On May Day, Dill sees new era of labor battles (May 1, 2012)

Cynthia Dill, (207) 749-7749                                May 1, 2012

On May Day, Dill sees new era of labor battles

U.S. Senate candidate voted to back unionization, raise wage, resist child labor

AUGUSTA — Sen. Cynthia Dill, a leading progressive seeking to succeed Olympia Snowe, will make several appearances Tuesday in observance of International Workers’ Day, also known as May Day.

“May Day is an important day in the history of our country, especially a manufacturing state like ours,” Maine labor historian Charles Scontras said. “It’s a very sacred day for the people whose relatives literally bled and died on the factory floors of this country to pave the way for the incredibly broad prosperity we once enjoyed in America.”

Dill’s appearances in Washington County — with members of the Passamaquoddy Tribe and Axiom Technology CEO Susan Corbett — complement a strong record of supporting workers via bipartisan development initiatives, support for unions and civil rights, and recent votes on taxes, wages, child labor and the right to bargain.

“It’s sad that history is repeating itself in some of the labor battles we were forced to fight in the Legislature in the year 2012,” Dill said. “I’m a little dumbfounded the Republican majority made it easier to exploit women and children in the workplace, at a time we need more and better quality jobs that widen opportunity for all. It was an all-out war on workers.”

After a legal career fighting high-profile workplace discrimination cases for women, veterans and the handicapped, Dill’s recent legislative record on workers’ rights includes:

  • An April vote against the GOP bill barring independent child care providers from unionization or bargaining. Women comprise 98% of Maine’s child-care industry.
  • An April vote against a bill eliminating workers’ rights to unionize at a Turner-based egg farm, where workers complained for years about being shorted pay, denied prompt medical care and terminated for speaking up.
  • A March vote against a measure rejected four times by state voters that flattens state income taxes, with 75% of the benefit to the top 20% of taxpayers and middle-class families forced to make up a $600 million annual shortfall. The measure failed.
  • A 2011 vote to raise Maine’s minimum hourly wage to $7.75 and then $8. Republicans defeated the measure.
  • A 2010 vote to resist letting minors work longer while in school, at 30 percent lower wage than the legal minimum. “We softened the worst of the bill,” Dill said, “but parts of it became law.”

Dill also recalled the LePage administration’s bizarre removal of a mural depicting historical images of Maine’s working men, women and children, the indignities they suffered and their struggle for workplace justice, calling it “an attempt to erase history,” and “another high-profile and frightening example of our government’s anti-worker posture.”

“America is nothing without its middle class,” she said. “That’s why I vote the way I do. And that’s why Maine’s red seat will be blue come November. People want a senator in Washington they know will fight for them. They won’t trade one out-of-touch, ‘independent’ millionaire for another.”

Dill and Corbett will meet at the Machias headquarters of Axiom, an Internet service provider that’s benefited from $25 million in Three Ring Binder funds Dill helped bring to Maine to vastly expand economic opportunity in the state’s rural counties. Dill and Chief Socobasin will discuss tribal labor issues, including the Legislature’s recent failure to allow it to operate slot machines, a measure Dill supported, and well as the Violence Against Women Act and its attempts to protect tribal members.

In the evening, Dill will attend a candidates’ forum at the University of Maine at Machias.

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