Democrats Resubmit Bill to Strengthen Collective Bargaining Rights

IN THIS EDITION:

  • Democrats Reintroduce Bill to Strengthen Collective Bargaining Rights
  • Republican Legislators Sponsor Union Busting “Right to Work” Bill
  • Union Members Join Info session on Paid Time Off Law with Commissioner Fortman
  • Nurses Are Organizing & Here Are 3 Ways to Help!
  • Solidarity Meals for Unemployed People in Bangor Area
  • New Report: Strategies To Build Worker Power in Maine
  • Upcoming Events: Pro-Labor Bill Gets a Hearing & Winter Institute

Democrats Reintroduce Bill to Strengthen Collective Bargaining Rights

The Maine AFL-CIO is pleased to see the reintroduction in Congress of the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO) Act, which would strengthen workers' right to form unions to improve their wages, better their working conditions and gain a seat at the table. The US House of Representatives passed the PRO Act in 2020, but an anti-worker majority blocked it in the Senate. 

“This is by far the strongest piece of labor legislation endorsed by a President in several decades. As a candidate, President Biden promised to sign the PRO Act and union members across the country intend to organize, mobilize and help him push this important bill across the finish line." said Cynthia Phinney, President of the Maine AFL-CIO

Currently, when workers want to form a union, they are forced to go through a complex and archaic process designed to allow employers to harass and intimidate workers who stand up for their rights at work. Most recently these unfair and egregious management practices have been on full display in the anti-union campaigns at Maine Medical Centerand Portland Museum of Art.

"Maine union members along with our brothers and sisters in other states organized, knocked on doors and made thousands of calls last year to elect a pro-worker trifecta in the House, Senate and White House to pass the PRO Act and other pro-worker legislation,” Phinney added. “Lawmakers gave us their word that the PRO Act would be a top priority. Now it is time for action.”

GOP Legislators Sponsor Union Busting “Right to Work” Bill

Maine Republican legislators have once again submitted a so-called "right to work" bill designed to weaken unions, drive down wages and allow workers to get the benefits of unions without paying dues. The Legislature's Labor and Housing Committee will hold a public hearing on the bill (LD 97) on Wednesday, February 17, at 10am. 

Under current Maine law, unions and employers in the private sector can negotiate contracts where all workers who benefit from a collective bargaining agreement share in the costs of bargaining and representation. LD 97 would make it illegal for employers and employees to agree that all workers who benefit from a collective bargaining agreement share in the costs.

This union busting bill LD 97 is sponsored by Rep. Billy Bob Faulkingham (R-Winter Harbor) and co-sponsored by Sen. Trey Stewart (Aroostook Cty.) and Reps. Jonathan Connor (R-Lewiston), Heidi Sampson (R-Alfred), Chad Grignon (R-Athens), Laurel Libby(R-Auburn), Rep.John Andrews (R-Paris) and Peter Lyford (R-Eddington). 

If any of these legislators are your representative please contact them by clicking the links. If you would like to testify against this anti-union bill, contact [email protected] or 991-7000. 

Union Members Hold Informational Session on New Earned Time Off Law with Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman 

On Wednesday, over 40 workers from more than 20 unions attended an informational session on Maine's new Earned Time Off law with Maine Department of Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman. The session was focused on giving unions a clear understanding of how the law works and to discuss collective bargaining strategies around the law. 

During the 2-hour session, MDOL staff helped answer questions from union members about how the new law works, how the program should be administered for building trades workers and how to avoid employee misclassifications and more. The group also discussed making a list of ways to strengthen the law so more workers see the benefits. If you have any questions about how this law or would be interested in a presentation for your union, please contact Adam Goode, [email protected] or submit questions to Maine DOL to[email protected]

Nurses Are Organizing & Here Are 3 Ways to Help!

Nurses have been on the front lines in this pandemic, caring for our loved ones and neighbors and keeping our communities safe. The nurses at Maine Medical Center in Portland have recently come together to form a union. Now it's our turn to stand with them.

Here are 3 ways you can help today:

Solidarity Meals for Frontline Workers & Laid Off Workers in greater Bangor Area

Food & Medicine's "Covid Meal Solidarity" boxes.


Do you live in the Bangor area? Would you like to participate in Food & Medicine's "Covid Meal Solidarity" program? FAM has been raising funds to purchase large quantities of meals from local restaurants and then distribute them to frontline workers and community members who are struggling during this pandemic.

For people in the Bangor area who have been laid off or lost work, we will be getting out these meals on Saturday, February 20th at the Solidarity Center, 20 Ivers Street, Brewer, from 2-4pm. If you know someone who would like a meal and/or you would like to volunteer to help distribute and deliver meals, please fill out this form!

If you don't live in the Bangor area, we are hoping to expand this to other parts of the state. Stay tuned for further details!

New Report: Strategies To Build Worker Power in Maine

A server at a restaurant in Portland takes a customer's order on April 26, 2017. (Press Herald)

The Center for American Progress has just released a new report titled “Strategies To Build Worker Power in Maine:10 Recommendations That Will Improve Maine’s Economy and Democracy.” In the report, the authors David Madland and Malkie Wall argue that adopting a series of recommendations to build worker power will significantly reduce economic inequality in Maine and improve jobs. These recommendations include:

  • Provide workers a voice in setting and enforcing public health standards.
  • Ensure that government spending creates good jobs and includes labor standards.
  • Improve workforce training by more fully involving labor organizations.
  • Create workers’ boards to provide workers a voice in determining minimum industrywide pay and benefits.
  • Involve worker organizations in unemployment insurance modernization.
  • Strengthen public sector unions.
  • Use business permitting and licensing standards to support high-road businesses.
  • Close loopholes that allow employers to skirt legal responsibilities and undermine worker power.
  • Implement broad anti-retaliation protections.

Read the full report here.

Upcoming Events: Pro-Labor Bills, 2021 Legislative Policy Forum & Winter Institute

Wednesday, Feb. 10, 11am — Vacation Pay Public Hearing. The Maine Legislature’s Labor & Housing Committee will hold a Public Hearing for LD 225, which would guarantee the right for workers to receive their vacation pay after leaving employment. Maine law does not provide a right to mentpay out of vacation pay at cessation of employ. Email [email protected] if you would like to participate!

Wednesday, February 17, 2021 – 12:00-12:50pm — President’s Lunch & Learn: Briefing on the PRO ActBring your lunch and join Maine AFL-CIO President Cynthia Phinney to learn about the PRO Act. Bill Samuel from the national AFL-CIO will be with us to give an overview of the Act; what it will do; and how it will support unions, workers, and organizing. Plenty of time for questions and answers. Register for the PRO Act briefing and Q&A here!

Friday, Feb. 26th, 9am - 1:30pm — Maine AFL-CIO Virtual 2021 Legislative Conference. This year, due to the pandemic, we have cancelled our in-person Labor Lobby Day activities at the State House, but we will be holding a virtual 2021 Legislative Conference for union members to learn about and advocate for pro-worker legislation. For more information, contact [email protected], 991-7000