May 9, 2013

Another View: Anti-labor bills would have made Maine workers' situation worse

'Right-to-work' laws wouldn't have protected wages or improved working conditions.

By Daniel P. Walsh

In response to the recent commentary titled "Maine Voices: Maine missed an opportunity to attract businesses and jobs" (April 19), I'd like to clarify a few points raised by the author, Matthew Bucklin.

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Two failed proposals to ban mandatory union membership and mandatory union dues in Maine workplaces would have addressed a nonexistent problem while doing nothing to address the real obstacles to business growth in Maine, such as the state’s high tax rate and its aging population.

First, the two so-called "right-to-work" bills Mr. Bucklin mentioned, L.D. 831 and L.D. 786, would have done nothing to help the state of Maine attract businesses or jobs.

The state of Maine is faced with many economic challenges today, including its northeasternmost location as well as its sparse geography, aging population and high tax rate.

These two so-called "right-to-work" bills that died in committee recently would've done little, if anything, to help remove any of these obstacles.

L.D. 831 and L.D. 786 are misnomers.

They are "right-to-work-for-less" bills that would only have served to accelerate the race to the bottom that Maine workers are currently experiencing, while doing nothing to help protect living wages, just cause or working conditions.

Second, union dues are not "compulsory," as Mr. Bucklin also states in his commentary.

"Closed shops" were declared illegal quite some time ago. Workers today not only have the right to opt out of their union and pay no dues at all, they can even vote the entire union out of their workplace or switch to a different one.

Lastly, perhaps we should follow Matthew Bucklin's advice -- but make taxes optional instead of union dues.

If people feel that having a government with 24-hour police and fire service, paved roads and trash pickup is beneficial, they can choose to pay their taxes. And if they don't, they can choose not to pay their taxes and still enjoy these benefits.

How many people do you suppose would choose not to pay their taxes?

This is what was being proposed with L.D. 831 and L.D. 786.

Daniel P. Walsh of Saco is business agent for Teamsters Local 340.


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