AUGUSTA – On Tuesday, the Maine Senate enacted legislation from Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, to ensure that contracts between Maine logging contractors and landowners are fairly enforced in the forest products industry. The vote was 17-14 in the Senate and 77-54 in the House.
“There is a long and ugly history in the logging industry of blackballing anyone who speaks up or steps out of line to ask for what they deserve, especially when their rights have been violated. Logging contractors don’t have the resources to take on the large landowners’ corporate lawyers so they either leave the industry or take the loss over and over again,” said President Jackson. “This bill is about making sure Maine logging contractors have somewhere to turn when there is a contract violation. It creates a board that includes individuals representing logging contractors and landowners to help settle these disputes.”
LD 1724, “An Act To Create a Logging Dispute Resolution Board and To Require Proof of Ownership Documents To Be Available within 14 Days of Request” establishes the Logging Dispute Resolution Board to hear disputes related to the logging industry, including disputes regarding pay violations, payout amounts, contract violations, hiring disputes and other topics as deemed appropriate by the board. Only forest landowners or forest products harvesters — someone who qualifies as an independent contractor — would be able to file complaints with this board.
Employees would not be able to file complaints with the board. The Maine Labor Relations Board already provides a forum where aggrieved employees can file complaints against their employer.
LD 1724 will now go to the governor’s desk. The governor has ten days to sign the bill, veto the bill or allow it to become law without her signature.