The Maine AFL-CIO says a consumer-owned utility would threaten the rights of union workers.
In this Oct. 6, 2021, file photo, Central Maine Power utility lines are seen in Pownal. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

The Maine AFL-CIO is opposing the consumer-owned utility referendum, saying a publicly owned utility would threaten the rights of workers and create uncertainty for consumers.

Union President Cynthia Phinney said the majority of workers at Central Maine Power and Versant Power do not support the proposal, which could prompt a buyout of the two investor-owned utilities and reclassify union workers as public employees.

“If they’re public employees, they could lose their right to withhold their labor which is a fundamental right that we think all employees should have,” Phinney said.

Phinney said legal battles could follow if the referendum passes. Our Power, the coalition behind the referendum, said its proposal protects all of the rights union workers enjoy.

“The threat of legal battles are all the more reason to move forward with this proposal. I would say if that’s a talking point for them, they are relying on fear to keep us from moving forward with bold policy,” said Andrew Blunt, a spokesperson for the Our Power group.

Our Power is currently gathering signatures with the goal of getting the proposal before voters in 2023.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.