Blast from the Past: LIVE BLOGGING public hearing on LD309 “right to work” bill (June 2011)

Posted on April 4, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

(From June 2, 2011)

“A public hearing will be held today on LD309, the so-called “right to work” bill. The hearing will be held by the Labor CRED Committee, and begins at 2:30 p.m.

You can live stream the hearing here.

Use the comments section of this diary to let us know what you think about what you have heard.”

A few of Gerald’s early observations:

1. “Labor CRED still on. Winglass nomination with three more to follow. LD309 hearing not likely likely to begin until 3:30.”

2. “One more nomination to go, and then on to LD309. Looks like 4:00 start.”

3. “It is becoming apparent that Republicans are dragging these nominations out for as long as possible.”

Chris Quint from MSEA-SEIU shared a press release, which read:

In a press release dated today, June 2 2011, Senate Republicans state that ‘Right-to-Work’ is dead. This is a blatantly deceptive statement that comes the same day that nearly 1,000 working Mainers, community, business and religious leaders gathered at the state house to oppose LD 309, a so-called ‘right to work’ bill.

LD 309, which is being presented in a public hearing today, would undermine Maine workers’ ability to negotiate with their employers over wages and working conditions. This reckless proposal to end public sector collective bargaining addresses no identified problem in our state. Public sector bargaining in Maine is a proven and nationally regarded system that has provided stability in the public service, and dignity and protection for public workers.

The statement released refers to LD 788, a separate bill directed towards private sector workers that lost traction due to outrage from the community and lack of support in the statehouse. Referring to LD 788 as “the right to work bill” is deceptive and wrong. This is yet another political tactic meant to confuse constituents and distract from the issue at hand.

Although the factual content in the release is incorrect, we are pleased to read the statement from Senate Majority Leader Johnathan Courtney (R-Sanford) , “The vote to postpone LD 788 is a simple matter of setting priorities,” he says, “Our first priorities this year include regulatory reform, health insurance reform, energy cost reform, and passage of a biennial State Budget that puts Maine on the road to fiscal responsibility.”

We agree with Senator Courtney in that the legislature should prioritize, but this begs the question of why? If LD 788 is not a priority because it does nothing to further the legislatures agenda of regulation, health care, energy and the budget – why is LD 309? With the Governor currently in contract negotiations it is obvious this attack on public workers is a direct attempt by the Governor to circumvent the negotiation process with self serving legislation.

Not only is the message in the release incorrect and deceptive, it is a slap in the face to the nearly 1,000 workers here at the state house and the thousands more that LD 309 would effect. Our elected officials should prioritize, and put people before politics.

Some observations by Quint, once the public hearing finally began:

1. “Sen. Rector opens by saying LD 309 not RTW. Repeating R talking point from news release that Right to Work is dead for this session. We wish. All teachers, nurses, and fire fighters impacted by LD 309 wish that were so.”

2. “Gov LePage’s Rep Kicks Off Hearings With More Misinformation. Misinformation Soundbite #1: He claims some state employees are “paying a tax to a private organization” and he is protecting their rights. FALSE. State employees are only paying a service fee for covering a fair share of costs for negotiating and servicing a contract agreement that sets the wages, benefits and work conditions for all state workers, even those who freely chose not to join a union.”

GW noted some discourse in the hearing: “Cushing challenges Driscoll- If he has a question – shouting at him. Where are the chairs? Is Cushing running this hearing?”

CQ followed up: “Reps Gilbert and Driscoll Question Delays on Debate Over Contentious Bills. Two committee members ask:
Why did the legislature delayed discussion of workers’ rights bill (now LD 309) for months and are only taking it up in the legislature’s last days? Why did committee members delayed discussion for hours this afternoon? Four hours ago a crowd of 1,000 concerned Maine citizens — fire fighters, nurses, teachers, clergy, small business owners — were here at Capitol to speak out against this bill.”

“Bill Co-Sponsor Offers More Misinformation. Where to begin? She claims she respects the Maine State Education Association but supports stopping the union’s ability to have the state deduct dues from its members’ paychecks. This is a tradition that has been upheld by Republican and Democratic administrations alike over the years until this one, as longtime MSEA member Bob Ruelhlin will point out in his testimony … which could come hours from now at this rate.

She also is echoing a claim that services fees were imposed “in the middle of the night,” and when a previous person made that wild claim Rep. Gilbert admonished him by saying, “stick to the facts.” The fact is these fair share fees are fair enough that they’ve been upheld in debates that have gone all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

There is plenty more; please click on this link to read the rest.

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