Politics

April 2, 2013

Two rebuked, as tempers flare at union bills hearing

A legislative hearing on bills to make Maine a right-to-work state turns contentious.

By Michael Shepherd mshepherd@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Rep. James Campbell, an independent from Newfield, castigates Sen. Andre Cushing, a Republican from Hampden, during a hearing Monday about proposed right-to-work legislation. The Legislature's Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee considered two bills that would prohibit employee contracts from requiring union membership or payment of union dues.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

Eric Brakey, chairman of the libertarian Defense of Liberty political action committee and a backer of the right-to-work bills, noted those contributions and accused Campbell of intimidation tactics.

"Who's he representing? The unions or the people of his district?" Brakey said during the hearing.

After Brakey's question was ruled inappropriate, Campbell fired back. "I'm not going to sit here for one minute, Buster, and have you accuse me of anything," he told Brakey. "Do I support the unions? You bet your life I do."

Patrick admonished Volk for a question she asked about labor contributions to the campaign of Rep. Joshua Plante, D-Berwick, who ran a taxpayer-funded Clean Election campaign and testified against the bills.

There are now 24 right-to-work states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Most of their laws were enacted in the 1940s and 1950s; four states have enacted the provisions since 1985.

Lockman's bills would make Maine the only right-to-work state in New England.

The LePage administration, through Doug Ray, a spokesman for the Department of Economic and Community Development, said the proposals aren't a "be all, end all" to economic development, but they would distinguish Maine as a job creator.

An analysis of data by The Wall Street Journal in December said right-to-work laws cut both ways: While those states have more jobs, wages are lower.

It said private employment grew nearly 5 percent in right-to-work states in the preceding three years, compared with nearly 4 percent in other states. But private-sector wages in right-to-work states were nearly 10 percent lower than in other states in the preceding year, the newspaper said.

The Congressional Research Service, Congress' nonpartisan research arm, cited similar findings in a report in December, including a unionization rate more than 50 percent lower in right-to-work states.

Michael Shepherd can be contacted at 370-7652 or at:

mshepherd@mainetoday.com


Correction: This story was revised at 12:15 p.m., April 2, 2013, to correctly quote Rep. James Campbell, I-Newfield, who said, "If all that stuff was so great in those states you just mentioned, why didn't you just stay there?"

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Today's poll: Union bills

Do you support bills that would prohibit employee contracts from requiring union membership or payment of union dues?

Yes

No

View Results

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