Congressman Bruce Poliquin talks a great deal in his ads and his public events about his previous work for Bath Iron Works. I have worked at BIW for 38 years. We need to be clear: he never worked at the Iron Works. He managed the company pension from Wall Street, making millions while sticking it to company employees.

Poliquin says that he had the privilege of “successfully managing pensions at Bath Iron Works.” That photo of the ship in dry dock in his ads? It suggests he was there at BIW, doesn’t it? But Poliquin worked on the pensions out of a big New York investment firm and doesn’t know the first thing about the callused hands of a skilled welder or pipe fitter.

Working from Wall Street, Poliquin created a pension system that denied workers a good retirement. He boosted profits for the company and made millions for himself at our expense. He made enormous amounts of money — money he used to fund his political career. A lot of my friends received pensions that were barely enough to live on.

During a recent visit to Bath, Poliquin dripped compliments about “the hardworking spirit of Maine” and the “essential role” BIW plays in supporting “America’s might around the world.” He went on and on about the importance of “this great shipyard” to Maine’s economy and U.S. military security. All of those things are true. We’re proud of that work. But for Poliquin to take credit for our work when he himself drove our pension into the ground takes a lot of nerve.

The men and women who worked and still work at BIW know our true value, well beyond being fodder for slick campaign speeches and advertisements. We just wish Poliquin did, too. We know that Poliquin shows his concern for us only when it’s politically convenient for him to do so. Poliquin’s pension plan meant pitiful contributions to BIW workers and no contributions at all for those who worked hourly. We dumped the plan decades ago and found a better one.

The difference in pension compensation before and after Poliquin is substantial. Some workers are now getting more than ten times the amount they would have received under Poliquin’s plan. Poliquin’s plan meant poverty for the “hard-working” families he loves to praise.

Poliquin’s disastrous record on pensions didn’t end with Bath. The financial crash of 2008, brought on by Poliquin’s Wall Street friends, caused huge suffering in Maine. Poliquin lost an election but got himself appointed as Maine’s state treasurer in 2010, as the state was experiencing a huge shortfall from the crash. As treasurer, he once again got his hands on the pensions of Maine working people. He blamed state workers and their pensions for Maine’s budget problems. At the same time, he took advantage of a tax loophole to pay almost nothing in taxes on his land, or repeatedly pay them late.

Now, Poliquin is in Congress, and his record has been more of the same. He has helped himself at our expense. Poliquin has voted to help his big-city financial friends, who have given him hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign support. He voted to let taxes increase on millions of working Americans to finance an enormous tax break for millionaires like himself. He voted to turn Medicare into a voucher system – chipping away at yet another program that retirees rely on. He has worked to eliminate financial regulations designed to protect Americans from the frauds and schemes that crashed the economy in 2008.

Poliquin wants you to think he’s associated with Bath Iron Works. As someone who works there, take it from me: we don’t want to be associated with him. We know Poliquin. He works for himself and no one else.

Glenn Burroughs lives in Lewiston, and has been employed at Bath Iron Works for 38 years.


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