High, long-term unemployment, more folks without health insurance, high mortgage foreclosure rates and an infrastructure that is crumbling around us — sound familiar? It should, because I am talking about Maine and its residents.
We are facing those issues and more, with no relief in sight. Actually, it may get worse due to increasingly higher fuel costs.
But don’t worry, we are being heard in Augusta, right? Don’t believe it.
Right now, the focus is on an unemployment bill that would make it more difficult for people who are unemployed; a workers’ compensation bill that would strip away the ability to receive long-term benefits for those injured on the job; a bill that would take away the rights of workers at the old DeCoster Egg Farm to form a union; and a bill that would allow state workers to not join the union or pay their fair share yet receive all of the benefits and protections of their fellow unionized workers.
See a trend yet? Not one of these issues creates or destroys jobs, nor do they address the other issues, yet that is where the focus is aimed.
The Republicans have not shown any interest in job creation. Instead, they have taken steps that are firmly against workers and their rights.
I urge the public to examine those bills to find any job creation within them.
I urge voters to hold accountable those who are not working for the public’s best welfare.
Joseph Mailey, Auburn
Editor’s note: The author of this letter is secretary of the Western Maine Labor Council, one of five central labor councils of the Maine AFL-CIO.