Bill would create unfunded mandate for unions in Maine
On March 6, 2011 At 1:00 pm
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The attacks on unions in Wisconsin and Ohio that have been dominating the news the last few weeks are also occuring here in Maine, and the first legislative salvo in this bill from Rep. Tom Winsor (R-Norway), LD788.
The stakes are high, and so is the hyperbole and misinformation. This is borne out it the very title given to the bill, “An Act To Prohibit Forced Payment of Labor Union Dues or Fees by Workers” by the Revisor’s Office.
Anti-unionists are spewing what they know to be lies. It is all part of an effort by corporate interests to crush the last vestige of a movement that fought for hard-won protections many now take for granted, protections that have impacted the bottom line of corporate spreadsheets.
Writing at Daily Kos, Mark Sumner explains why it is okay to hate union workers, and begins with this joke:
A CEO, a tea party member, and a union worker are all sitting at a table when a plate with a dozen cookies arrives. Before anyone else can make a move, the CEO reaches out to rake in eleven of the cookies. When the other two look at him in surprise, the CEO locks eyes with the tea party member. “You better watch him,” the executive says with a nod toward the union worker. “He wants a piece of your cookie.”
What this joke portrays is how the elites want to play regular working folks against each other, so it is important to understand three important facts:
No one in Maine or anywhere in the US can be forced to join a union as condition of employment;
No one can be forced to pay union dues as a condition of employment;
A union must, by Federal law, represent every worker in a union shop, whether those employees are members of the union or not.
About half the states, including Maine, allow unions to charge a “service fee” to non-member employees in a union shop. This fee helps to cover the costs of the Federal mandate noted above. Not only do non-union members enjoy the wages and benefits negotiated for on their behalf by the union, but should these non-member employees become involved in a dispute with management, the union will be their to defend their rights and protections.
Current Maine law protects a workers right to not join a union. Winsor’s bill would prohibit unions for charging a fair fee for services that they are compelled to supply by the Federal government. Republicans loudly complain about unfunded mandates handed down by Congress to state and local governments, and yet see nothing hypocritical with doing the same to unions.
Perhaps more surprising than the bill itself is the list of those cosponsoring it, which includes both of the Republican House leaders:
Rep. Russell Black (R-Wilton)
Rep. Rich Cebra (R-Naples)
House Majority Leader Phil Curtis (R-Madison)
Assistant House Majority Leader Andre Cushing (R-Hampden)
Rep. James Hamper (R-Oxford)
Rep. Dennis Keschl (R-Belgrade
Rep. Beth O’Connor (R-Berwick)
Sen. Snowe-Mello (R-Androscoggin)
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