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Laura Fortman is the commissioner of the Maine Division of Labor.
The Maine Division of Labor has been working immediately with employers, staff and unions to construct a powerful economic system the place each employee can succeed and each enterprise can thrive.
The commercial revolution dramatically modified work, with individuals transferring from farms to city settings the place working situations similar to poor air flow, low pay, hazardous equipment, and lengthy hours, resulted in employee calls for for change. Labor unrest grew, and staff took to the streets to demand higher working situations and pay — the foundations of “good jobs.”
In recognition of the important contributions of staff, Labor Day was designated as a state vacation in 1891. Since then, the ever-changing economic system resulted in staff gaining different mainstays similar to Social Safety, unemployment insurance coverage and the 40-hour work week, extra girls becoming a member of the workforce, and the civil rights motion spurred additional office protections.
Though union organizing and legislative exercise has led to vital enhancements, staff proceed to face obstacles in right this moment’s economic system.
The pandemic accelerated forecasted workforce challenges. Many individuals at the moment are employed within the “gig” economic system, and synthetic intelligence looms as a disruptive pressure in the way forward for work. It’s unclear what the longer term might be, nevertheless we all know that staff’ voices are going to be essential in crafting options that enable staff and companies to thrive.
Maine’s unemployment charge is at a file low of two.4 p.c. Mainers have quite a few choices when on the lookout for work, and are persevering with to demand protected working situations and truthful compensation. Moreover, respect on the job and a wholesome work-life steadiness have risen as priorities for workers. Nationally, we’re seeing elevated organizing, strikes, and advocacy for higher workplaces.
In response, the federal authorities has crafted a “Good Jobs Initiative.” The U.S. Departments of Commerce and Labor partnered to establish what includes job, making a framework for staff, companies, unions, authorities and others for a shared imaginative and prescient of job high quality.
The ideas revolve round: recruitment and hiring; advantages; variety, fairness, inclusion, and accessibility; empowerment and illustration; job safety and dealing situations; organizational tradition; pay; and expertise and profession development.
In Maine, there was an funding in increasing outreach to those that have usually been left on the sidelines of our workforce, similar to these with disabilities, new Mainers/immigrants, veterans, youth, older staff, girls, those that had been previously incarcerated and people in restoration. The aim is to extend alternatives to high quality jobs for everybody, and increase the pool of gifted staff employers can join with.
The ideas additionally acknowledge the significance of advantages that help households – together with paid depart. This yr, Gov. Janet Mills signed an historic finances that features the creation of a paid household and medical depart program, making Maine the thirteenth state to determine one. Starting in 2026, eligible staff within the non-public and public sector may have as much as 12 weeks of paid day without work accessible to them for household or medical causes. As info turns into accessible, it is going to be posted on the division’s web site.
Employees should even have the instruments and help to achieve expertise that advance their profession, both inside their organizations or exterior them. A method that MDOL works with employers, unions, and staff to do that is thru mutually useful registered apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships. One instance is the Maine AFL-CIO’s new Union Building Academy of Maine. Funded by the Maine Jobs and Restoration Plan, these pre-apprentices are studying precious development expertise and incomes certifications similar to OSHA-10 and First-Help/CPR/AED. The pre-apprentices, a lot of whom have been girls, in re-entry packages or refugees, then have the choice to transition to a union apprenticeship program the place they’ll earn whereas they study precious expertise.
The fixed amidst all of this modification is the necessity for the voices of extraordinary staff to be central in our workplaces and communities, and in our democratic governance. It’s these extraordinary staff of right this moment, yesterday and tomorrow that we honor this Labor Day.