AUGUSTA – Democratic lawmakers on Friday used procedural tricks to kill a bipartisan proposal to protect Maine state workers from the state-abetted wage garnishment on behalf of government workers unions.
Rep. Lawrence E. Lockman (R-Amherst), lead sponsor of L.D. 786, An Act To Ensure the Voluntary Membership of Public Employees in Unions, said Sen. John L. Patrick (D-Rumford), Co-chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Labor, Commerce, and Economic Development (LCRED), motioned to close debate during Friday’s work session before it even began.
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Lockman said Patrick’s decision to silence discussion on his bill prevented him from introducing an amendment he had crafted with the bill’s co-sponsors, including Assistant House Majority Leader Rep. Theresea M. Hayes (D-Buckfield).
“I told Terry Hayes I was going to amend the bill to strip it down so it’s a straight repeal of the 2007 mandatory withholding, and she was elated,” said Lockman.
“The unions survived for decades without mandatory withholding, so this shouldn’t hurt them,” he said. “If state workers don’t want to have dues automatically taken out of their paychecks, they should be able to opt out and pay them on their own accord.”
[RELATED: Maine State Workers to Union: Hands off our paychecks!]
In addition to ending the state’s six-year old practice of collecting dues for the Maine State Employees Association’s (MSEA) and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) via mandatory wage garnishment of state workers’ paychecks, Lockman’s original proposal would have forced MSEA to hold annual elections and apply for recertification yearly – two things union leaders and pro-labor Democrats found highly objectionable during an earlier public hearing for the bill on Monday.
“The bill as it was written had too many excuses for Democrats to vote no,” he said. “Our intention was to take those excuses away.”
The Democrats decision to end debate over the bill swiftly effectively foreclosed any opportunity at compromise.
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Hayes, the only Democrat to co-sponsor the bill, was surprised by the Democrats’ parliamentary maneuver. “If one’s position is strong, it will withstand a dialogue about alternatives, and that dialogue didn’t happen,” said Hayes.
Lockman was also stunned by Patrick’s overt partisanship and fidelity to union leaders.
Said Lockman, “I was surprised and disappointed that Chairman Patrick went to such lengths to shut down my amendment and do whatever he could to prevent a debate in the committee or on the floor.”
“The unions’ influence over the legislative process was made clear today.”
By S.E. Robinson
MAINE WIRE Reporter
I am so very disappointed that our political system allows for this kind of abuse. I am way more disappointed in the lack of character and often corruption that appears to exist in so many of our elected officials in Augusta (not so different from Washington). I can accept that people can have different opinions on matters. From this article it appears that you (John Patrick) have joined in the prevailing tactic of the day which is to silence (eliminate) discussion and expression of opposing points of view.
John Patricks behavior gave the nod of approval for the very chapter and union that allowed bullying-to continue-with no recourse.
Since this was voted by the Democrats on the panel, the very chapter and union that I was subject to working in a hostile environment has now proposed in our chapter bylaws a protection for the reason for their bullying toward me or anyone else who requests to see where their votes went. The language will be voted on by the few members who show up at the meetings. We no longer go to the meetings because of being of intimidation and nails in tires and because of being shut down by the officers who are leaders by their own recognition and by a voting system where we will never know just how many votes a candidate has won. We will never see a voter tally and members are afraid to speak up in fear of receiving retaliation from chapter leaders, their friends, and the union who backs up this behavior and nontransparency.
The only thing that the opposition did with LD 786 and LD 831 was give insult to injury to those of us who want to break away.
“Right-To-Work” really means “Take-It-Or-Leave It.”
Collective bargaining benefits everyone by balancing the power between labor and management. No worker in Maine (state or otherwise) is forced to join a labor union. Membership is always voluntary.
What this is really about is whether every worker should contribute a fair share to the costs of being represented collectively for wage, benefit and workplace safety negotiations and having the protection of representation by a knowledgable advocate in grievances for violations of their contract rights.