MAINE, USA — Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Sara Gideon added another endorsement to her growing list of supporters Friday. The Maine State Council of Machinists, which has about 5,000 members including members of two Bath Iron Works unions, endorsed Gideon.
The endorsement is a switch in support from Gideon's Republican opponent Sen. Susan Collins, who the labor group endorsed in her 2014 reelection campaign.
The group consists of members of BIW's Local S6 and Local S7 unions as well as thousands of other machinists across Maine.
“Our 5,000 members working in paper mills, public works departments, the lobstering industry, a law office, and shipyards deserve to be represented by someone who will be a tireless advocate for them – and Sara has demonstrated that commitment in the State House," Maine State Council of Machinists President Mark Vigliotta said in a statement. "We’ve taken particular notice of Sara’s support for striking members of Local S6, actions that speak volumes about her dedication to working men and women, and we stand behind Sara in her campaign and look forward to working with her in Washington.”
In a statement to NEWS CENTER Maine, Collins said the endorsement "comes as no surprise," and said it seems like the leadership of the Maine State Council of Machinists is "reverting back to their traditional leadership."
Collins' full statement:
"This comes as no surprise. The leadership of these traditionally Democratic and left-wing organizations is being heavily pressured by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to endorse only Democratic candidates. I was the first and only Republican to ever receive an endorsement from the Maine State Council of Machinists. It seems that the leadership is reverting back to their traditional behavior.
As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, I will continue to be a strong and effective advocate for the men and women who belong to these unions. The workers know that I am the strongest supporter of jobs at BIW. Since 2008, I have helped to provide funding for more than $16 billion in contracts for BIW. In the past six years alone, I secured funding for two additional DDG-51s to be built at BIW, protecting hundreds, if not thousands of union jobs. That doesn’t even include the additional option ship BIW was awarded in December 2018 following my advocacy. And just this year, the Navy awarded BIW $135 million, which I secured to help improve the shipyard and support BIW’s employees.
As a result, I’ve had strong support in the past from the workers at the yard – and I am confident that will continue."
The labor group endorsement is the latest in a number of organizations and labor unions that flipped their support from Collins to Gideon, including human rights powerhouses Planned Parenthood and the Human Rights Campaign. A number of high-profile political figures have endorsed Gideon as well, including former Vice President and presumptive Democratic nominee for president Joe Biden and Maine Governor Janet Mills.
Local S6, the local largest union at BIW, has not made its own endorsement for president or for U.S. Senate, but the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), which Local S6 is a branch of, has endorsed for president.
Meanwhile, Collins has gotten an endorsement from President Donald Trump, which Collins has not reciprocated thus far.
The Local S6 union did not immediately respond to NEWS CENTER Maine's request for comment.