December 14, 2017
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State workers union chief quits a day after members vote to accept ‘right-to-work’ language

By Steve Mistler, Maine Public
Courtesy of Maine State Employees Association | BDN
Courtesy of Maine State Employees Association | BDN
Rod Hiltz, the executive director of the Maine State Employees Union, has resigned.

Rod Hiltz, the executive director of the Maine State Employees Union, has resigned.

Hiltz’s resignation was announced to the state’s largest public sector labor union on Thursday, the day after members voted to accept a two-year contract that eliminates a requirement that all employees pay union fees, even if they’re not members.

Hiltz could not be reached for comment. Ramona Welton, president of the union, confirmed Hiltz’s resignation but would not say if his departure was related to the new contract.

Negotiators for the union accepted the elimination of nonmember fees, also known as fair share fees, in exchange for a 6 percent raise spread out over two years.

In the past, the union has vigorously fought the elimination of fair share because the union is legally required to represent all employees in bargaining and labor disputes, regardless of whether they’re full-paying members.

Additionally, conservative activists have pushed to eliminate fair share because it has proved to weaken unions — a political force that typically support Democrats.

The contract vote was tallied Wednesday night and affects roughly 9,000 MSEA employees and 800 corrections and mental health workers in the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

The contract has been viewed as a big political win for Gov. Paul LePage, who has repeatedly pushed for the elimination of fair share in Maine law, but denied by the Legislature.

However, so-called fair share provisions like the one the two unions gave up could soon be outlawed if the U.S. Supreme Court takes up a case out of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Last year the court deadlocked on a case that could have stricken down fair share provisions in the 20 or so states that have them. That deadlock came at a time when the court was evenly divided between four conservative justices and four liberals.

President Donald Trump’s recent appointment of Judge Neil Gorsuch, a staunch conservative, could tip the balance in favor of eliminating fair share provisions.

This report appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.

 


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