Labor

Fair Workweek bill fails miserably in committee

on

This morning, lawmakers on the Labor and Housing Committee held a public hearing on LD 1345, a bill that would require employers to provide their employees with at least two weeks prior notice of the employees’ work schedule. The bill would also impose penalties on employers for making changes to an employees’ schedule without adequate notice, even if the scheduling conflicts were outside of an employer’s control (with a few exceptions).

There was little public support for LD 1345 at the hearing Wednesday morning. Rep. Gina Melaragno, the bill’s primary sponsor, and Rep. Heidi Brooks, a co-sponsor of the bill, spoke in favor of the legislation along with James Myall of the Maine Center for Economic Policy. No one else in the state appeared before the Labor and Housing committee Monday to support the measure.

The Maine Center for Economic Policy was the only entity present to support LD 1345 at Wednesday’s public hearing. Photo courtesy of Curtis Picard.

After the bill’s few supporters gave their testimony, more than 50 members of the public opposed to LD 1345 were prepared to speak. Many opponents belong to the Restaurant Workers of Maine, the organization primarily responsible for reinstating the tip credit after it was eliminated through referendum in 2016. Retail and hospitality groups were also opposed to the measure, including the Retail Association of Maine.

After about 10 opponents of the measure spoke against it, the chair of the Labor and Housing Committee, Sen. Shenna Bellows, suspended the hearing to caucus with members of the committee.

In an unprecedented move, after the brief caucus, members of the committee returned to end the public hearing and immediately moved into the work session on LD 1345, where lawmakers unanimously voted to kill the bill.

“This was the best outcome for Maine,” said Wendyll Caisse, a former restaurant owner in Maine and the treasurer for the Restaurant Workers of America, an organization that advocates for pro-restaurant worker policies throughout the country.

“The committee recognized the onerous aspects of this law and realized it was in no one’s best interest for the state to become a partner in everyone’s business.”

The committee’s swift execution of LD 1345 is a win for workers and small business owners throughout the state who have been under attack since the start of this legislative session.

About Jacob Posik

Jacob Posik, of Turner, is the director of communications at The Maine Heritage Policy Center (MHPC) and the editor of The Maine Wire. He formerly served as a policy analyst at MHPC. Posik can be reached at jposik@mainepolicy.org.

Recommended for you

Comments