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March 13, 2023

King, Golden Introduce Bill to Help Young Mainers Work at Family Logging Operations

Bill would help train next generation of Maine loggers as industry experiences job decline

WASHINGTON —  Senator Angus King (I-ME) and Congressman Jared Golden (ME-02) reintroduced their Future Logging Careers Act this week with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (ME-01) as cosponsors. The bipartisan, bicameral bill would allow small logging businesses to safely train 16- and 17-year-old family members for future careers in the Maine forest products industry.

“Logging has been fundamental to the success of our state for centuries – creating good jobs, supporting working families, and providing essential economic activity across rural areas,” said Senator King. “As a new generation of Maine people consider careers in logging, we should be providing opportunities to explore the exciting field in a safe, managed way. The bipartisan Future Logging Careers Act would give young Maine people the option to jumpstart their career, get invaluable hands-on experience, and begin training by logging with their parents or grandparents. It’s a commonsense effort to strengthen our state’s long forest heritage and expand job opportunities.”

“Family-owned businesses are a tradition of Maine’s forest economy and their ability to pass down the trade to future generations is a priority,” said Congressman Golden. “This is a commonsense solution to workforce shortages and to the current law which prevents young Mainers from working in the family business. Our bipartisan bill will allow young Mainers to get an early start learning the family trade and lay the foundation of a good living in the woods.”

“Maine’s logging industry is an integral part of our economy and continues to be the primary economic driver of many rural communities throughout our state.  The industry relies on mechanized equipment, and it can take a year or more of training before an operator is able to operate these machines.  To alleviate the worker shortage, provide good jobs, and keep the forest products industry strong, it is essential that the next generation be prepared for the logging profession,” said Senator Collins. “This bipartisan legislation will help parents who own logging businesses to pass down their skills to their children and teach them how to safely harvest timber.” 

“For generations, Maine’s logging industry has been a vital part of our economy, creating jobs and building thriving rural communities. But like many businesses in Maine and across the country, the workforce shortage is taking a toll on loggers. We need to start fostering the next generation of Maine loggers now to ensure the future of this centuries-old industry,” said Congresswoman Pingree. “The Future Logging Careers Act will help ease the workforce shortage and foster new careers, both strengthening Maine and its logging industry.”

“The logging and forest trucking industry has a proud history in Maine, but its future is uncertain without common-sense Congressional action on issues like this one," said Dana Doran, Executive Director of the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine (PLC). “The industry is built on a foundation of small family businesses that have been passed down from generation to generation, and which provide jobs to thousands of Mainers while contributing millions of dollars to our state's economy. The Future Logging Careers Act will ensure that these businesses can sustain themselves for the long term. This legislation is long overdue, and Representatives Golden and Pingree as well as Senators Collins and King should be applauded for their leadership and persistence in reintroducing it in both the House and Senate as they work together to protect the future of the industry in Maine."

The legislation would help address a logging workforce shortage that exists in some areas of Maine and is expected to worsen in the coming years. A study conducted by the University of Maine found that the total number of jobs in the logging industry in Maine declined 6% more than the national average between 2014 and 2021. 

Currently, 16- and 17-year-old Mainers are not allowed to partake in logging operations, even under parental supervision. This new legislation would make changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to allow young Mainers to gain this important experience, while also ensuring that particularly dangerous equipment — like manual chain saws — is still prohibited for use by minors.

The legislation was also introduced in 2021 and  2019.

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