Testimony: Establishing Right-to-Work in Maine
Testimony in Support of LD 1636: “An Act to Ensure the Right to Work Without Payment of Dues or Fees to a Labor Union,” and LD 1707, “An Act to Allow Workers to Work Without Having to Pay Labor Organization Service Fees.”
Senator Tipping, Representative Roeder, and the distinguished members of the Committee on Labor and Housing, my name is Nick Murray and I serve as director of policy for Maine Policy Institute. We are a free market think tank, a nonpartisan, non-profit organization that advocates for individual liberty and economic freedom in Maine. Thank you for the opportunity to testify in support of LD 1636 and LD 1707.
A right-to-work law, which prohibits mandatory union membership as a condition of employment, has the potential to benefit workers, businesses, and the overall economy of Maine. While unions have historically played an important role in protecting workers’ rights, the freedom to choose whether or not to join a union should be left up to individual employees.
To date, 26 states and Guam have adopted Right-to-Work legislation. Though the majority of southern and midwestern states have embraced the policy, no state north of West Virginia has followed suit. With Maine’s current economic struggles, Right-to-Work could help us become a leader in the region and revitalize the state’s economy.
First and foremost, a right-to-work law would protect workers’ individual rights. Employees should have the right to decide whether or not to join a union, without fear of retribution or coercion. By allowing workers to choose whether or not to join a union, a right-to-work law promotes individual freedom and empowerment.
There is little doubt that forced unionization has a detrimental impact on Maine’s economy. A 2014 report by the Competitive Enterprise Institute found that “the compelling preponderance of evidence suggests there is a substantial, significant, and positive relationship between economic growth in a state and the presence of a Right-to-Work law.”
A study published in 2013 by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy found that from 1947 through 2011, Right-to-Work laws increased average real personal income growth, average annual population growth, and average annual employment growth in Right-to-Work states.
Unions often impose rigid work rules and seniority-based promotions that can stifle business innovation and adaptation. Under Right-to-Work, a business would be able to more easily experiment with new work arrangements and employee incentives, which could lead to better wages and a more valuable company.
Finally, Right-to-Work would promote much-needed accountability and transparency in union activities, especially those serving the public sector. When unions are able to rely on mandatory membership fees, they may become less accountable to their members and more focused on political activities or other priorities. By allowing workers to choose whether or not to support a union with their dues, unions would be forced to become more transparent and accountable to their members.
If public workers must join a union as a condition of employment, no union may compel a worker to fund their workplace union, per the United States Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling in Janus vs. AFSCME. Workers must decide for themselves whether to financially support a union. Contrary to existing state statute, public employees in Maine cannot be required to pay dues, fees, or any other form of payment to a labor organization unless the employee affirmatively consents to pay. This committee must ensure Maine law is crystal clear on this point by passing LD 1707.
Please deem LD 1636 and LD 1707 “Ought To Pass” to protect workers’ rights, attract new businesses, grow Maine’s economy, and increase union accountability to their members. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Photo: National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation