For those who've been following the strange story of the "Help Jack DeCoster" bill in the Maine legislature, a couple of breaking items to report:
First, the bill -- LD 1207 -- just passed the Maine house moments ago, 74-68, after its sponsor, Rep. Dale Crafts (R-Lisbon), presented a new argument as to why it should pass. The bill -- which will take away workers' right to unionize at the notorious egg magnates' companies -- is allegedly the only thing standing in the way of DeCoster making a big sale. The Senate will consider the bill shortly.
DeCoster's Quality Egg LLC, Rep. Crafts alleged on the State House floor today, is about to be sold to the Minnesota-based agricultural cooperative Land O' Lakes, Inc., but the deal will supposedly fall apart if LD 1207 is not passed. As the Sun Journal's Steve Mistler reports, Land O' Lakes has unionized facilities elsewhere in the country, which raises questions about the accuracy of Rep. Crafts' assertions. (As previously reported, he gave erroneous testimony on the bill before the labor committee earlier this session.)
As I reported a few weeks ago in the Portland Phoenix, the infamous egg magnate Austin "Jack" DeCoster has some friends in the Maine state legislature, which has been considering a law to help out his companies. That initiative may get voted on as early as today.
I have a magazine piece about all this in the forthcoming issue of Down East, but readers won't see that until after the legislature votes on L.D. 1207, an act that will free Mr. DeCoster's companies from the worry that their workers might one day unionize. The Down East article sheds light on the question many have about Mr. DeCoster: how does he keep getting away with it? But there are a couple timely details to report straightaway. Read more »
Ever wonder how Jack DeCoster, Maine's infamous egg magnate, has gotten away with it after all these years? One reason is that regardless of what he does -- triggers the largest egg recall in history, gets investigated for cruelty to his birds, gets fined for virtually imprisoning his Latino workers, falsifies trucking records, leaves mounds of dead chickens out in the open and won't bury them until sued -- he always seems to find friends willing to help him out.
Case in point: this week Maine legislators are considering a bill to do DeCoster a favor by depriving his workers of the minimum wage, overtime, and collective bargaining rights. Read the whats, whos, and whys in my piece in the new Portland Phoenix, which dropped today. (Also, check out Steve Mistler's earlier Sun Journal coverage of the bill's hearing.)
And, for your moment of Zen, here's a recent video of Gov. Paul LePage telling a conference of homeschoolers that he favors teaching creationism in Maine's public schools because "knowledge is power."
(Cross-posted from World Wide Wodard)