Maine Takes Step Toward Becoming “Right to Work” State

 by Rob Roper

There are twenty-eight “Right to Work” states in the Union today. Maine recently took an incremental step toward becoming the twenty-ninth. Governor Paul LePage, who has made Right to Work legislation a goal, agreed to a contract with state workers in which Maine State Employees Association agreed to stop charging non-members agency fees.

To get this concession LaPage agreed to significant pay raises for the state workers, 6% over the next two years. However, the Bangor Daily News concluded, “The ratification of these two contracts is an incremental step, but it can’t be counted as anything other than a win for the governor.”

Vermont should take notice. If Maine takes the full leap to become a Right to Work State, it would be the first in New England, making our neighbor much more attractive to businesses and job growth.

As National Right to Work posts on their website:

Right to Work states enjoy a higher standard of living than do non-Right to Work states. Families in Right to Work states, on average, have greater after-tax income and purchasing power than do those families living in non-Right to Work states, independent studies reveal. What’s more, Right to Work states have greater economic vitality, official Department of Labor statistics show, with faster growth in manufacturing and nonagricultural jobs, lower unemployment rates and fewer work stoppages.

Though it is unlikely the Vermont legislature as currently comprised will consider Right to Work legislation (though it should), the U.S. Supreme Court may make that decision for us. The Court deadlocked 4-4 on a key case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. The addition of Neil Gorsuch will likely tip the majority in cases likely coming before the Court later this year.

- Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute

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The Ethan Allen Institute is Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization. Founded in 1993, we are one of fifty-plus similar but independent state-level, public policy organizations around the country which exchange ideas and information through the State Policy Network.

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