unemployed workers exactly one year ago and were unsuccessful.