AUGUSTA – Today, Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, introduced Buy American, Build Maine legislation alongside Maine-based businesses at a public hearing before the Legislature’s State and Local Government Committee. LD 1411, “An Act To Establish the Maine Buy American and Build Maine Act” would give preference to Maine-based businesses, workers and American manufacturing when the state awards procurement contracts.
Here is what lawmakers, workers and business owners are saying about the proposal:
“Auburn Manufacturing is in its 42nd year of business, making heat and fire-resistant materials. Over those years, we’ve supplied the military as well as the industrial sector in the United States and beyond. When we sell our products to the military there is a Buy American Act, which is invoked so our company lives by those quality rules. To have Buy American at the state-level, levels the playing field for our high-quality products,” said Kathie Leonard, Auburn Manufacturing, Inc. “I’m glad to have my business in the state of Maine. We have 50 hardworking people who have been with us a long time and they’re highly skilled at what they do. We pay good wages and provide good benefits and we support our communities. If there is going to be federal money that flows through the state for infrastructure products, Maine businesses and American manufacturing should benefit, especially after all we’ve been through this past year.”
“We are the only clothing company in the United States that we know of that makes every single product, including the shirt I’m wearing right now, with 100 percent American-made material and proudly made by the USW local 366 members and IUPAT DC 35 screen printers. We pay good wages, provide good benefits and a healthy and safe work environment for all of our workers. We pivoted our company back in March for two reasons: 1) We’re proud Americans and we knew our country needed us; and 2) we did it to save our own company and provide good-paying jobs. We grew our staff of 30 employees to more than 120, from producing one million masks to over 250,000 face shields,” said Ben Waxman, American Roots. “We are known as a state filled with incredibly hard-working and innovative people, it is time that those people are able to compete on a level playing field especially when it comes to the goods and services of the State. Passing Buy American, Build Maine legislation is a first step in leveling the playing field for the hard-working women and men of Maine, who are often competing against a global economy that is unfairly rigged against them.”
“My type of business is promotional products wearables that you can have your logo printed on, pens, keychains, or any type of promotional product. If you’re sending those kinds of winning bids to out-of-state corporations, when you’ve got someone right here in the State of Maine who does that for a living, I don’t understand where the savings are, especially when you are talking about pennies, compared to what Maine employers would end up paying in an income tax or payroll tax that goes back to the state,” said Chris Lausier, C. Lausier Family, Inc. “I’ve been off and on the procurement site because there have been frustrating situations that continue to turn me off, and I continue to get burned.”
“Buy American, Build Maine is about economic patriotism by ensuring our tax dollars are used, to the extent possible, in American jobs and in Maine businesses,” said Sen. Joe Baldacci, of Bangor.
“Mainers fund public works projects with their tax dollars, and it is the State’s responsibility to do everything it can to maximize the value of those dollars. This means buying products made locally, employing local labor, and supporting Maine companies whenever possible,” said Sen. Chloe Maxmin, of Nobleboro, in written testimony. “By implementing policies that prioritize these practices, we keep our tax dollars in our communities, instead of sending them out of state or out of the country. This keeps money circulating in our towns, where it can benefit Mainers most.”
“Maine needs to spend American dollars on American goods. The Maine Buy American and Build Maine Act takes a well-reasoned approach to ensuring that public American dollars will go toward improving the economies of Maine and the USA. I fully support this legislation!” said Representative Scott Cuddy of Winterport.
“Maine has a long tradition of supporting local. The Maine Buy American and Build Maine Act helps ensure that when Mainer’s taxpayer dollars are being spent on public projects, those contracts prioritize American businesses and American workers rather than being shipped overseas,” said Rep. Mark Bryant, of Windham. “This is good for the country and good for Maine.”
“The time is right for a statewide policy that focuses on Maine people and Maine businesses. We know that our products are second to none, and that Mainers have an incredible work ethic. LD 1411, the ‘Buy American Build Maine Act,’ reinvests in our communities and economy while bolstering our ‘Made in Maine’ brand,” said Rep. Vicki Doudera, D-Camden, in written testimony. “You have heard the mechanics of the bill, but its aim is worth restating: if our state is going to spend taxpayer dollars on goods and projects, let’s make them Maine goods. Let’s work to lift up Maine people by passing LD 1411.”
“The Buy American Build Maine Act is a no-brainer, especially at a time when the country is looking to rebuild its infrastructure. It just makes sense to reinvest taxpayer dollars back into America’s local businesses and workers. Doing so will create good jobs and boost the local economy. It makes no sense to give Maine’s tax money to overseas firms when American companies and workers, many of them in Maine, stand ready and willing to do the work at a fair price,” said Brian Lombardozzi, Alliance for American Manufacturing. “With the Buy American Build Maine Act, state lawmakers have an opportunity to maximize the Pine Tree state’s taxpayer investments. Now is the time to get this done.”
“At Flowfold, we take pride in manufacturing high-quality, sustainable products that last, whether it’s sewing durable bags from sailcloth or making personal protective equipment for our first responders and health care professionals in the middle of a public health crisis. It’s this commitment to both quality and community that has led to our success. The Buy American, Build Maine proposal is directly in line with our mission. It will support the hardworking people and businesses in our communities, keep taxpayer dollars in our communities and ensure that the state gets the highest quality products,” said Devin McNeill, Flowfold.
“The Buy American, Build American legislation that is in front of the Maine legislator is very important legislation for our business located in Thomaston, ME. Since 1928, Dragon Cement has been producing cement in Thomaston providing well-paid jobs for decades. These jobs range from Plant Manager to Professional Engineers to laborers. All very diverse and generational jobs that provide a good living for 100+ Mainers. Additionally, related support businesses also provide local jobs that are a 3 to 4 multiple of our direct jobs. Beyond providing jobs, we are a manufacturing tax base that funds revenue dollars for our city and state. This product is the most used material next to water and is essential in building our Maine infrastructure and protecting our modern society,” said Tim Kuebler, Dragon Cement. “What is common sense and good practice is to do business with people and businesses that support the local economy first and foremost.”
“For most Maine business owners, our state isn’t just a place to do business, it’s where we’ve chosen to live, work and put down roots. Our customers are our friends and neighbors. We care about our environment and the future of our state because it’s what’s happening in our own backyard,” said Dan Kleban, Maine Beer Company. He added, “By passing Buy American, Build Maine legislation, Maine lawmakers can support Maine workers and businesses.”
“It is not right that companies manufacture overseas in order to avoid being held to the same standards as local companies. These standards include basic rules around workplace safety, child labor and environmental protection. Manufacturing overseas often results in working people being exploited through unsafe and deplorable conditions at their job. Voting to pass this bill would help minimize that practice. Procuring iron, steel and other goods through overseas manufacturing undermines American companies that play by the rules. Why should we reward companies that off-shore and avoid playing by the rules?” said Adam Goode, Legislative and Political Director for the Maine AFL-CIO.
“Mainers and Maine companies are getting locked out of jobs in their home state by low-paying out-of-state companies with poor safety records and pay so low that no company in this state can compete. This bill will help level that playing ground by requiring out-of-state companies to hire locally as much as possible. This is important to help train the people of our state in the trades and to make our own self-sufficient construction economy,” said Grant Provost, Ironworkers Local 7.
“This bill gives us all an opportunity that does not present itself often—a chance to come together to champion what should be a non-controversial effort to bolster both Maine Business and Labor. Labor wants business to thrive and be successful. We value good jobs and value employers who take pride in producing high-quality products or services, and who pay respectable wages and benefits. These employers exist in Maine and they deserve to be given a fair chance to compete for this work,” said Carol Sanborn, President of Machinists’ Union Local S-89 in written testimony.