Videos from Maine AFL-CIO Statehouse Press Conference

Posted on January 6, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

Tim Boynton, former worker at Associated Grocers of Maine: “I ask the Legislature and the governor, please do not do anything to weaken the unemployment benefits. Focus on jobs, not hurting those without jobs.”

Wednesday was not only the start of the second half of the 125th Legislative session; it was also a day when the Maine AFL-CIO held a well attended press conference in the Statehouse to draw attention to their legislative priorities for 2012. More specifically:

1. LD 1571 “An Act to Amend the Laws Governing Workers’ Compensation”
2. LD 309 “An Act to Make Voluntary Membership in a Public Employee Labor Organization in the State”
3. LD 1725 “An Act to Strengthen the Unemployment Insurance Laws and Reduce Unempolyment Fraud”

Others of interest to Maine AFL-CIO (from their press release):

4. LD 1420 “Employment Standards and Independent Contractor Status”
5. LD 1207 “An Act to Amend the Labor Laws Relating to Certain Agricultural Employees”
6. LD 1095 “An Act to Facilitate the Construction and Operation of Private Prisons by Authorizing the Transport of Prisoners out of State”

Sue Cover’s Kennebec Journal article covered the GOP view of these bills:

(Rep. Andre) Cushing said Maine would have a better chance of landing large employers if they knew the rates would be competitive with rates in other states. Among other things, his bill would stop two practices: allowing retirees to keep collecting benefits, and allowing people who suffer non-work-related injuries while they are receiving benefits to keep getting payments.

“There are proposals in (L.D. 1571) to cap the amount of time people can receive benefits,” he said. “That’s not to say everyone’s benefits will end in a year or two.”

The most controversial of the labor bills is L.D. 309, which would end the practice of requiring state employees who aren’t in unions to pay a portion of union dues. The bill was held over from last year’s session, following a contentious public hearing.

The third bill identified by organized labor as a concern is sponsored by Sen. Chris Rector, R-Thomaston. L.D. 1725 would require people to broaden their search for work after six weeks of unemployment, rather than the current 12 weeks, add vacation pay to the items that offset benefits, and increase penalties for people who get back on unemployment after being disqualified for misconduct.

“The intention is to be sure legitimate claims are paid legitimately to legitimate filers,” said Rector, whose bill was written by the Department of Labor to tighten regulations on unemployment insurance benefits.

A rally was held after the presser, delivering approximately 1000 postcards to Governor LePage’s ffice from workers all across the state (Kennebec Journal photo above).

Here are links to the remainder of the videos taken:

1. Opening remarks by Matt Schlobohm, Maine AFL-CIO executive director

2. Address of Joe Pitcher of Jefferson, BIW worker

3. Address of Jamie Bassett, injured Maine state employee

4. Address of Charlie Urquhart

5. Concluding remarks of Matt Schlobohm, question by KJ reporter Sue Cover

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