“If you like your union, you can keep your union.” – Right to Work Bills Get Public Hearing
Augusta – Members of the business community and those working to attract business to Maine testified before the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee on four bills aimed at putting an end to forced unionism in Maine. These bills, known as “right to work” bills, could be a monumental step toward achieving our goal of bringing more businesses, capital investments and at the end of the day good paying jobs to Maine.
The underlying principle of right to work legislation is simple. It’s about personal freedom and individual liberty. Workers should not be forced to pay for something they don’t want and didn’t ask for.
The line of the day came from Julie Rabinowitz of the Maine Department of Labor when she told the audience: “If you like your union, you can keep your union.”
Rep. Larry Lockman (R) of Amherst is the House Republican Lead on the LCRED Committee and is the sponsor on 2 of the 5 bills.
Under current Maine law, employees who have never requested union representation can be forced to accept a labor union as their exclusive bargaining agent. Then, adding insult to injury, they can be forced to pay for representation they never requested and do not want. That’s because federal law allows labor unions to engage in monopoly bargaining in workplaces where a simple majority of workers have requested union representation.
During the hearings, Rep. Lockman referenced the completely absurd union regulations that played a major role in Hostess, a billion dollar corporation going under, costing 500 jobs in Maine.
“Hostess Brands was driven into bankruptcy in large measure because union bosses wouldn’t budge on work rules that required cake and bread products to be delivered to a single retail site using two separate trucks; the Teamsters decreed that Twinkies and Wonder Bread couldn’t ride on the same truck. Drivers weren’t allowed to load their own trucks, and the workers who loaded bread weren’t allowed to load cake. A sweets driver serving a 7-11 store was forbidden from restocking shelves with bread products already delivered and waiting in the back; he had to call for a bread driver to swing by to handle that task. Union-mandated restrictions on the company’s 5,500 distribution routes nationally made it unprofitable for Hostess to serve tiny outlets, yet the company was barred from using smaller, more streamlined – and nonunion – distributors. Let’s set Maine workers free from the shackles of compulsory unionism, and make our great state the first in New England to become a magnet for liberty-loving entrepreneurs and good-paying jobs,” Rep. Lockman told the committee.
A work session on these bills is scheduled for Wednesday.
Some important things to consider during the right to work debate:
1. 11 of the top 16 states on Forbes Magazine’s “Best States for Business and Careers” are right to work states.
2. Maine would be the first state in New England to pass right to work legislation giving us a competitive advantage economically over other states.
3. Back in 2012, Indiana became the 23rd right to work state and Governor Mitch Daniels, who signed it into law, said businesses immediately took notice:
“I may have underestimated the immediacy of this law’s impact. We have had a flood of calls and inquiries, starting literally the day I signed the bill. We began hearing from companies we had not heard from. We’re keeping a list, because this may be important information for experts in the site selection business at some point. We’re in active conversations now with more than 10 companies with whom we had no contact just 12 days ago [prior to signing the bill]. They have communicated very overtly that they are in touch with us because of this new law,” Governor Daniels told Site Selection magazine.
The 4 House Republican bills to be considered are:
1. LD 404 – An Act To Prohibit Public Employers from Acting as Collection Agents for Labor Unions
Sponsored by Rep. Larry Lockman:
Current law allows a public employer to deduct service fees owed by an employee to a collective bargaining agent pursuant to a lawful collective bargaining agreement. This bill prohibits a public employer from collecting those fees or collecting member dues.
2. LD 489 – An Act To Ensure the Right To Work without Payment of Dues or Fees to a Labor Union as a Condition of Employment
Sponsored by Rep. Larry Lockman:
This bill prohibits a person, including a public employee, an employee of the University of Maine System, the Maine Maritime Academy or the Maine Community College System and an employee of the judicial branch, from being required to join a labor organization or pay any labor organization dues or fees as a condition of employment or continuation of employment, notwithstanding any state law to the contrary. A violation is a Class D crime and is also subject to civil damages and injunctive relief. The Attorney General is responsible for enforcement and is required to prosecute all violations.
3. LD 1319 – An Act To Ensure That Wages and Benefits of Maine State Employees Serve a Public Purpose
Sponsor: Rep. Karl Ward (R) Dedham
This bill prohibits a public employer from compensating an employee covered under public sector collective bargaining laws for participating in an activity involving the employee’s collective bargaining agent, except through regularly accrued vacation or compensatory time.
4. LD 1351 An Act To Ensure that Membership of Public Employees in Unions is Voluntary
Sponsor: Rep. Joel Stetkis (R) Canaan
This bill amends the State’s labor laws to ensure that each public sector union represents only those public employees who voluntarily are members of that union. This bill also requires a public employee union annually to determine or certify the bargaining agent for that union.