Two years removed from their last brush with Right to Work, workers in “The Pine Tree State” are prepared to fight the latest bill that looks to bring the hotly contested legislation to the northeast.
Following its introduction earlier this month, a recent meeting with the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development committee turned into a fierce debate as advocates and critics clashed on the future of the bill.
While state Republicans argued for the bill, ordinary workers weren’t falling for their rhetoric. The primary point of concern was that the legislation’s true purpose was to ultimately break up Maine’s unions.
“Because we stand together as a union and negotiate our contract, for the first time in my adult life, I have health insurance for my family, a future with being able to retire [and] a decent raise with working 40 hours a week,” said Josh Hartford, a union member from Canaan, to MainePublic.org.
With workers speaking out against the controversial legislation, union leaders across the country are commending them for their passion and activism.
“It’s important that workers of Maine let their voices be heard now,” said Richard Dalton, business manager for the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 18 in Ohio. “The only people who benefit from Right to Work are employers.”
Right to Work has been a polarizing issue in many states, with its effectiveness and true purpose frequently brought into question. The laws would make joining a union optional, and those who don’t become members aren’t obligated to pay dues in return for representation or benefits. Opponents argue this bankrupts unions and allows employees to be taken advantage of.
No stranger to controversy, Right to Work is regularly in the news as conservative politicians around the nation work to pass laws in support of it. In recent years, states that have adopted the legislation have been treated as cautionary tales. What little bonuses Right to Work does provide are typically far outweighed by the drawbacks. Optional memberships and a benefits-without-dues system causes unions to crumble without financial support. Once gone, companies can take advantage of workers with lower wages, longer hours and worse conditions. Furthermore, what little wealth comes back to employers rarely trickles down.
“We’ve seen it time and time again,” said Dalton. “Politicians and voters in Maine need to look at how other states are doing. Think about what’s best for everyone and make your voices heard before these laws are even voted on.”
For more information on Right to Work in Ohio, visit: http://protectohiosmiddleclass.org
SOURCE: Keep Ohio's Heritage
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