Rep. Bruce Poliquin is running TV ads to try to convince you he’s on the side of working people such as the shipbuilders at Bath Iron Works. He’s not. I worked at Bath Iron Works for 31 years, and we shipbuilders need you to know that Poliquin is not on our side. He’s not on your side. He’s only on his own side.
It’s no surprise that Poliquin wants voters to think that he is associated with the hard-working men and women at Bath Iron Works. But here’s the truth: He has proven time and time again that he only cares for working people when it’s politically convenient.
The issue at hand is pensions, and it’s an important one. Public and private workers across Maine depend on having a secure retirement. But Poliquin’s history on pensions tells a different story than his slick campaign ads do. Poliquin left Maine decades ago. He worked at banks and hedge funds, and made millions as a Wall Street mutual fund manager. It was during that period that he “managed” pensions for Bath Iron Works. He references that work in his ads.
What he doesn’t mention is that he managed our pensions in a way to rob us of a fair retirement. Poliquin’s management meant pathetic contributions to Bath Iron Works’ employees, and no contributions at all to those of us who were hourly. In 1994, the union said “Enough,” and we switched to a new plan.
Story continues below advertisement.
Here’s the difference: For my 12 years of work under the “Poliquin plan,” I get $160 a month — barely enough to cover Medicare Part B. For my 19 years under the new plan, I get nearly 10 times the amount.
In 2010, Poliquin was appointed as state treasurer after his failed campaign for governor. The economy was in shambles, the result of the financial crash brought on by the reckless behavior of Wall Street hedge funds and big banks.
The fault may have been down in New York, but people here in Maine took it in the teeth. The banks got taxpayer-funded bailouts, their executives took home millions of dollars in bonuses, and the rest of us lost retirements, jobs and homes. As treasurer, Poliquin was in charge of Maine’s state worker pensions, and those pensions got hit hard. Working families needed help. But like at Bath Iron Works, Poliquin viciously attacked the pensions, and blamed workers — not Wall Street — for crashing the state budget.
Poliquin targeted our neighbors, friends and families. If you think the problems with our economy are the fault of teachers, firefighters, game wardens, and the men and women who get up at 2 a.m. to plow our roads during the winter, Poliquin’s your guy.
Poliquin never fails to turn down a photo-op or a media opportunity here at Bath Iron Works. But down in Washington, he has time and time again failed to help working families. Instead, he has supported Wall Street and big-bank special interests. Maybe that’s because they have given him more than $750,000.
Poliquin heard that message. He voted for an austere budget bill last year that would have raised taxes on millions of working Americans while giving a massive tax break for millionaires like himself, and that same budget would have turned Medicare into a voucher system, meaning big private profits paid for by the rest of us. He has voted to strip away the financial regulations that protect us from financial scams and risky investments. His actions would give Wall Street free reign to crash the economy all over again.
Now, as he runs for re-election, he’s trying to convince us that none of that matters. It does. He’s not one of us. He wasn’t on our side back then, and he’s not on our side now.
Ralph Hilton is a retired worker from Bath Iron Works and member of the Local S6 of the machinist union. He lives in Alna.