As a staff representative for the United Steelworkers International Union, I represent many of the laid-off employees at Great Northern Paper’s plant at East Millinocket.

Our union is doing all it can to help the workers while at the same time supporting the company’s efforts to restructure. This includes urging the Legislature to pass a simple bill, L.D. 1792, which would have a significant positive impact for Great Northern Paper and its employees.

L.D. 1792 would allow Great Northern Paper to sell power a few times each year when electricity is in high demand, and when production machinery is down for maintenance. It’s called “load shedding.”

The law forbidding load shedding at Great Northern Paper made sense in 2002 when the mill and the hydropower dams on the Penobscot were owned by the same company. Ownership has changed since then and it makes sense to allow Great Northern Paper to shed power like other Maine mills.

Make no mistake about it, this is a jobs bill. It gives Great Northern Paper a chance to re-start and remain viable for years to come. Updating this law levels the playing field for Great Northern Paper in a very competitive industry, and it won’t cost taxpayers or ratepayers a thing.

On behalf of the United Steelworkers International Union and its hundreds of members who are anxious to get back on the job at Great Northern Paper, I urge lawmakers to support L.D. 1792. We should once again stand together as a state and do the right thing for the Katahdin region.

Duane Lugdon

Bradley