AUGUSTA – 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.
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.
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.
Ron Green of Plymouth is a Bangor Fire Fighter and a member of the Professional Fire Fighters of Maine. He testified against all six bills.
“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.”
He went on, “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.”
Jess Chubbuck of Edgecomb is an electrician at Bath Iron Works and a member of Machinists Local S6. She testified today against all six bills that would weaken collective bargaining rights.
“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,” she said. “My union stands up every day to keep work in our shipyard and to make it a safe place to work.”
Maine AFL-CIO Executive Director Matt Schlobohm of Greene explained the way these bills, taken together, are a wholesale attack on the freedom of association.
“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,” Schlobohm said.
Annual wages in states with these laws are $1558 lower for a typical full time worker, according to the recent April 22nd report by the Economic Policy Institute.
“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?” Schlobohm continued.
Justin Walsh, an electrician from Portland and member of IBEW 567, testified against all of the bills.
“My union and the companies who work with us run an amazing, jointly run apprenticeship program. I was fortunate to go through this program and graduated in 2012. It gave me a great education, a good career and the ability to support my family. For my five year apprenticeship program, the only cost was that we had to pay for our books. It doesn’t make sense to me that you want to pass a law that someone could get an amazing five year education and all the other benefits that our union provides and not have to contribute anything. Not have to even pay dues. That just seems wrong to me,” Walsh said.