MAINE WORKERS ARE THE BACKBONE OF OUR ECONOMY
Good morning. This is State Senator Troy Jackson of Allagash.
It's labor day weekend. A time for our nation to honor the American worker. This is a tradition that began more than a hundred years ago. And one that is just as relevant today. In some ways, perhaps now, it's even more relevant to be reminded of the social and economic achievements of American workers today and those from our past.
At a time when our country is struggling to recover from an economic recession and many Mainers are either unemployed, underemployed, or having difficulty making ends meet, it's important to remember the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our state and our country.
As a Maine logger, I know firsthand what it means to be unsure of when, where and even what my next job is going to be. I know what it's like to be away from my home and my family for days on end just to earn a living. I come from a long tradition of loggers and am proud of the work I do. I work side by side with some of the hardest working men and women.
I also live in a part of Maine where nearly ten percent of the people in my community are unemployed—among the highest in the state. Many of the unemployed are also loggers who would love an opportunity to earn a living for their family. Instead, too many of those jobs are going to men and women who live across the state's border.
Because of the situation, I am frustrated and frankly angered by the governor's comments earlier this week. At a town hall meeting in Aroostook, the governor said, and I quote, “nobody wants to cut the logs and there is nobody there to cut the trees.”
Is the governor insinuating that Maine people are lazy or choosing not to work? Or, is this the governor's excuse for why foreign workers are hired over Maine workers, to work on Maine land and harvest Maine wood.
Throughout my lifetime, I've watched hard working men and women risk their lives for jobs that are now being sold to the lowest bidder. Why is this Administration taking away the few protections that do exist for Maine workers?
I simply can't make sense of this.
The rhetoric must stop. The insults must stop. The distortions must stop.
To be clear, this is more than a logging issue. This is more than a northern Maine issue. The governor's blatantly hostile attitude has targeted Maine labor, Maine workers, and Maine industry. And, Maine people are fed up with extreme partisanship and ideology. It is hurting our state. It is hurting our people. And, it is hurting our economy.
Let me ask: who would invest in a company where the CEO publicly characterizes his workforce as lazy? This is a tactic that doesn't work in the private sector and it certainly doesn't work in government either.
To set the record straight—and hopefully to find some common ground, I have invited the governor to return to Aroostook. And this time, actually meet with Maine loggers—employed and unemployed. Let them share their challenges and concerns. And let's start there—with the truth, with the reality of unemployment and underemployment for thousands of Mainers—not because they aren't willing to do the work but instead because the jobs don't exist or worse yet, the jobs that do exist are going to cheaper, foreign labor.
If the governor is interested in moving beyond his rhetoric—and beyond pitting one group of people over another—and actually solving the problem, he will be there. If not, I simply ask that if the governor and his administration chooses not to be a part of the solution, please do not be a part of the problem.
are resilient. We have a national reputation for being second to none.
And, I know
that with or without this administration, we can once again thrive. But it sure
would be nice to have our state's highest elected official be in our
appropriate, that this Labor Day weekend, when our nation is paying tribute to
American workers, that we be thankful for the strength and resiliency
workers who each and every day contribute to the success of our state—whether
it's through their work in our mills or our Main Streets, our office buildings
or on our oceans, Maine workers are the backbone of our state's accomplishments.
This is Senator Troy Jackson. Thank you for listening and have a great weekend.