Old News Archive

Guest legislator article by Senator Elizabeth M. Schneider

August 23, 2006 - TRC

Celebrating Maine’s Workers

Labor Day is just around the corner. Known to many as the last hurrah of summer, this long weekend is the traditional time for families to come together and picnic, barbeque and to enjoy local events. Those people still attending school often see this weekend as their final freedom before another school year. Mainers also heave a collective sigh of relief as the last of the summer tourists pack up their minivans and head home. For a few weeks before the foliage calls them back again, residents have the streets, shops and theaters to themselves.

However, Labor Day has a significant history which encompasses much more than hot dogs and nice men in go-carts. The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday September 5th in 1882 in New York City. There is actually quite the controversy regarding who developed the concept of Labor Day. Some say that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, suggested a holiday to recognize those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.” Others stand by the belief that it was Matthew Maguire, a machinist who later became the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, NJ.

Whoever first thought of the holiday, there is no doubt its purpose was to celebrate the social and economic achievements of America’s workers. As Samuel Gompers, founder and longtime president of the American Federation of Labor once said, “All other holidays are in a more of less degree connected with conflicts and battles of man’s prowess over man, of strife and discord for greed and power, of glories achieved by one nation over another. Labor Day …is devoted to no man, living or dead, to no sect, race or nation.” Labor Day celebrates us all; our achievements and contributions to the strength, prosperity, and safety of our nation.

One of the ways I was proud to increase workers’ rights and honor those who serve was by sponsoring An Act to Assist Maine Military Families. During this past session, this bill was approved by the legislature and signed by the Governor. It was emergency legislation and went into effect immediately upon approval. It provides military families with an opportunity to spend time with a returning service member by allowing for unpaid time off. An Act to Assist Maine Military Families provides families up to 15 days of unpaid leave. This is just one way I aim to keep families together under the most difficult situations and to improve the quality of life for those involved in military service.

I met a parent who has a daughter working for a business who calls her an "on call employee." He relayed to me that she gets called in to work and often they use her for a very short time or make her sit around prior to using her services so they do not have to pay her for her time. Currently I am in the process of submitted legislation that will further protect Maine workers. Many workers are required by their employer to be “on-call.” According to current statute, employers are not required to pay workers who are on-call while at home. I am examining this potential oversight or misuse of the law. I am in looking into ways to address the issue of on-call workers and their right to wages for both going into work and also doing their job.

As your Senator I am committed to work on the issues that face us in District 30. Thank you for allowing me to serve you. For questions or assistance contact me, Senator Elizabeth M. Schneider at 866-7359 or toll free at 1-800-423-6900. You can also contact my legislative aide in Augusta at 287-1515.

TOWNS IN SENATE DISTRICT 30 ARE Alton, Argyle, Bradford, Edinburg, Enfield, Greenbush, Howland, Hudson, Kingman, LaGrange, Lee, Lincoln, Mattawamkeag, Maxfield, Old Town, Orono, Passadumkeag, Penobscot Indian Island, Springfield, Twombly, Veazie, Webster, and Winn.

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.