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Legislature Advances Compromise to Strengthen Labor & Wage Standards for Offshore Wind

Andy O’Brien
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Legislators, the Mills Administration, the Maine AFL-CIO, Maine Labor Climate Council, the Maine Building Trades, the Maine Lobstering Union (IAM 207), and environmental organizations have agreed on consensus language that will advance a major omnibus offshore wind bill in the Maine Legislature.  

The bill will responsibly develop offshore wind in the Gulf of Maine and encourage new deepwater port construction while maintaining strong standards to ensure good-paying jobs for Maine workers, protections for wildlife, avoidance of important fishing grounds, broad stakeholder engagement, and inclusive community benefits.

This compromise includes apprenticeship requirements and a ban on the use of independent contractors and temp staffing agencies. Most importantly, any non-union contractors on Maine's offshore wind projects would be required to pay statewide wage rates that unions collectively bargain with contractors.

The amended bill (LD 1895), sponsored by Sen. Mark Lawrence (D-York), was approved by the Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee last Wednesday and is expected to be voted on by the House and Senate when lawmakers return to wrap up their legislative session on July 25.

“This legislation sends a clear message that whether the jobsite is on land or at sea, this new industry will be built responsibly and be built because of, not in spite of, Maine’s working families,” said Jason J. Shedlock, President of the Maine State Building & Construction Trades Council and an officer with Local 327 of the Laborers’ Union. “Throughout the process, labor did what labor does best, and that’s work overtime to finish the job. We appreciate the Governor’s willingness to punch that timecard with us on behalf of working Mainers and look forward to starting the next shift together.”

The offshore wind bill that is moving forward combines two components to advance a new clean energy industry for Maine by setting a procurement schedule and building a port. It will:

  • Procure 3 GW of offshore wind power in the Gulf of Maine by 2040, supplying affordable, reliable offshore wind to power homes, businesses, and transportation.
  • Incentivize responsibly developed wind projects that protect wildlife and avoid Lobster Management Area 1, Maine’s key fishing grounds.
  • Set strong and comprehensive labor and workforce development standards for well-paying jobs and ensure inclusive benefits for Maine's most vulnerable communities.  
  • Support the creation of a world-class, Maine-built offshore wind port that will bring in billions of dollars in economic development.
  • Help meet Maine’s bipartisan emissions reduction targets and put the state on a path to meeting the proposed goal of 100% renewable energy by 2040.

The comprehensive bill reflects many of the recommendations of the Maine Offshore Wind Roadmap, developed after a multi-year process by the Governor’s Energy Office that engaged a wide variety of stakeholders – including representatives from coastal communities, fisheries, business, conservation, clean energy, organized labor, and state government.

"This legislation shows how far we've come as a state when it comes to our commitment to protecting Maine's iconic fishing industry," said Virginia Olsen, Executive Director, Maine Lobstering Union, Local 207. "We appreciate this collaborative, clear, and unequivocal demonstration of the state's stance that our voice matters, and that an offshore wind industry that fundamentally harms the hardworking Mainers that make their living on the water is neither in line with Maine's values nor welcome in Maine's waters."