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Maine Senate Defeats Contentious 'Right-to-Work' Bill

AUGUSTA, Maine - The Maine Senate has killed a bill that would have made Maine a so-called "right-to-work'' state.

The Senate voted 21-14 against the bill on Monday, following in the wake of the House, which rejected it by a 90-52 vote on Friday. The bill is now dead.

The bill sought to end a requirement that workers in unionized shops who choose not to join the union pay so-called "fair share" fees.

The bill has been a top priority for Republican Gov. Paul LePage but has been defeated several times by Democrats, supported by powerful unions. Sen. John Patrick, a Rumford Democrat, said current fair share policies need to remain in place.

"Currently, union members can negotiate with employers but all represented employees pay the cost of negotiating and representation, since unions have an obligation to represent all workers in the bargaining unit," Patrick said. "This bill interferes with the collective bargaining, and with the employer/worker labor relationship."

Supporters say the legislation is about protecting the rights of workers who aren't interested in joining a union.