AUGUSTA — A legislative committee has rejected a bill that would prohibit Maine employers from requiring employees to join a union or pay dues as a condition of employment.

The House Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee voted 7-6 against Republican Rep. Larry Lockman’s so-called right-to-work bill on Wednesday. Democrats were joined in opposing the bill by Independent Rep. James Campbell of Newfield.

Republican Gov. Paul LePage has pushed for right-to-work legislation since taking office in 2011, but those efforts have repeatedly failed. His administration says changing the law will attract big companies and jobs to Maine.

But critics say the law would weaken unions and hurt workers’ ability to bargain for good wages and safe working conditions.

The bill now heads to the Democratic-controlled House for consideration.

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