AUGUSTA — Legislation from Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, intended to protect wages and improve working conditions for logging contractors became law without the Governor’s signature last week. The new laws build on previous measures put forward by President Jackson to support Maine loggers and wood haulers.
“It’s simple – working in the woods isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s demanding and dangerous work. The loggers who do this work deserve to be compensated in a fair and timely manner,” said President Jackson. “LD 1849 will help put a stop to the bad actors playing games with the hard-earned wages of logging contractors and ensure folks get what they are owed.”
The first measure – LD 1849, “An Act to Ensure Fair and Timely Payment in the Harvesting of Forest Products” – requires logging contractors to be paid within 30 days of wood being prepared for hauling or being 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. Other state laws designed to protect the fair and timely payout to logging contractors have proven to be inadequate without an enforcement mechanism. The random spot checks are designed to improve compliance.
The second measure – 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 increases transparency in state government by making sure the state does not become a member of any trade association that has a paid lobbyist registered with the Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices.
“As a large landowner and employer, the state should be an industry leader when it comes to wages, working conditions and sustainable forestry practices on state-owned land. The forest certification program utilized by the state should reflect that,” said President Jackson. “LD 1874 strengthens the integrity of forest certification programs used by the state and ensures that these certification programs mean something.”
Under this new 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 90 days after the Legislature adjourns sine die.