GOP again sides with offshoring corporations over American workers

Posted: July 20, 2017 | Senator Jackson

Republican-controlled Senate kills Jackson’s “Buy America, Build Maine Act”

AUGUSTA — Majority Republicans in the Maine Senate on Thursday voted to uphold Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of the “Buy America, Build Maine Act,” which would have required the State of Maine to support American manufacturing and the creation of jobs in Maine when it contracts for public works or services.

“It’s easy to claim you support American workers and Maine businesses. But time and time again, when push comes to shove, Republican politicians can’t be counted on to put their votes where their mouths are,” said Senate Democratic Leader Troy Jackson, the bill’s sponsor. ““State contracts create jobs and economic activity, and our state’s residents deserve to know that their elected officials won’t pass them over to give those jobs to someone else. If the State of Maine has business to do, that business should be done by Maine companies and Maine workers. Our state spends millions of taxpayer dollars on contracted services every year. Those funds should support Maine’s workers and economy, not line the pockets of out-of-state companies or foreign manufacturers.”

“This isn’t my first time trying to put American manufacturers and Maine workers first, and it won’t be my last,” continued Sen. Jackson. “Too many people have lost their livelihoods when businesses put corporate profits over American jobs. Maine should have no part in that. I will pass this legislation or die trying.”

The bill, LD 956, was a bipartisan effort with co-sponsors from both parties in the House and Senate. However, on Thursday, the Senate voted 17-14 to send the bill to the Special Highway Table, a procedural motion designed to kill the bill. Ironically, as every Senate Republican present voted for the motion to effectively doom the bill, Republicans in Washington, D.C., were commemorating “Made in America Week.”

Under current law, there’s little to stop the state from sending taxpayer dollars out of state, or from supporting companies that have outsourced jobs.

LD 956, would have required that all public works contracts contain a provision requiring that manufactured goods, including iron and steel, must be manufactured in the United states. It also would have required that if two or more substantially similar bids are submitted for a public works contract, preference be given to a bid submitted by an in-state contractor. If an in-state contractor submits a higher bid than an out-of-state contractor, the bill would have required the state to give the Maine contractor an opportunity to match the low bid.

During a public hearing held on LD 956 earlier this year, several business owners, workers and labor activists testified in support of the bill. C.B. Smith, co-founder and CEO of Virtual Managed Solutions in Caribou, said his company had submitted a bid for a five-year state contract for web services. Despite his bid scoring well, his company was passed over in favor of a Massachusetts company whose bid was $1 million higher than his.

“If we’d won that contract, we could have hired 24 more employees in the short term, and eight full-time, permanent employees,” Smith said. “That would have a been a 25 percent growth in our workforce, and no small increase in money being spent in Central Aroostook County. By awarding this contract to an out-of-state company, the state left our community behind.”

Patrick Carleton works at the Sappi paper mill in Skowhegan. He’s worked in manufacturing for most of his life, only to see most of his employers pack up to move overseas.

“Maine’s tax dollars should not be used to reward companies that have moved their operations, investment dollars and jobs to foreign countries that disregard worker safety and environmental standards,” he said. “… It’s time for Maine to lead the way in saving the jobs we have and focusing on the creation of jobs that will support American manufacturing and Maine workers.”