AUGUSTA—Today Governor Paul LePage vetoed a bill that disallowed the use of foreign, bonded workers to harvest timber on state-owned lands. The bill, LD 340, “An Act Regarding Timber Harvesting on State Land,” was sponsored by Senator Troy Jackson of Allagash and was passed to be enacted by the Senate in a vote of 32 – 3 on May 26.
“It’s unfortunate that a Governor who says he’s all about jobs is actually more interested in giving jobs to Canadians rather than Maine workers,” said Sen. Jackson. “The Governor’s veto encourages government to use foreign workers to work on our lands and harvest a Maine product. This is not good for jobs. It’s not good for people. And, it’s certainly not good for the Maine economy.”
LD 340 specifically stipulated that the Department of Conservation, Bureau of Parks and Lands could not contract with businesses that use the H-2A bonded worker program. The H-2A program is a federal program administered under the U.S. Department of Labor for employers who anticipate a shortage of domestic labor for a temporary basis of no more than one year.
“The logging season is about to kick off and there are plenty of northern Mainers that are eager to work,” said Sen. Jackson. “The question I’d like to ask the Governor is ‘whose side are you on?’ His veto sent the message that he’s on the side of our neighbors to the north.”
Sen. Jackson has been a logger in northern Maine for more than thirty years.