Sen. Miramant introduces bills to protect small businesses, support workers’ rights

Wed, 05/05/2021 - 10:00am

AUGUSTA — Senator Dave Miramant, D-Camden, has introduced two bills to support small businesses and workers’ rights.

LD 959, “An Act To Protect Small Businesses by Ensuring That a Prevailing Wage Is Paid on Public Works Construction Projects,” expands the definition of “construction” for Maine public works projects by including payments for work performed both on- and off-site.

LD 1519, “An Act To Increase Workplace Transparency with Regard to Arbitration Agreements, the Rights of Employees and Legal Remedies,” enacts the Maine Workplace Transparency Act, which would ensure certain rights for employees subject to arbitration agreements as part of their employment. Both bills were the subject of public hearings before the Legislature’s Labor and Housing Committee.

“To ensure Maine’s economy remains competitive for the foreseeable future, we need to allow Maine businesses to bid competitively on projects while also ensuring workers’ rights and pay are protected.” said Sen. Miramant. “While these bills differ in their terms, they both share the goal of protecting Maine’s workers by closing payment loopholes and establishing employee rights for arbitration agreements.”

LD 959 expands the definition of “construction” so that the prevailing wage requirement cannot be circumnavigated by remote duties for a project. Currently, there is no protection in Maine statute for off-site projects.

LD 959 makes way for the prevailing wage requirement for contracted work that is performed on site or at an off-site location within 350 miles of the site of the public works or where more than 10% of the contracted work is performed.

LD 1519 enacts the Maine Workplace Transparency Act that grants certain rights to employees subject to arbitration as part of their employment.

It also provides a list of unconscionable terms in an arbitration agreement that may not be used against employees, as well as a list of rights for employees in their conduct both in and out of the workplace. Arbitration is an out-of-court method for resolving a dispute between a worker and an employer.

LD 959 and LD 1519 face further action in committee.