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Union-Run Lobster Co-op Nears Opening in Maine

March 18, 2017 
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel

Trenton, ME - A union-owned co-op will start buying lobsters from Maine fishermen Mar. 18, if a deal to buy the Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound’s wholesale business goes through this week.

Maine Lobstering Union President Rocky Alley said Mar. 12 that he would sign papers Mar. 17 to complete the union’s $4 million purchase of the business from the couple who own it. “We’ll start on the following day,” Alley said. “That’s when we’ll throw the switch.” The couple’s son will stay on as manager of the business and its lobster storage facility. The Lobstering Union, International Association of Machinists Local 207, is financing the deal with  $1.1 million in loans from nine other Machinists locals and $2 million from the Bank of Labor, a largely union-owned bank in Kansas City, Kan. Alley said the union doesn’t want to change the business’s infrastructure, but does want to end the practice of buying lobsters for different prices in different ports. That “always drove fishermen apart,” he says. Instead, lobstermen who sell to the co-op will get “the same price everywhere, every day.” Those who are union members will also get a cash dividend at the end of the year, depending on the operation’s profits. “It’s money they’ve never seen on their own,” Alley said. Read more

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