NEWRY — Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, highlighted recent legislative wins for Maine logging contractors and wood haulers at the 29th Annual Meeting of the American Loggers Council in Newry earlier this month. President Jackson was invited to speak by the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine following the passage of new laws designed to protect wages and improve working conditions in the forest products industry.
“As a fifth-generation logger, I’ve spent my entire life advocating for fair wages, better working conditions and the rights of loggers and wood haulers. Despite large landowners and wealthy special interests fighting to protect the status quo at every turn, I am proud that Maine has finally begun to make progress for the folks in this dangerous and demanding line of work,” said President Jackson. “It was a real honor to share our recent success with loggers from around the country, talk about what’s next and share what I’ve learned from this decades-long fight.”
President Jackson has been a consistent champion for loggers and wood haulers throughout his tenure in the Maine Legislature. Both measures put forward this session passed the Legislature with bipartisan support and became law without the governor’s signature in July.
The first law — LD 1849, “An Act to Ensure Fair and Timely Payment in the Harvesting of Forest Products” — requires the payment of logging contractors within 30 days of delivered wood being prepared for hauling for prepared roadside. It also directs the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to conduct random inspections to ensure that entities are complying with this requirement. Existing state laws designed to protect fair and timely payouts to logging contractors have proven inadequate. Random spot checks are likely to improve compliance with Maine law.
The second new law — LD 1874, “An Act to Support Maine Loggers’ and Truckers’ Right to Work in Maine by Improving Labor Standards” — strengthens the integrity of forest certification programs used on state-owned land. It also improves transparency within state government by preventing the state from becoming a member of a trade association that employs a paid lobbyist registered with the Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices.
Under this law, the forest certification programs utilized by the state would have to contain “performance-based indicators” or fair labor standards. These standards are clearly defined by the Forest Stewardship Council and include:
- No use of child labor
- No use of forced labor
- No discrimination
- Freedom of association and collective bargaining
- Promotion of gender equality
- Implementation of legal occupational health and safety practices
- Payment of fair wages that meet or exceed the minimum wage
- Adequate and effective training.
Maine landowners, including the state, pursue forest certification programs to provide assurance that land is being managed in an environmentally, socially and economically responsible manner.
Both laws will take effect Oct. 25.