LD 1552 is scheduled on today’s House calendar. Status, tabled pending motion to accept majority Ought to Pass committee report.
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As many of you are, aware there are currently two bills currently in legislative committee regarding the use of bonded labor in Maine. They are:
LD 1545 – An Act To Protect Maine Workers
Sponsored by Senator Troy Jackson (D – Aroostook)
Latest Committee Action: VOTED, Mar 11, 2010, Ant. Div. Rep.
LD 1552 – An Act To Improve Employment Opportunities for Maine Workers in the Forest Industry
Sponsored by Representative John Martin (D – Eagle Lake)
Latest Committee Action: VOTED, Mar 8, 2010, Ant. Div. Rep.
I have attached PDF Versions of each bill for you to review.
I should note that each bill is expected to come out of committee with a divided report along party lines, with the majority party’s recommendation of “Ought to Pass”, prevailing.
A few points to consider In Favor of the legislation:
- Penalties imposed for use of bonded labor are intended to level the playing field and increase employment of Maine workers
- Bonded Labor effects the labor market, lowering wages, passage would mean landowners would need to pay more for existing labor force
- Fewer workers could limit production leading to an increase in wood prices
- Increased uniformity in bidding of jobs due to similar labor expense
- Bonded Laborers have little to no impact on local economies, because money earned is not spent locally
- Increased employment of Maine workers would help local economy as money earned would be spent locally
A few points to consider Against the proposed legislation:
- Adverse impact of removing land from tree growth may incentivize landowners to sell land outright to a government agency or conservation minded group,
removing land from production.
- These bills now link previously unrelated issues of labor and land ownership. What are the long term implications, is this a door we want to open?
- Government intervention in the right of private land and business owner’s to manage land and run businesses as they see fit.
- Increased costs to meet the administrative requirements for land owners and harvesters with timber rights
- Will this legislation have an unintended impact on exportation of Maine lumber and pulp to Canadian Mills, depressing the market?
- Is there enough available labor? Will this create increased competition for labor, increasing costs?