Rep. O’Brien says LePage has ignored, belittled the unemployed
November 2, 2011
AUGUSTA – Rep. Andrew O’Brien, D-Lincolnville, sent a letter to Governor Paul LePage inviting him to visit career centers in Maine to learn the real barriers facing the unemployed. O’Brien sent the letter in response to LePage’s comments in the Bangor Daily News on Oct. 26 proposing to cut unemployment insurance.
According to the report LePage said, “We have got to convince those who can work that we need to get them back to work. Quite frankly, I think that might be a sign that we’re paying them a bit too much when they’re at home not working.” LePage also told Maine lawmakers in his address to the Maine Legislature last February on the subject of safety net programs, “Those that can work -- we will simply ask them to get a job.”
O’Brien requested to meet with the governor to discuss the comments after he read the news report, but has not heard back from his office on a date or time for a meeting. The enclosed letter was sent to the governor’s office this morning.
O’Brien wrote, “You’ve met with businesses and so-called “job-creators” in workshops and “red tape” tours, but you’ve made no effort to listen to the 50,000 job-seekers of our state. At times, your comments have belittled this group of struggling Maine people. I believe a tour of career centers in our state will help you learn the real barriers to finding a job.”
In September, the estimate of unemployed for Maine was 51,900. Of that group, roughly 19,000 people collect unemployment each week.
O’Brien said by that math, 60 percent of the unemployed job-seekers in our state are not collecting unemployment insurance. Unemployment insurance averages about $6.97 an hour, which is less than minimum wage.
“I don't know anyone preferring to collect what amounts to a pittance over a hard earned pay check,” O’Brien wrote. “Your proposal to cut the unemployment benefits for this struggling group of people, who are barely able to pay for heating oil or feed their families, is not the way to improve our economic situation.”
View letter written by Rep. O'Brien to Governor Paul LePage inviting him to visit career centers in Maine ...read Letter
Jodi Quintero [O’Brien], 287-1488, c. 841-6279