Strikes, Lockouts and Other "Economic Weapons": Maine
Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.
Author: Linda D. McGill, Bernstein Shur Sawyer & Nelson
- Private employees in Maine are permitted to strike and to take other protest and economic pressure measures as permitted by the National Labor Relations Act. See Right to Strike.
Right to Strike
Maine has no law that limits the rights of private sector employees to strike. Strike rights may be exercised by private sector employees as provided by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and administered for Maine by Region 1, the Boston- based office of the National Labor Relations Board. Maine law provides protection for striking workers beyond the NLRA.
The Maine Strikebreaker law prohibits employers from hiring strikebreakers, defined as "any person who customarily offers himself for employment in place of any employee involved in a labor strike or lockout in which the person, partnership, union or firm is not directly involved", during a labor dispute. See +26 M.R.S.A. § 851 through +26 M.R.S.A. § 856.
Maine law also prohibits taking applications, interviewing or conducting medical exams for replacement workers at the worksite of an employer currently engaged in a labor dispute with its employees and requires notification to local law enforcement officials when the employer conducts hiring activities off-site. See +26 M.R.S.A. § 595 (1)-(4). Security personnel and others at the site of a labor dispute may not be armed with dangerous weapons as defined in the Maine Criminal Code. See +26 M.R.S.A. § 595 (5).
Unemployment Benefits during a Strike or Lockout
An employee participating, financing or directly interested in a strike that causes a stoppage of work will not be eligible for unemployment benefits during the labor dispute. The employee will be disqualified from receiving benefits until one of the following occurs:
- He or she has earned eight times their weekly benefit amount in employment "covered" under the unemployment law;
- He or she has been employed for five full weeks in employment "covered" under the unemployment law; or
- The Department of Labor determines that a "stoppage of work" no longer exists.
On the other hand, employees who have been locked out by their employer are eligible for unemployment benefits. See +26 M.R.S.A. § 1193(4)(E).
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