AUGUSTA — On Tuesday, the Maine Senate enacted a bill from Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, to improve labor standards for loggers and haulers working on state land. The initial vote was 23-11 in the Senate, and 78-63 in the House.
“Labor standards are vital in any occupation, let alone the logging industry. The state should be the gold standard for labor standards supporting the logging contractors and their employees who work on state-owned land. The state should not, however, pay membership dues to an organization that lobbies for and against bills in the Legislature,” said President Jackson. “With this legislation, we can strengthen working conditions and the integrity of forest certification programs used on state-owned land.”
LD 1874, “An Act to Support Maine Loggers’ and Truckers’ Right to Work in Maine by Improving Labor Standards” would ensure that programs set strong sustainability and labor standards in their forest certification. It would also create transparency in state government by making sure the stay does not become a member of any trade association that has a paid lobbyist register with the Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices.
The proposed legislation would require forest certification programs utilized by the state to contain “performance-based indicators” or fair labor standards. These standards are clearly defined in 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.
LD 1874 will now go to the desk of Gov. Janet Mills, who has 10 days to sign the bill into law, veto it, or allow it to become law without her signature.