“Right to Work” for Less, Veterans Resource Bill & Patient Safety Bills Get Hearings Next Week / by Andy O’Brien

Originally published in the Maine AFL-CIO News on Apil 28, 2023

Next week, the Legislature’s Labor and Housing Committee will hold three important public hearings on bills impacting union members and other workers.

Right to Work for Less Bills — Tuesday, May 2, 1pm

Republican lawmakers have submitted two “right-to-work for less” bills — LD 1636, sponsored by Senator Eric Brakey (R-Androscoggin) and LD 1707, sponsored by Josh Morris (R-Turner). “Right to work” for Less laws are designed to weaken unions by making it illegal to negotiate contracts that require all workers represented by a union to share in the costs of collective bargaining and representation.

Sen. Brakey’s bill would even make it Class D crime, punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2000 to enforce these contracts. A violation would also be subject to civil damages. Co-sponsors of the bill include House Republican Billy Leader Bob Faulkingham (R-Winter Harbor) and Reps. Tracy Quint (R-Hodgdon), Gary Drinkwater (R-Milford), Heidi Sampson (R-Alfred) and Laurel Libby (R-Auburn) and Senate Republican Leader Trey Stewart (R-Aroostook), Sen. Matt Harrington (R-York) and Sen. Marianne Moore (R-Washington)

If you would like to testify against these union busting bills please email adam@maineaflcio.org

Veterans Resources Bill — Wed, May 3, 1pm

LD 1762, sponsored by Senate President Troy Jackson, would require employers with over 50 employees to display a poster containing information on veterans’ benefits and services. The poster would be created and distributed by the Maine Department of Labor. The United Steelworkers union has passed similar legislation in New York. There is not an easy one stop shop for veterans to access accurate information about resources and benefits they have earned. 

Safe Nurse Staffing & Improved Patient Care — Thurs. May 4, 1pm

The Maine State Nurses Association (NNU) is strongly backing LD 1639, sponsored by Senator (and RN) Stacy Brenner (D-Cumberland), which would protect patients and improve health care by setting minimum, mandated registered nurse-to-patient staffing ratios. This is a major priority for Maine nurses, who have long struggled with too many patients and not enough staff, making it difficult to provide the best quality care.  Unsafe staffing also results in poorer outcomes for patients.

Andy O’Brien is the communications director for the Maine AFL-CIO, a statewide federation of 160 local unions representing 40,000 workers. However, his opinions are his own and don’t represent the views of his employer. He is also a member of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1445.