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Rep. Lawrence Lockman (R-Amherst)
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For Immediate Release

Date: 04/05/13

LCRED Reports "Ought Not to Pass" on Forced Unionism Reform Bill

Lockman amendment silenced in stunning display of procedural censorship

AUGUSTA - On party lines, the Legislature's Labor, Commerce, Research, and Economic Development Committee today voted "ought not to pass" on LD 786, the so-called public right-to-work bill introduced by Rep. Lawrence Lockman (R-Amherst). Lockman had prepared an amendment which would have replaced the bill and simply repeal the 2007 law that made state government a collection agent for the Maine State Employees' Association (MSEA) and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).

The original version of LD 786, which the committee voted on, would have eliminated the requirement that employees who decline union membership must still pay union dues.

"It was clear that my Democratic colleagues were not going to vote for the original bill, so I attempted to find a compromise that would create some level of separation between state government and the unions," said Lockman. "My amendment didn't end the unions' corporate monopoly as bargaining agent for state employees, but it at least would have broken up the cozy relationship that's evolved between state government and the unions."

Lockman says his amended version of the bill would have put the unions in the same position as any other corporation that relies on membership dues, and that state workers can still elect to have their union dues deducted from their paychecks if they wish.

"The unions survived for decades without mandatory withholding, so this shouldn't hurt them," he continued. "If state workers don't want to have dues automatically taken out of their paychecks, they should be able to opt out and pay them on their own accord."

In testimony before the committee, union representatives had expressed concern that workers may not pay unless forced to do so through automatic deduction. "I think it's a really cynical view that state workers won't pay their bills unless the union forces them to do so," added Lockman.

In a shocking display of procedural bullying, when the bill came up for consideration in the committee's work session, Senator John Patrick (D-Oxford), the committee's senate chair, immediately made an "ought not to pass" motion without any discussion and before Lockman could present his amended version of the bill. The action not only prevented discussion of the original bill and its amended version, but ensured that the amended version would not be debated on the House and Senate floors.

The parliamentary maneuver surprised original bill co-sponsor and former Assistant House Democratic Leader Rep. Theresea Hayes (D-Buckfield). "If one's position is strong, it will withstand a dialogue about alternatives, and that dialogue didn't happen," said Hayes.

Lockman was also taken aback by the move.

"I was surprised and disappointed that Chairman Patrick went to such lengths to shut down my amendment and do whatever he could to prevent a debate in the committee or on the floor," he said. "The unions' influence over the legislative process was made clear today."

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Maine House Republicans
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