March 30, 2020
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Sanders weighs in on Maine legislative debate, supporting teachers’ right to strike

Charlie Neibergall | AP
Charlie Neibergall | AP
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a town hall meeting, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019, in Keokuk, Iowa.

A candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination dipped his toe into a Maine legislative debate Tuesday, more than two months before Maine Democrats register their preferences in the 2020 presidential primary.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday voiced his support for a bill pending in the Maine Legislature that would grant public employees, including teachers, the right to strike.

His expression of support for the bill, LD 900, followed a Monday evening tweet in which the presidential candidate said he supported teachers in Scarborough, who last week held a rally in support of a new contract.

The bill that would allow public employees in Maine to strike was introduced last year, but it’s been held over to be considered during the winter’s legislative session. It would allow municipal, state, legislative, university, community college and judicial employees to strike, as long as they provide advance notice to the employer.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Michael Sylvester, D-Portland, would not extend the right to strike to public employees who are in charge of public safety.

At a public hearing in April, a number of teachers testified in support of the legislation while groups representing public employers — including the Maine Superintendents’ Association, the state university and community college systems and the Maine Municipal Association — opposed it.


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