Maine: Do labor laws need better enforcement?

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Earlier this year, a lobbyist for the Koch-funded NFIB stood before the Maine legislature’s Labor Committee and claimed there’s no “clear and compelling” evidence that labor laws need to be better enforced.

Apparently he doesn’t think that there are workers who are being underpaid, having their tips stolen, not getting overtime or are facing discrimination or sexual harassment on the job. We know that’s not true.

Have you or someone you love experienced labor violations in your workplace? I’d like to hear more.

Let me know.

It’s incredibly difficult for individual workers to fight back when their employer has all the power and big companies are constantly finding new ways to keep workers from reporting these crimes or getting justice. They often reclassify employees as contract workers or force them into binding arbitration agreements where they sign away their right to go to court.

That’s why Maine Senate President Troy Jackson has put forward a bill, LD 1693, that would allow workers to band together and get help to hold corporate criminals accountable for violating labor laws.

But we have to counter the lies that corporate lobbyists are going to tell to lawmakers.

Have you ever experienced workplace discrimination? Been forced to work through breaks or work overtime and not been paid for that time? Worked in unsafe conditions? Experienced retaliation for raising issues in your workplace?

I’d like to hear more. You can contact me at the email below to share your experience.

Together we can poke holes in the lies these lobbyists will tell and make sure that lawmakers stand up for workers and hold corporate criminals accountable.

Thank you,

Amy Halsted
MPA Co-Director

P.S. It’s Election Day! Don’t forget to go and vote in your local elections. Polls are open until 8pm. You can click here to find your polling location.



Portland votes ‘no’ on guaranteed paid sick leave

The decision affects over 19,000 employees in the city.
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PORTLAND, Maine — Portland’s City Council voted ‘no’ on Monday to guaranteeing paid sick leave for workers.

Cameron O’Brien


BREAKING: Portland earned paid sick time ordinance FAILS.

The May 6 decision affects over 19,000 employees in the city. The 5-4 vote comes after a debate that has been ongoing in the City Council for a year and a half.

In February, the Portland City Council’s Health and Human Services Committee voted to adopt the measure, which then went to the full City Council for consideration.

Those in favor of the bill were upset by Monday night’s decision.

“We have fought incredibly, incredibly hard for the Portland community,” said Drew Christopher Joy of the Southern Maine Workers Center. “We will not stop fighting for working class people and for people of color and for women and for trans and queer folks in this city.”

RELATED: Portland votes to support paid sick days for workers

RELATED: New push for paid sick leave statewide

The proposal would have allowed most workers in Portland one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, with a maximum of 40 hours, or five days of sick time.

It would have applied to all workers, including part-time, seasonal, and per-diem employees.

Opponents of the ordinance, including small business owners, were worried about cost, saying it may have affected already-existing benefit packages.

This vote comes after Gov. Janet Mills amended a state paid sick leave bill to block local municipalities from creating their own sick leave laws.

That bill has undergone several amendments and is expected to be voted on within the next couple of days.

More U.S. Workers Went on Strike in 2018 Than in Any Year in Three Decades

FEB 15, 2019

H5 strike

New data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows more U.S. workers went on strike last year than in any year since 1986. Nearly 500,000 workers took part in a major work stoppage in 2018.

Denver teacher strike: Thousands walk out for better pay!

Denver teachers say that the non-traditional pay system in the district leads to high turnover, harming students.
Denver teacher strike: Thousands walk out for better pay
Teachers carry placards as they walk a picket line outside South High School in Denver [David Zalubowski/AP Photo]

Teachers in Denver, Colorado, walked out of their classrooms on Monday after failing to reach a deal with administrators on pay.

The educator’s strike, the first in the city in 25 years, in the latest example of educator discontent, following a wave of walkouts over the last year.

Denver’s school district said schools will remain open during the strike as more than 2,000 educators walk out, local media reported. Instead, classes will be staffed by administrators and substitute teachers.

However, the district has cancelled classes for 5,000 preschool children because it does not have the staff to take care of them.

The strike follows more than a year of negotiations over wages, the Denver Post reported.

Teachers started picketing before the start of the school day and students crossed through the picket lines on their way to class in some locations. Before noon, students were also filmed picketing alongside their teachers in support.

Monday’s strike is the first for teachers in Colorado in 25 years after failed negotiations with the school district over base pay [David Zalubowski/AP Photo]

At a press conference on Monday morning, union leaders expressed frustration at failed talks to reach a deal over the weekend.

Union president Henry Roman said teachers were committed to reaching a deal but said that both sides needed a cooling off period.

Another negotiation session is expected on Tuesday.

“They need us. They need our labour, they need our minds, they need our talents to really make it happen,” lead union negotiator Rob Gould said.

Tuhina Verma Rasche@tvrasche

As a product of the Denver Public School System, I support Denver teachers going on strike.

The main sticking points in the talks over a contract governing Denver’s incentive pay system, which started over a year ago, are lowering bonuses to put more money in teachers’ base pay and how to allow teachers to advance in pay based on education and training, as followed by most school districts.

The union pushed for lower bonuses for high-poverty and high-priority schools to free up more money for overall teacher pay and criticised the district for spending too much money on administration.

However, the district sees those particular bonuses as key to boosting the academic performance of poor and minority students.

Wave of teacher strikes

The strike is the latest action in a wave of teacher activism since last spring, when teachers went on strike in West Virginia. Similar strikes and protests have occurred in Kentucky, Oklahoma and Arizona.

Last month, teachers in Los Angeles, California walked out of their classrooms for several days.

The Los Angeles teachers ended up getting the same six percent raise offered early on by the nation’s second-largest school district. However, they also sought and won promises for smaller class sizes and adding more nurses and counsellors.

In Denver, teachers say that the non-traditional pay system in the district leads to high turnover, which they say hurts students.

LA teachers strike: Educators demand better conditions and pay

They also hope that a win on pay will help them when it comes time to negotiate other issues when their overall contract expires in two years.

The state says a walkout will cost about $400,000 a day and would eat up one or two percent of the district’s annual operating budget in about a week.

In encouraging both sides to come to an agreement, Colorado Governor Jared Polis has pointed out that this money will no longer be available to help pay teachers once it is spent on the strike.

Teachers carry placards as they walk a picket line outside South High School in Denver [David Zalubowski/AP Photo]

Although teachers in some states are barred from striking, teachers in Colorado have a right to walk off the job.

As required by state law, teachers gave notice last month that they planned to strike. But the walkout was put on hold because the school district asked the state to intervene.

The strike was on again after Polis, a Democrat, decided on Wednesday not to get involved, believing the positions of both sides were not that far apart.

However, Polis said the state could decide to intervene and suspend the strike for up to 180 days, if a walkout dragged on.

The state does not have the power to impose any deal on either side, but it can try to help the union and school district reach a deal and can require them to participate in a fact-finding process.

According to an email sent to parents, students at Denver Discovery School were told not to bring their backpacks, binders, or anything of value to school during the strike, the Denver Post reported. Students’ mobile phones would be collected at the start of the day and returned at the end of the day.


Wright State Faculty Ends One of the Longest Strikes at a Public University in U.S. History!

FEBRUARY 12, 2019

In Dayton, Ohio, faculty members at Wright State University have just concluded one of the longest public university strikes in U.S. history. On Sunday, the university’s administration reached a tentative contract agreement with the faculty union’s executive committee, which union members will vote to ratify in coming days. The strike began late last month, when the university imposed a contract on faculty members that worsened working conditions and decreased benefits. When the administration refused to negotiate, 85 percent of Wright State University’s union members voted to authorize a strike. We speak with Rudy Fichtenbaum, president of the American Association of University Professors. He is the chief negotiator for the association’s chapter at Wright State University, where he is professor emeritus of economics.

Meet Victorina Morales, an Undocumented Immigrant Who Spent Five Years as Trump’s Housekeeper(?!)

FEBRUARY 07, 2019

Democratic Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey is calling on the FBI and Department of Homeland Security to investigate whether employees at Trump National Golf Club broke the law by helping undocumented employees obtain fake work papers amid news reports that the Trump company has fired at least 18 undocumented workers from five golf courses in New York and New Jersey in the past two months. On Monday, Menendez called on the federal government to allow former undocumented employees of the Trump properties to remain in the country while the investigation proceeds. We speak with an undocumented housekeeper from Guatemala named Victorina Morales, who helped expose what was happening on the Trump properties by speaking on the record to The New York Times. Morales spent years making Donald Trump’s bed and performing other duties at his New Jersey club, even though she was undocumented. She attended the State of the Union as a guest of Democratic Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey.

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Union officials accuse Bath Iron Works of unfair labor practices

As leaders of the draftsmen’s union at Bath Iron Works met again Tuesday with company officials in an attempt to reach agreement on a new four-year contract, local union officials released a statement warning of a strike and accusing the company of engaging in “unfair labor practice issues.”

A key issue is BIW’s proposal to eliminate most of the flexible schedule benefit, which union leaders say has benefitted members, Trent Velella, vice president of the union, said in a release Tuesday.

“Flexibility in the workplace has allowed members to balance the needs of their families including children, aging [parents], and personal medical and health issues while designing some of the world’s finest Navy ships,” UAW Region 9A director Julie Kushner said in the release, adding that the UAW International fully supports the local Bath union.