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Business and Economy

Federal Labor Board Ruling Sparks Concern, Praise in Maine

AUGUSTA, Maine - A ruling by the National Labor Relations Board is causing concern among Maine employers and regulators, and winning praise from state labor groups.

The NLRB has refined the relationship between companies and their employees, ruling that when larger companies use temporary staffing agencies to provide employers for certain tasks, both the larger company and the temp agency are considered employers.

Pam Megathlin is the director of the Maine Bureau of Labor Standards, which enforces many employment laws. She says the ruling could impact the responsibility of employers in several areas, including "minimum wage, overtime, providing medical family leave protections for that individual. But you have to look at almost each case on a case-by-case basis."

That worries Peter Gore at the Maine State Chamber of Commerce. He says the ruling could result in a lot of litigation to determine the relationship between employers and employees, and what is considered a joint employment situation. 

But the Maine AFL-CIO is praising the ruling, saying it will allow workers to better bargain with those who actually determine all of their working conditions - for example, both a parent corporation and a local franchise owner.

"This decision is hopefully the beginning of the end of antiquated laws that create an economic playing field tilted against working people," Maine AFL-CIO Executive Director Matt Schlobohm in a statement. "It means more working people can engage in meaningful collective bargaining by bringing all parties who control their wages and employment conditions to the table. It is victory for the growing workers movement that is demanding fair pay and a voice at work."