Fifty-nine and 23. No, they’re not today’s high and low temperatures in Maine Senate President Troy Jackson’s hometown of Allagash. They’re numbers that every working family in Maine should remember from this Labor Day weekend until 8 p.m. on Nov. 8. These two numbers highlight, in indisputable detail, the stark choice for governor in our upcoming election.

Fifty-nine is the number of pro-labor, pro-worker, pro-union and pro-family laws that came on the books in Maine under Gov. Mills’ watch. Twenty-three represents the number of laws and legislation pushed by former Gov. Paul LePage that served as a clear and direct assault on Maine’s working class.

It is for these 59 reasons and then some, that on this Labor Day weekend, the Maine State Building & Construction Trades Council and our 20 labor unions representing thousands of Maine tradespeople across the state, announced their unanimous endorsement of Gov. Mills for a second term in the Blaine House. And it’s for those 23 reasons that we underscore and reiterate our unanimous indictment of former Gov. Paul LePage as a danger, again, to working Mainers. 

When it came to working families’ issues, Paul LePage was an unmitigated disaster. Janet Mills, meanwhile, has presided over the most productive first term of a Maine governor in well over a generation. Of course, any good union leader’s word is only as good as their ability to follow through and prove it. In this case, we just so happen to have the receipts to do exactly that.   

Under Gov. Mills, our members – laborers, electricians, heavy-equipment operators, painters, plumbers and the entirety of the building trades – saw an administration who worked with them to find common-sense but effective ways to lift up the working class. From laws authorizing, requiring or incentivizing project labor agreements that serve to set benchmarks, boundaries and guidelines for wages and working conditions on affordable housing and renewable energy projects, to ones that protect all Mainers by requiring construction workers on public projects to undergo a basic safety training course, Mills’ fingerprints were on each of these initiatives.

Just like when she worked with the Legislature to fully fund Registered Apprenticeship programs after years of stagnation, ensuring that unions and businesses alike have the funding necessary to train the future workers of Maine. Or when she signed bills that equip the government as well as private individuals with the authority to identify and hold accountable low-road employers who steal workers’ wages. Gov. Mills also made sure to make the most of our taxpayer dollars when she signed the bill that required our schools, roads, bridges, infrastructure and virtually all publicly funded projects be built by workers making a fair wage, thus facilitating the economic empowerment of working Mainers across the state. How’s that for fiscal responsibility?


Maine’s building trades unions are not done yet, and neither is Mills. Sound, lasting policy takes hard work and a willingness to collaborate on solutions that all parties can agree on for the sake of progress. We know that issues like state licensure for construction workers performing dangerous work, raising apprenticeship standards, operationalizing the tremendous federal investment in energy and infrastructure, and clarifying state and federal construction wage requirements are squarely on the table in the next four years of a Mills administration. 

Is any of this possible with LePage? Fat chance. He’s the same old LePage, albeit perhaps a bit more tan from living down south the past four years. And, as sure as the sun rose high over his Florida home, he will be sure to add to his eight previous attempts at passing so-called “right to work” legislation: an initiative with clear racist roots that allows for workers to fully take advantage of, benefit from and utilize union benefits and protections without paying for them. If that sounds like stealing, it is.  

And what was one of former Gov. LePage’s first acts when he took office? He issued an executive order to disband a task force of experts working to eliminate worker misclassification and ensure Mainers were getting compensated for the work they performed. Citing “uncertainty within the business community,” his coziness with big business and hostility towards workers had a real cost to Maine taxpayers, to the tune of between $18 million and $36 million per year in lost revenue, according to the Maine Department of Labor. So much for fiscal responsibility. 

As we celebrate the contributions of workers on this Labor Day weekend, remember 59 and 23. Remember who has working Mainers’ backs on Nov. 8. For those 59 reasons and more, let’s keep Janet Mills in Augusta. And for the 23, do your part to send Paul LePage packing for good.

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