207-688-8195 Professional Logging Contractors of the Northeast

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?