Maine House rejects right-to-work, dues billsBy GLENN ADAMS , Associated Press
Apr. 24, 2013 3:07 PM ET
AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — A right-to-work bill and a proposal to block public employers from deducting fees from workers in lieu of union dues were both rejected Wednesday by the Maine House, where opponents labeled both as anti-union and anti-worker.
The proposal to make Maine a right-to-work state, which was turned down 92-53, would have made it illegal for a private employer to require employees to join a labor organization or pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment.
The so-called fair-share bill, which seeks to repeal the law that allows public employers to deduct service fees from employees' pay in lieu of union dues, was rejected by a similar 89-56 vote. Both Republican-backed bills still face debate in the Senate, which like the House is controlled by Democrats, leaving prospects for the bills dim.
Supporters of the right-to-work bill urged lawmakers to make Maine the latest state to adopt such a law, which they said would make Maine more attractive to potential employers and improve job prospects for young workers.
"More freedom leads to greater prosperity," Rep. Amy Volk, R-Scarborough, said during the debate. "Right-to-work laws work."
Supporters also pointed to other states, notably Michigan, whose law was signed in December, that have adopted right to work laws, saying they encourage jobs in a new era of labor-employer relations.
"Workers should not be forced into paying for services they don't want and didn't ask for," said Rep. Lawrence Lockman, R-Amherst.
He added, "Maine needs to get on the right side of this economic renaissance."
But Rep. Erin Herbig, D-Belfast, took issue with the idea that the law will attract business, saying "it simply does not pass the straight-face test that a business would base its decision about whether or not to come to Maine" based on laws governing unions alone.
Herbig said the bill "undermines the rights of workers" and sets the state on a "misguided race to the bottom."
Herbig also led the charge to defeat the fair-share bill, saying that unions are required to represent members as well as non-members equally. Opponents also said that such fees have been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Supporters of the bill said they objected to a policy that allows government to be a "forced collection agent" for unions.