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Gov. Mills Signs Law to Ban Mandatory Anti-Union Captive Audience Meetings

Andy O’Brien
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Governor Janet Mills has signed into a bill into law that grants workers the freedom to not attend employer captive audience meetings about religion or politics, including whether to form a union. Under the new law, workers can simply do their jobs and refuse to attend such meetings without fear of being disciplined or fired.

Maine now joins Connecticut, Minnesota, New York, and Oregon in having a law that prevents employers from discharging or disciplining employees who choose not to attend  captive audience meetings to discourage unionization. While employers may continue to hold these meetings, they can no longer compel workers to attend anti-union captive audience meetings or similar meetings about politics or religion.

“Workers want real freedom to organize and collectively bargain for a better life. This bill is a win for workers and protects our right to real freedom of association and speech in the workplace,” said Matt Schlobohm, Executive Director of the Maine AFL-CIO. "Gone are the days where an employer can discipline or fire a worker for doing their job — taking care of patients, serving coffee, producing goods, — and not attending captive audience meetings about politics or religion."

These mandatory meetings are held by the employer during work hours to pressure employees against forming a union, interrogate workers, sew division and disseminate anti-union materials designed to mislead and intimidate workers. These captive audience meetings are often conducted by high-priced union avoidance firms. It's estimated employers spend at least $433 million a yearon these anti-union consultants.

The surge in workers joining together to form unions in Maine has been marked by employers in our state using this very tactic of divisive mandatory captive audience meetings. There has been widespread press coverage of recent captive audience meetings held during union organizing drives at Maine Medical Center, Shalom House and other workplaces.

"We thank Senator Mattie Daughtry for leading the effort and sponsoring the bill and we applaud Governor Janet Mills for singing the bill into law," added Schlobohm.