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Business and Economy

Maine AFL-CIO Urges US Senate Passage Of PRO Act

The U.S. House has passed legislation supporters say is aimed at leveling the playing field for union organizing, a playing field they argue has been unfairly tilted toward management and big business. The Maine AFL-CIO has now turned its attention to Senate action on what's known as the PRO Act, and U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.

Democratic U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden of Maine voted for the bill, which would allow workers to band together to collectively bargain for wages and working conditions. Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine has endorsed it, while Collins has said she is undecided.

Maine AFL-CIO President Cynthia Phinney called on Collins to support the legislation and join the five House Republicans who supported the bill.

“The PRO Act seeks to restore and support the rights of workers to act collectively and together to hold a meaningful seat at the table where decisions about their work lives and communities are made,” she said.

At a virtual news conference Thursday, workers said the proposal is needed to protect the right to organize.

Democratic state Sen. Craig Hickman of Winthrop said, most importantly, the measure does away with so-called right-to-work state laws, which he says are rooted in racism.

"It will not only provide better protections for working people forming unions and give more workers power to negotiate," he says, "it will also help address four centuries of injustice against black, indigenous, tribal and other marginalized populations who have historically shut out of the American dream."