In Wednesday night’s debate, the three candidates for Governor were asked their top policy priorities to get the economy moving quickly. Governor LePage gave two: reducing the cost of electricity and passing right-to-work legislation.
Fast-forward to Thursday morning, and we find out that the IBEW and CWA workers at FairPoint have voted to strike. Irony is clearly not dead. There can be no doubt that if the Governor had his way, the workers at FairPoint would silently acquiesce to whatever FairPoint wanted. He said as much in the debate. He thinks the way to grow the economic pie in Maine is to make sure employees have as little a voice as possible in how the pie is divided. In Governor LePage’s world, an employee is just a number. The bigger the number next to that employee in the budget, the bigger the target on his or her back.
But facts are stubborn things. Look back at the reports of the Verso closure in Bucksport. The company put out at least one statement articulating some broad reasons they chose to close the mill. None of those reasons were the cost of their unionized workforce.
Governor LePage has now said a few times that he’s tired of talking about the minimum wage and wants to start talking about how to get $25 to $50 an hour jobs in Maine. Good luck doing that if you prevent the workers from advocating for their own well-being.
November 4th can’t come soon enough for the working people of Maine.
About the author: Benjamin K. Grant is an attorney at the workers’ rights law firm, McTeague Higbee. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 207-725-5581.