In Maine: IBEW Local 1837
16 Old Winthrop Road
Manchester, ME 04351
Phone: (207) 623-1030, Fax: (207) 621-8384
In New Hampshire:
680 Central Avenue, Suite 201
Dover, NH 03820
Phone: (603) 743-1652, Fax: (603) 743-1654

2019 Maine & New Hampshire Legislative Bills Summary

Maine State House in Augusta.

Maine Summary (courtesy Maine AFL-CIO)

In the wee hours of Thursday morning, June 20, the Maine Legislature adjourned, marking the end of a session that saw some important labor victories and several significant disappointments. On the plus side, workers organized, educated legislators and won victories that will allow woods workers to collectively bargain (LD 1459), provide earned time off for 139,000 Maine workers (LD 369), create good union jobs in the renewable energy sector (LD 1282), provide retirement security for emergency dispatchers (LD 1395), and improve public transportation and safety (LD 458).

Firefighters and first responders improved their retiree healthcare (LD 1664, LD 1674); the building trades passed multiple bills to raise standards in the construction industry (LD 904, LD 1564 and several others currently on the Governor's desk). We improved unemployment insurance (LD 75), raised standards for utility mergers and sales (LD 1560) and engaged the legislative process to improve staffing at the state's biggest utility.

Governor Janet Mills also vetoed two of our priority bills that would have strengthened collective bargaining rights for public sector workers. LD 1177 would have fixed the power imbalance between management and public sector workers by making arbitration binding on wages, insurance and retirement. Unfortunately, we were unable to garner enough votes in the Senate to override the veto. Click here to see how your legislators voted on LD 1177.

Governor Mills also vetoed LD 240, which would have given teachers the right to negotiate over planning and preparation time. Under current law, educators cannot negotiate anything related to educational policy, which unjustly limits negotiations to a few items related to wages and working conditions. Click here to see how your legislators voted on LD 240.

On other priorities we had some mixed results. The recently passed biennial budget increases municipal revenue sharing from 2.5 percent to 3 percent this year and 3.75 percent the following year, which will help cities and towns pay for important services like public safety and prevent property taxes from going up. However, revenue sharing was previously scheduled to automatically rise to 5 percent in July, so while municipalities will be getting more money, we could have done better.

The Maine House also narrowly voted down a bill to restore a tax on estates worth over $2 million, which was repealed in 2011. Click here to see how your legislator voted on that bill. We also made the first benefit improvements to the workers compensation system in nearly 30 years, but the compromise bill should have done more for injured workers.

A number of new laws will strengthen the ability of workers to organize and build power.  With LD 1459, loggers and haulers will finally be able to collectively bargain for better pay and working conditions. A new card check law for municipal workers and another law to allow public sector unions to gain access to new hires will make it much easier to organize public employees. Overall, we made meaningful progress in Augusta, but only through more workplace organizing can we grow the power we need to rebuild the labor movement and win bigger victories for working people. As the old labor slogan goes, “Don’t mourn. Organize!”

NH Legislative Hearing in Concord.

New Hampshire Summary (courtesy NH AFL-CIO)

Since the opening of the 2019-2020 session, the NH AFL-CIO has pursued an aggressive strategy of advancing the legislative agenda developed by the Legislative Affairs Committee. This agenda includes positions on over 125 bills. These included:
• the restoration of prevailing wage requirements for state projects that were stripped in 1985,
• supporting a variety of strategies to substantially increase public education funding,
• backing increases in the minimum wage
• offer paid family-and-medical leave,
• giving job-seekers increased protections against unfair demands from potential employers on information not germane to their employment.

As of June 20, these measures passed the House and Senate. We have continued to meet regularly with allies to advocate for our shared legislative goals. Monthly meetings with the Moral Economy Table have resulted in close collaboration on the preparations for events. This group has turned its attention from passage of our legislation agenda to putting pressure on Gov. Sununu to sign these bills into law.

Look for further updates of this information in July.