Wednesday, February 21, 2018

17 People Have Joined A Hunger Strike Opposing Tax Giveaway For General Dynamics

Augusta, Maine -- As a controversial bill to extend a $60 million tax giveaway to General Dynamics’ Bath Iron Works shipyard is set for its second work session, 17 people have joined an extended hunger strike opposing LD 1781.

The work session for the bill co-sponsored by Rep. Jennifer DeChant and Sen. Eloise Vitelli will consider amendments written by General Dynamics’ legal consultants at Preti Flaherty. The amendments are intended to make the bill more palatable to Maine taxpayers, perhaps by breaking the $60 million over 20 years into two $30 million tax giveaways of ten years’ duration each.  Currently the bill is tabled in the Joint Standing Committee on Taxation.

Hunger striker Bruce Gagnon of Bath is expected to attend the work session February 22 at 1:00 pm in State House Room 127, but no members of the public will be allowed to speak. Gagnon will begin his 11th day of fasting as he bears witness to BIW executives and Maine legislators contemplating a tax break for a highly profitable corporation, one that paid its CEO $21 million last year.

Gagnon stated, “I’m 11 days into this hunger strike and spending a lot of time at BIW talking with workers.  There are many workers who understand GD’s fiscal posture and oppose this fat welfare subsidy.”

Opponents of the bill have published more than 68 letters and op-eds in 20 Maine media outlets.

All objected to Maine taxpayer subsidies for the General Dynamics Corporation, the 5th largest weapons contractor in the world and owner of BIW. Although jobs are often cited as the rationale for tax giveaways, letters have pointed out that General Dynamics has used past Maine subsidies -- $200 million since 1997 – to ‘mechanize and modernize’  the operation which has led to job loss.  And also that General Dynamics has used the money to buy back their own stocks driving market value higher.

Among those who have had letters to the editor published is Mark Roman of Solon, who also testified at the public hearing for LD 1781 in opposition to the bill. “I cannot stand by and watch Maine lawmakers waste money that could be spent on education, health care and housing for the 43,000 children in Maine living in poverty today,” Roman said.

People across Maine and from away -- including California and Vermont -- have signed up to fast in solidarity with Gagnon.

Many will fast for a day or once a week, but Gagnon has indicated he plans to fast continuously until after the vote is taken by the legislature. 

Solidarity hunger strikers:
2/22  Meredith Bruskin, Peggy Akers, Cindy Piester, Ken Jones
2/23  Connie Jenkins, Mary Beth Sullivan, Bob Klotz, Ken Jones
2/24  Cynthia Howard, Peter Morgan, Larry Dansinger, Ken Jones
2/25  Cynthia Howard, Ken Jones
2/26  Don Kimball, Connie Jenkins, Cynthia Howard, Richard Cate, Ken Jones

2/27  Barbara, Cynthia Howard, Ken Jones
2/28  Cynthia Howard, Ken Jones

A video made outside the shipyard gates: Day Six Hunger Strike at Bath Ironworks

Partial list of letters and columns published in opposition to LD1781:
No tax giveaways for General Dynamics by Don Kimball (Bangor Daily News 2/21/18)
Maine can’t afford to give General Dynamics more money by Don Kimball (Portland Press Herald 2/21/18)
No corporate welfare for General Dynamics by Doug Allen (Bangor Daily News 2/20/18)
No tax giveaways for General Dynamics by Connie Jenkins (Bangor Daily News 2/19/18)
No more corporate welfare by Ilze Petersons (Bangor Daily News 2/17/18)
Collusion’s close to home at BIW by Dan Marks (Portland Press Herald 2/15/18)
No tax handouts for General Dynamic by Rob Shetterly (Bangor Daily News 2/15/18)
Fear card by Mary Donnelly (Times Record 2/14/18)
Op-ed: An opportunity for choosing people over profit by Rosalie Paul (Times Record 2/14/18)
Corporate welfare for GD by Karen Wainberg (Times Record 2/13/18)
Safety on our highways trumps BIW tax break by Cushman Anthony (Portland Press Herald 2/13/18)
Corporate Welfare for General Dynamics by Russell Wray (Sun Journal 2/11/18)
No tax break for General Dynamics by Doug Rawlings (Daily Bulldog 2/9/18)
The Right Thing by Eric Herter (Times Record  2/9/18)
Tax break for BIW by Jim Anderberg (Lewiston Sun Journal 2/2/18)
No tax giveaways for General Dynamics by Leslie Manning (Bangor Daily News 1/30/18)
No need for Maine taxpayers to subsidize BIW by Mary Beth Sullivan (Portland Press Herald 1/28/18)
General Dynamics doesn't need tax handouts by Robert Hayes (Bangor Daily News 1/25/18)
No Tax Giveaway for General Dynamics by Mark Roman (Morning Sentinel 1/18/18)
General Dynamics has asked for enough money by Peter Morgan (Portland Press Herald 1/3/18)
No more handouts for General Dynamics by Dud Hendricks (Bangor Daily News 12/25/17)

No More Tax Breaks for General Dynamics and BIW by Lisa Savage (Kennebec Journal 12/3/17)

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