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Maine Democrats reaffirm State's role as union's collections agent

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AUGUSTA – State workers who have been forced to pay fees to the Maine State Employees Association (MSEA) since 2007 will suffer forced wage garnishment for at least another two years after the Legislature’s decision to reject an Amherst Republican’s bipartisan proposal.

Standing on the floor of the Maine House of Representatives, Rep. Lawrence E. Lockman (R-Amherst) testified in support of his bill, L.D. 786, which would eliminate the MSEA’s monopoly over public sector collective bargaining rights thus rendering union membership voluntary.

“Simply put, if the unions were doing their job and offering services that workers are willing to pay for, the unions wouldn’t need to have state government act as their forced collection agent,” said Lockman.

“This bill is about choice,” he said. “Right now, state workers who exercise their Constitutional right not to join a union have no choice but to pay for something they don’t want and didn’t ask for.”

Lockman said the MSEA – better known as the state workers’ union – is a “corrupt money laundering scheme.”

“Forced withholding generated a $700,000 annual windfall to the MSEA,” said Lockman. “This fat new revenue stream freed up other union resources that during an election year always find their way into politics,” he said. “No member of this chamber can deny the pervasive influence of all that special-interest spending in our legislative districts.”

Said Lockman, “Thousands of state workers are counting on us to do the right thing today.

“They are pleading with us: Let my people go!”

Rep. Amy Volk (R-Scarborough) said she was not surprised the Democratic Majority defeated Lockman’s bill. “It was a party line vote,” she said. One Democrat, Rep. Terry M. Hayes (D-Buckfield), joined Republicans.

“The state never had any business collecting fees for the state workers’ union,” said Volk. “It’s morally wrong to garnish state workers’ wages without their consent,” she said. “This proposal is going to come back every legislature until it’s corrected.”

Lockman said Wednesday’s vote will not deter his commitment to helping the state workers, many of them constituents, escape MSEA’s forced wage garnishment.

“State workers need to apply constituent pressure to their legislators. Steady, persistent pressure. And they need to hold legislators accountable at the ballot box,” said Lockman.

“Any representative or senator who voted to continue the union-sponsored payroll piracy should enjoy an early retirement from the Legislature,” he said.

Lockman, whose private sector Right-to-Work bill was also killed on Wednesday, said the labor unions’ election spending has purchased the loyalty of Democrats.

“Follow the money,” said Lockman. “Democrats didn’t dare cross their paymasters. Spending by the unions and their allies in legislative races was off the charts in the last election cycle,” he said.

“Our side needs to do a better job of exposing the corrupt money-laundering operation that keeps Democrats in office.”

By S.E. Robinson
Maine Wire Reporter

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About Steve Robinson

Steve Robinson is the former editor of The Maine Wire and currently the executive producer of the Kirk Minihane Show. Follow him on Twitter @BigSteve207.

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