Right to Work - Chapter 3

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Maine Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Labor, Commerce, Research & Economic Development heard testimony Monday on six proposed bills that would seek to alter the relationship unions have with employees and effectively make Maine a “Right to Work”, or “pseudo-Right to Work” state. The work session for these bills will be today, May 6 at 2:00 pm.

Rep. Larry Lockman (R-Amherst) is sponsoring  LDs 404 and 489 and Rep. Joel Stetkis (R-Canaan) is sponsoring  LD 1351 – all bills dealing with public employers. These three pieces of legislation imply, in various ways, that the employees of public institutions not be required to join a union as a condition of employment.

LD 1319 is sponsored by Rep. Karleton Ward (R-Dedham). His bill would prevent public employees from collecting compensation on days when they participated in activities involving their business agents.
Sen. Andre Cushing (R-Hampden) is also proposing a pair of bills that were heard at Monday’s public hearing. The first, LD 1010, would exclude negotiations around the use of private contractors from collective bargaining proceedings with public entities. However, the marquis bill in question may be Sen. Cushing’s LD 1353 which is the only one of these six proposals to directly address private employer unionization and stands as a fairly straightforward “Right to Work”  bill. The legislation would, of course, exclude membership in a union as a condition of employment with private entities.

The hearing was heavily attended, lasting through the morning and into the afternoon. However, it did not draw excessively large crowds. Estimates placed the opposition, mainly composed of union members and officers, as outnumbering proponents of the six bills roughly “3 or 4 to 1”. The Maine AFL-CIO is expected to make a bigger demonstration of opposition on the morning of Wednesday, May 6 which will occur before these bills’ afternoon work sessions.