House Democratic Office
Feb. 24, 2012
Contact: Jodi Quintero [Hunt], 287-1488, c. 841-6279
Lawmakers must focus on creating jobs, not stripping workersí rights
Good morning, Iím Rob Hunt Ė the state representative from Buxton.
Thank you for tuning in.
You may have heard on the news this week that lawmakers in the State House of Representatives passed a bill to strip workersí rights at the notorious DeCoster egg farm.
Most of us know DeCoster egg farms from its high profile salmonella outbreak a few years ago in Iowa or for its egregious human rights violations in Maine.
DeCoster's Maine operations have been fined multiple times over the past decade for repeat violations of workplace safety. Jack DeCoster, owner of the egg farms in Maine and nationally, has been found guilty of violating federal and state labor, safety, immigration, animal cruelty and environmental laws for decades.
The violations prompted the passage of the Maine law that gave the workers on the farm the right to organize for their rights.
This week, Republicans in the Maine House voted to repeal that right. Taking rights away from workers does nothing to improve our economy.
Our elected officials need to focus on creating jobs and getting our economy back on track. Repealing these workersí collective bargaining rights will not create a single job or do a single thing to improve Maineís economy or working conditions.
A new company has leased the property from Jack DeCoster and they have a long road ahead to clear the farmís name and establish a good working relationship with their staff and the community. But letís not hope they treat workers fairly - letís make sure they do. Maine lawmakers should be standing up for Maine workers and focusing on creating jobs, not gutting workersí rights.
This action by the Republican majority in Augusta against workers is a bad sign, because we have a lot of really important work to do around the rights and safety of Maine workers this year and Iím worried that the Republican majority is not lining up on the side of working people.
As we face controversial proposals to rollback health and insurance protections for workers injured on the job or sent to the unemployment line, itís critical that Augusta defends the Mainers working hard for a paycheck every week and not selling them out.
Workers of all kinds across Maine, from the farms in Northern Maine to the offices and cubicles in Biddeford and Saco, are feeling left behind in the current economy. The middle class is the backbone of Maine and if we donít keep that backbone strong, we will collapse eventually.
While our nation is starting to see signs of recovery, itís still a scary time for everyone, whether you have a job or are looking for one. The workers of Maine need to feel like Augusta has our back Ė and on that important mission, Republicans in the legislature failed last week.
But as a state, we must succeed. So please, stay involved, pay attention, and keep letting us know the challenges youíre facing as a worker, or business owner, or someone looking for work. We need those voices in Augusta today, more than ever.
Thank you for listening. Iím
State Rep. Rob Hunt. Have a great weekend.