I found Lawrence Lockman’s May 2 commentary, “Prohibiting compulsory union dues would be wise move for Maine,” somewhat troubling, if not flat-out incorrect.

Lockman seems to glide effortlessly over the history of the American labor movement and situate himself in today’s economy with no real context of past events or future possibilities.

When Lockman says he wants to “set Maine workers free from the shackles of compulsory unionism,” an observant reader can see it as simple rhetoric. There is no basis in protecting workers’ rights or wages, only securing a path to maximum profits for businesses that don’t care about Mainers.

In February, Mainers saw the end of the strike at FairPoint Communications. One of the major issues that led to the strike was the imposed contract that made it easier for FairPoint to outsource jobs to contractors outside of Maine. Not one person would say they were pleased to be on strike for four months, but the end result – a more secure future for Maine workers – was achieved by the union.

Lockman need not look far to see how Maine workers view right-to-work. In 1990, he unsuccessfully tried to break his own union at the Passadumkeag Stud Mill. Over 80 percent of the workers voted against him and against splitting with the union.

Right-to-work is an aggressive campaign to weaken unions and therefore collective bargaining. It is a policy aimed at driving down wages and destabilizing job security.

Ultimately, it is in the best interest of a business to pay their employees nothing, but a healthy middle class is dependent on union jobs that secure not only good wages, but also the right for those jobs to stay in Maine. That’s the right to work.

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