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May 5, 2011

Kennebec Journal
Letter to the Editor

Bottle bill pits workers against big business

The expression, "It depends on whose ox is being gored," seems to describe the bottle bill debate.

Big businesses, beverage manufacturers and distributors want returnables to go away.

Of course, that would put the workers, who may "carry heavy objects, stoop, kneel, crouch or crawl in awkward positions and sometimes work at great heights," out of work and dependent on unemployment compensation.

Beverage businesses that support repeal or amendment of bottle redemption might see an increase in their profit, since consumers might buy more of their product if they were not paying the returnable fee. Also, distributors would save 3.5 cents per refund, plus the cost to pick up the returns.

On the other side of the bottle bill are small businesses, laborers, nonprofits and charitable organizations. Without bottle drives to collect money, school and church groups would be less likely to afford the learning experiences of field trips to the capital of this great country, go on band trips or to places like New Orleans to work on volunteer aide projects.

Without bottle refunds, the roadsides would return to being strewn with cans and broken bottles.

I imagine that a reputable business representative coming to look over Maine with an eye to moving here, seeing the roads lined with trash, would wonder what sort of environment we are promoting.

So, even though Gov. Paul LePage hasn't yet made any statement regarding support for weakening the bottle return law, perhaps because his spokesman just resigned, he should try to understand that we, the workers, need employment just as much, if not more, than big business needs a bigger profit margin.

He would do well to remember that we are the oxen on whose backs this state runs.

Sheila C. Stratton



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