AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Senate slammed the door on two bills that Republicans called “right-to-work” legislation with 21-13 votes Thursday.
Both bills went to the full Legislature with divided “ought not to pass” recommendations from the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee, where they garnered support from minority Republicans and opposition from majority Democrats and independent Rep. James Campbell of Newfield.
Rep. Lawrence Lockman, R-Amherst, sponsored both bills. One, LD 786, sought to repeal the law allowing public employee unions to deduct the equivalent of union dues from the paychecks of public-sector workers who choose not to join the union.
On Wednesday, House members rejected the bill 89-56.
A second bill, LD 831, aimed to allow an employee to work at a unionized business without having to support the union financially as a condition of employment.
The House rejected that bill Wednesday by a tally of 92-53.
Debate and voting on both measures followed largely party lines, with Republicans supporting the measures and Democrats voicing opposition. Independent Sen. Richard Woodbury of Yarmouth and Republican Sens. Tom Saviello of Wilton and Brian Langley of Ellsworth voted with the 18 Democratic senators on hand for Thursday’s vote.
Republicans argued that economic, job and population growth in right-to-work states have exceeded growth in other states in recent years. Democratic opponents countered that wages are generally lower in right-to-work states and that a number of right-to-work states still rank high on lists of states with high poverty rates and low gross domestic product.
The right-to-work bills are similar to two that were introduced by Rep. Tom Winsor, R-Norway, during the last legislative session, when Republicans held majorities in the House and Senate, but didn’t pass. Gov. Paul LePage had expressed support for Lockman’s two bills.
BDN State House reporter Matthew Stone contributed to this report.