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  • Maine workers voice strong opposition to anti-worker bills in Augusta

    Ron Green, a Bangor Fire Fighter, explains why so-called “right-to-work” bills would weaken their organization and divide their team-before Maine's labor committee

     By Ramona du Houx

    Six attacks on workers’ rights and collective bargaining, including so-called ‘right to work’ bills, were heard today in Augusta before the Legislature’s Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee.

    “This so-called ‘right to work’ legislation does nothing to guarantee jobs. In reality, it’s a right to work for less in a race to the bottom that is crippling working people across the country,” said Senator John Patrick of Rumford, who serves on the LCRED committee. “How many times are some Maine lawmakers going to signal that we don’t value our working men and women? Because that’s what right-to-work-for-less does.”

     The average worker in “right-to-work” states earns nearly $6,000 a year, or about 12 percent, less than workers in states without these laws. Median household income, meanwhile, is $6,568, or almost 12 percent, lower, and almost 13 percent of jobs are in low-wage occupations, compared with 18 percent elsewhere.

    “Taken as a whole, these bills represent the most far reaching legislative attack on workers’ right to have a voice on the job that we have seen in Maine in decades. This is a clear push to drive down workers’ wages and undermine workers’ voices at work,”  said Maine AFL-CIO Executive Director Matt Schlobohm explained the way these bills, taken together, are a wholesale attack on the freedom of association. 

     Workers traveled from across the state to ask Committee members to oppose these bills, all of which would undermine collective bargaining rights and weaken Maine workers ability to have a voice on the job and stand up for better pay and benefits. 

    “These anti-worker bills are just another attempt by CEOs and corporate interests to end unions as we know them so they can stack the deck even more in their favor at the expense of working people," said Ron Green of Plymouth is a Bangor Fire Fighter and a member of the Professional Fire Fighters of Maine. “The question is why are politicians targeting working people?  The message these bills send is that firefighters, nurses and teachers are the problem because we want a voice on the job. Working people do our part, we keep Maine’s economy running and we should be able to have a voice on the job.”

    LD 489, LD 1351, LD 1010, LD 1353, LD 404, and LD 1319 all undermine the ability of unions to function, fundamentally weakening the rights of workers to self-organize and have representation.

    “Working people need to have a voice in this economy to stand up for decent pay and benefits and safer workplaces.  These bills will drive down wages, harm workplace safety and undercut workers ability to have a voice on the job,” said Jess Chubbuck of Edgecomb is an electrician at Bath Iron Works and a member of Machinists Local S6. “My union stands up every day to keep work in our shipyard and to make it a safe place to work.”

    “Unions are a check and balance on corporate greed. Workers coming together in America have built the middle class in this country. With wages stagnant and inequality soaring, why would politicians seek to drive down wages, weaken workers voices, and undermine Maine workers ability to improve their lives and their family’s future?” added Schlobohm.

    Similar measures to undercut collective bargaining were rejected in the 126th Legislature and also in the 125th Legislature, when Republicans held the majority.