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Augusta, Maine 04333-0002

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For Immediate Release

Date: 04/24/13

Democrats Say 'No' to Right-to-Work

Vote to keep Maine in economic Stone Age

AUGUSTA - Along party lines, majority Democrats in the House today voted against LD 831, a private sector Right-to-Work bill, and LD 786, which would have eliminated the union monopoly over bargaining rights for public sector workers. Both bills, sponsored by Rep. Lawrence Lockman (R-Amherst), have been the source of much public debate in recent weeks as they made their way through the committee process. Democrats said "no" to LD 831 by a vote of 92-53, and LD 786 by a vote of 89-56.

LD 831 would prohibit mandatory membership in a union or payment of union dues as a condition of employment. Several large employers have told the Governor and other state officials that they would only consider locating to the 24 states that have adopted Right-to-Work. Employers prefer Right-to-Work states for the flexibility they are afforded in hiring and firing decisions and the lack of onerous work rules often imposed by union bureaucracies.

The public sector version, LD 786, originally would have prevented state employees from being forced to join a union as a condition of employment and eliminated the payment of agency fees, or "fair share" fees, to unions. It also would have required public unions to recertify every year. Finally, contrary to opponents' claims, the measure would not require public unions to represent non-union employees in bargaining. This bill carried the support of former Assistant House Democratic Leader Terry Hayes (D-Buckfield).

To make LD 786 more palatable to Democrats, Rep. Lockman amended the bill to simply repeal the 2007 law that required the state to be a collection agent for union dues. Lockman was inspired by many public union members, some of whom he quoted in his floor speech today, who didn't want to support unions and their political goals, or at least wanted to avoid having their paychecks automatically debited to pay union dues. Unfortunately, in a stunning act of procedural censorship, Democrats silenced debate on the amended, compromise version of Lockman's public Right-to-Work bill.

"Today's result was not a big surprise, but the important thing is that we bring this debate to the public and make the case that there is an alternative," said Rep. Lockman. "We can either get on the right side of history and join the economic renaissance sweeping the nation or we can tie ourselves to the status quo."

Right-to-Work reforms are popular nationwide, and increasingly so in heavily unionized states. After the surprising passage of the reform in Michigan, a poll showed 50 percent of Michiganders favored the law while 45 percent opposed it. A poll conducted last February in Ohio, when the reform was being debated in that state, showed 54 percent support.

Rep. Amy Volk (R-Scarborough), Lead Republican on the Labor, Commerce, Research, and Economic Development Committee, which heard both bills, gave a rousing and informative speech in favor of LD 831 on the House floor (click here to read her speech). "There's nothing in the economic experience of the 24 Right to Work states that would prevent you from trusting in the individual worker's intelligence and good will," said Rep. Volk.

"Passing Right-to-Work legislation would have done more than perhaps any other bill to bring jobs to Maine virtually overnight," said House Republican Leader Ken Fredette (R-Newport). "It may take some time, but I'm confident we will get this done for the people of Maine eventually."


Opponents of Right-to-Work (RTW) say that it does not create jobs in states that adopt it, but:

According to the US Labor Dept., from 1990 to 2010, private sector payrolls increased 32% in RTW states, three times faster than in forced-unionism states.

According to The Mackinac Institute, job growth increased 71% in RTW states since 1980 and only 32% in non-RTW states.

Within a year of Indiana enacting RTW, 65 companies have communicated to that state's economic development corporation that the recent law will factor into their site location decision-making.

Opponents refer to the reform derisively as "Right-to-Work-for-Less" and say wages are lower in right-to-work states, but:

While it may be true that according to the raw data, wages are lower, when accounting for cost of living differences, wages are actually 4% higher in RTW states, according to the Mackinac Institute.

Wages in RTW states have grown four times faster than wages in forced-unionism states, according to the Mackinac Institute.

According to research by economist Dr. Richard Vedder, RTW states experienced a 23% faster increase in per capita income between 1977 and 2007.


David Sorensen
Maine House Republicans
Tel: (207) 205-7793