2/6/11

Labor-State Updates Worker Protections

Modernization threatens monopoly representation, forced-unionism
Maine is poised to become a battleground state over an organized labor issue that is popping up around the country, driven by new, so-called “right-to-work” legislation.

Maine is not currently one of the 22 right-to-work states. Employees at unionized businesses in those 22 states who don’t join the union don’t have to pay their share of the costs for collective representation and contract bargaining handled by the union.

In Maine, workers don’t have to belong to a union if they don’t want to: The “closed shop” has been illegal since 1947, according to Matt Schlobohm, executive director of the Maine AFL-CIO.

But employers and unions are allowed by law to agree that all workers who benefit from representation and bargaining share the costs, whether or not they’re in the union.

That would change under right-to-work legislation proposed by several Republican legislators aimed at both private sector and public sector workplaces.

“Individual employees shouldn’t be forced to pay dues as a condition of employment,” said Rep. Tom Winsor, R-Norway. “In the end I don’t want people to think I’m anti-union, because I’m not. I think the union movement has been a very positive thing in most cases. What I do think is this really forces the unions to be more responsive to their members.”
(from new.bangordailynews.com)

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