Members of the IAM Maine Lobstering Union (IMLU) will soon be able to net more of the profits they help create. In a groundbreaking move, last week members voted to purchase a wholesaling operation, a move which gives the fishermen a real voice in the industry while being able to track how the system works.
The purchase of the wholesale side of Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound, which includes a tank that holds up to 180,000 pounds of lobster, allows members to sell their lobsters directly to the union cooperative at market price, then receive a share of profits at the end of the year.
A cooperative like this helps close the wide gap between the prices fishermen must sell their lobsters and what consumers pay to eat it.
“This has been a dream of ours for two years,” IMLU Local 207 President Rocky Alley told the Portland Press Herald after the vote.
“This co-op helps us secure our way of life for today and for future generations. The members of the IMLU are extremely grateful for International President Bob Martinez, General Vice President Jimmy Conigliaro and the entire Executive Council. Their belief in our vision and the support they have shown has been invaluable to our mission.”
“This is a game changer for these lobstermen and their families,” said IAM Eastern Territory General Vice President Jimmy Conigliaro, Sr. “I’m constantly impressed by the tenacity of these salt of the earth men and women who are driven to protect their industry and make sure their way of life is here for the next generation. This is a prime example of how collective action works to improve lives.”
The members of IMLU have been fighting to preserve and improve their industry ever since their founding in 2013. They currently have nearly 500 members.