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Verrill Dana, LLP

Verrill Dana, LLP is one of New England's preeminent regional law firms. With offices in Portland and Augusta, Maine, Boston and Stamford, Verrill Dana provides sophisticated legal representation to businesses and individuals in the traditional areas of litigation, real estate, business law, labor and employment law, employee benefits, environmental law, intellectual property and estate planning.  The Firm also has industry-focused specialties including higher education, health care and health technology, energy, and timberlands. 

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Friday
Feb152013

“Right-to-Work” Laws Reintroduced in Maine and New Hampshire

Freshman Maine legislator Lawrence Lockman, R-Amherst, a member of the Labor, Commerce, Research, and Economic Development Committee recently introduced two bills that would make Maine a right-to-work state.  The first bill proposes to allow employees to work in unionized businesses without the requirement that they financially support the union as a condition of employment.  The second bill proposes to offer paycheck protection to state employees who do not want to join a union, but are currently required to pay fees to the Maine State Employees Association.  In discussing his reason for introduction, Lockman stated: “I introduced these bills to help Maine compete for new jobs . . . . Half of the country is now right-to-work, and unless Maine joins this wave of economic growth, we will be left behind to pick up the scraps.” 
 
In response to the bills’ introduction, Don Berry, Maine AFL-CIO’s President (which represents nearly 30,000 Maine workers), stated: “It’s unfortunate that Rep. Larry Lockman is pursuing a divisive agenda that would lower Mainers’ wages, benefits and working conditions, Last session, the Legislature debated this attack on workers’ collective bargaining rights, and leaders on both sides of the aisle recognized it as a bad idea that would harm Maine’s working families.”
 
The introduction of the bills, and their content, is not surprising.  Last legislative session Representative Tom Winsor, R-Norway, introduced two similar pieces of legislation which died in committee in June 2011. Lockman recognizes that the bills face an uphill battle, but believes the conversation is still worth having.  In support of his argument that the discussion is worth having, he recently published an opinion piece in the Bangor Daily News regarding why Maine should be a right-to-work state.   Dana Connor, President of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, also does not believe the bills have what it takes to pass, in part considering the current make-up of Maine’s legislature. 
 
A similar bill has recently been presented to the New Hampshire legislature.  The bill, dubbed the Franklin Partin right-to-work act (House Bill 322), has already brought fiery debate from both sides of the aisle. The bill’s primary sponsor, William O’Brien, R-Mont Vernon, argued that “New Hampshire will be left behind economically” if it does not adopt the “benefits of being a right-to-work state.”

As we’ve previously discussed, we look forward to following this debate!

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