Final Right to Work Blog (127th Maine Legislature)

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Efforts to pass “Right to Work” legislation in Maine have been defeated for the second time in four years. Three bills that were able to survive on minority reports after being heard and worked by the Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Labor, Commerce, Research, and Economic Development were defeated in mid-June by both the Democratic House and Republican controlled Senate.

LD 489, a very conventional Right to Work piece of legislation, was sponsored by Rep. Lawrence Lockman (R-Amherst) who has aggressively championed the policy for years. After more than an hour of heated floor debate in the House of Representatives the majority “Ought Not to Pass” motion was accepted by a vote of 90-52. Eleven Republicans representing swing districts and communities with high union density sided with Democrats.

LD 404 (a bill to prevent public employers from acting as collections agents) and LD 1319 (legislation to restrict public sector union officers from being compensated for days spent on union activities) were also killed by slightly narrower votes when they picked up one and four additional Republican votes, respectively.

Maine’s State Senate is controlled by Republicans who wield a 20-15 majority and so it was somewhat surprising when LD 489 was also killed in that body with a 21-14 vote. LDs 404 and 1319 suffered similar fates.

Previously, the conventional wisdom to observers had been that the Republican Senate would advance an “Ought to Pass” minority report, the Democratic House of Representatives would adhere to killing the bills, and they would eventually die in non-concurrence between the bodies. It appears that strategically organized attempts to beat back the legislation, led by the Maine AFL-CIO, were extremely successful in identifying and securing votes from Republican state senators in high-union density districts.