The 125th Maine Legislature recessed in a whirlwind of bills. Instead of creating jobs to help Maine workers, the Republican-controlled Legislature created bills attacking workers’ rights.

L.D. 1913 limits injured workers’ benefits. L.D. 1894 repeals collective bargaining rights for child care providers. L.D. 1725 penalizes unemployed workers. L.D. 1333 allows insurance companies to charge higher rates.

L.D. 1207 eliminates collective bargaining rights for workers at DeCoster Egg Farms. L.D. 516 rolls back child labor laws. And L.D. 309, often called the public-sector right-to-work bill, is an effort to diminish and, if possible, eliminate the union presence in the state.

The attacks need to stop and Maine needs to move in a positive direction. I realize that unions are often viewed in a bad light. But before we allow the governor to decimate the unions that have fought and continue to fight for workers’ rights, please take a moment and remember what unions have brought to all workers.

Eight-hour workdays, paid overtime, weekends off, workplace safety, unemployment benefits, Social Security, workers’ compensation insurance, disability insurance, the minimum wage, health care/retirement (even if you pay a part), vacation and sick days, pensions and laws regarding discrimination in the workplace are all things that the unions have worked to provide to all workers by always placing people before profits.

The anti-worker agenda has gone on long enough. This fall, let’s take the time to know our candidates and send people to Augusta who will stand up for workers and put Maine back to work.

Beverly Harris

Freeport

It’s no surprise that workers’ compensation insurance companies like MEMIC and others lobby the Legislature to raise their profit levels while the benefit cost of workers’ compensation has dropped by more than 60 percent over the last several years. Republicans love this idea.

They also hate the idea of Maine workers having collective bargaining rights, so they worked against the DeCoster egg farm workers and the day care workers. In fact, they launched a full-scale attack on Maine working people to please Gov. LePage.

The workers’ compensation bill, L.D. 1913, was written by the insurance companies to provide a windfall for themselves by denying injured workers the benefits they deserve. Picking the pockets of injured workers by these companies will hurt Maine’s economy and hurt Maine families who are already struggling.

Two other bills designed to attack Maine workers also survived. L.D. 309, the wrongly named “right-to-work” bill, is a bill that was written to attack the collective bargaining rights of Maine public employees.

All Maine workers enjoy benefits such as workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance, overtime pay, the Family and Medical Leave Act, workplace safety, a 40-hour workweek and many more that were achieved through the collective bargaining process. It’s no coincidence that LePage began his administration by taking down the labor mural!

Finally, the Republicans also attacked workers’ abilities to get unemployment benefits when Maine companies leave or downsize because of Maine’s high tax rates.

Workers didn’t crush the economy. Big corporations and politicians did. I hope all Maine workers remember in November at the ballot box, that the Republicans and LePage chose to attack all Maine workers, while refusing to address the real problems.

LePage’s “Open for business only” sign should be on his office door.

Bruce K. Hixon

Bowdoin

As a reader, if you don’t like the column, don’t read it

It’s time I express my support for your newspapers.

My wife and I have traveled around this country for several years and read newspapers in many cities. We believe the Portland papers top them all. They seem to be improving recently.

I read complaints from some about a liberal bias.

But I also note that your columnists include George Will and M.D. Harmon. To those who do not like the columns by Bill Nemitz, I say, don’t read them. That’s how I deal with Harmon’s.

I’d like to challenge anyone, beginning with Gov. LePage, who calls our state government “corrupt” to be specific. Where is the evidence?

Finally, I want Nemitz to know I enjoy his columns. Some of the letters from people who don’t like his work make me think of the words of President “Give ’em hell, Harry” Truman: “I don’t give them hell. I just tell the truth and it seems like hell to them.”

Neil Tame

Standish

Youth obesity epidemic needs healthy food options

As a member of the Maine Public Health Association’s Obesity Policy Committee, I feel that Amy Dye is spot on when she says, “It is lack of physical activity and poor nutrition that cause disease” (Another View, “Children’s weight is not only factor in good health,” May 14).

This month, the Institute on Medicine released a report called “Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention: Solving the Weight of the Nation.” One of the report’s recommendations is for health care providers to use “routine screening of body mass index (BMI).” Other strategies include increasing physical activity and reducing overconsumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.

Occasionally, individuals who are screened can have a high BMI and still be healthy. We typically see this in bigger athletes such as football players, where their healthy muscle mass weight can throw off the formula that determines BMI. However, this is the exception rather than the rule.

The reality is, we have a youth obesity epidemic in our country and, when screened, most children who present a high BMI are not football players. They are children who are potentially at risk for developing an obesity-related chronic disease such as diabetes.

Children are bombarded with unhealthy food choices everywhere they go. As a state, we can help by ensuring that where we work, learn, live and play all provide healthy food choices and opportunities to be active.

The IOM report takes a strong position on making the healthy choice the easy choice by stating: “Governments and decision makers in the business of community/private sectors should make concerted efforts to reduced unhealthy food and beverage options.” There is a place in our diets for the occasional ice cream and chips, as Dye mentions, but not every place needs to provide these treats.

Amy Root, MPH

chairperson, Obesity Policy Committee, Maine Public Health Association

Hope