Archives for minimum wage

Maine Currents 5/24/17

Producer/Host: Amy Browne
2nd segment audio recorded by John Greenman

Minimum Wage Increase: Did Mainers Know What They Were Doing?

Last November Mainers voted to gradually increase the state’s minimum wage from the (then) current rate of $7.50 an hour up to $12 an hour by 2020. After 2020 increases would be tied to inflation. Despite the fact that the measure drew strong support, several bills have been introduced in the state legislature that roll back the increases in various ways. In some cases the rate of increase is reduced. Other measures would tweak the formula for tipped staff or for younger workers or those in training.
9 such bills were presented in the legislature back in April, and yesterday the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee held a public hearing on yet another, LD1609 (“An Act To Support Maine’s Employers and Encourage Employers To Hire Young Workers”) and arguments on each side were reiterated.

Some of those who advocate overturning the will of the voters have said Mainers didn’t understand the consequences of their vote. They argue that small businesses will be forced to lay off workers or limit hiring and will pass along costs to consumers.

Supporters of the minimum wage increase say that even the slight increase makes a difference for low wage workers who are often forced into making tough choices with their limited pay. Matt Schlobohm, Executive Director of the Maine AFL-CIO told the committee that the $30 extra per week in one 70-year-old woman’s pocket had allowed her to purchase windshield wiper blades. She had lost her home and was forced to return to work when her husband became disabled, and before the first incremental increase in the minimum wage went into effect in January her budget was so tight that needing new wiper blades would have been a crisis.

On this week’s Maine Currents we listen in as the debate continues

Area Resident Weighs in on Bar Harbor Cruise Ship Pier Proposal
An event in Bucksport last week brought together several environmental groups for a discussion of local issues. “The Future of Our Forests, Rivers, Lakes, Fields and Ocean” was hosted by Maine Common Good Coalition Renata Moise expressed concerns about a new cruise ship pier being proposed in Bar Harbor:

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NOTE: Maine Currents will be moving to Tuesdays (4-5pm) starting in June 2017

RadioActive 7/16/15

Producer/Host: Meredith DeFrancesco
Issue: Environmental and Social Justice

Program Topic: Minimum Wage Ordinance Considered by Bangor City Council

Key Discussion Points:

a) Last night members of the Bangor City Council heard public testimony on an ordinance that would Bangor’s local minimum wage incrementally 75 cents a year for the next three years, and then attach it to the rate of inflation, as delineated by the Consumer Price Index. This would move the current $7.50 an hour state minimum wage to $8.25 an hour in 2016, $9 in 2017 and $9.75 in 2018. Exempt from the proposed ordinance, as currently written, are businesses with three or less employees, tipped employees (specifically restaurant wait staff) and employees under the age of 18. U Maine economics professor Todd Gabe says, this would affect 7% of Bangor’s workforce.

b) Last week, Portland’s City council voted in favor of raising the local minimum wage to $10.10 an hour on January 1st, 2016, to $10.68 on January 1st, 2017, and then index it to inflation in subsequent years.

c) Opponents to the wage increase included the Maine Restaurant Association and others who argued that those at minimum wage were being adequately compensated for their work and skill level and that local government should not be involved in setting labor law. Proponents of the ordinance say that those earning the minimum wage cannot keep up with the cost of living and that there is no action being taken at the state and federal level. The Maine Peoples Alliance and others are working on to put a referendum on the 2016 ballot that would raise the state minimum wage.

Joe Baldacci, Bangor City Council, sponsor of minimum wage ordinance
Dick Grotton, Maine Restaurant Association
Scott Linsky, Bangor resident
Rob Cross, owner of Dairy Queen on Broadway St, Bangor
Randy Wadleigh, Governor’s Restaurants
Jim Marcotte, Bangor resident
Mary Tedesco Schneck, Bangor resident, pediatric nurse practioner
Katherine Kates, Bangor resident
Michael Havlin, Hampden resident, lead researcher for Portland Mayor’s Minimum Wage Advisory Committee,
Dennis Chinoy, Bangor resident
Mike Tipping, Maine Peoples Alliance, Bangor resident

RadioActive 5/1/14

Producer/Host: Meredith DeFrancesco

Program Topic: International Labor Day: National Restaurant Association Lobbies Against Raise in Minimum Wage, While Member CEOs Receive Double Subsidies; Small Business Path to Worker Cooperatives

Key Discussion Points:
*We speak with the co-author of a report published last week titled, “Restaurant Industry Pay: Taxpayers Double Burden: How CEOs are Benefiting from Subsidies While Lobbying to Defeat the Minimum Wage.”
*Looking at alternatives to the current economic structure, we examine worker cooperatives and efforts being made in Maine to transition current businesses into cooperatives, including the Island Employee Cooperative in Stonington, which would include four businesses currently run by owners about to retire.

*Updates: Last month, Delmonte became the 13th retailer to sign onto the Coalition of Immokalee Workers Fair Food Program.

Yesterday, the mayor of Seattle announced an increase in the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, to be phased in over the next 7 years.


A) Sarah Anderson, Institute for Policy Studies, director of Global Economy Project

B) Rob Brown, Cooperative Development Institute, Business Ownership Solutions (BOS) program

RadioActive 4/10/14

Producer/Host: Meredith DeFrancesco

Program Topic: Waterville City Council supports federal minimum wage increase; the LePage administration’s attempts to restrict EBT card use, veto of Medicaid expansion bill

Key Discussion Points:
a) Last month, the Waterville City Council voted unanimously to support to an increase of the federal minimum wage to $10.10 and hour, and to send communications to elected representatives to support the Fair Minimum Wage Act, sponsored by Rep. Miller (D-CA) and Sen. Harkin (D-IA). We speak with the Mayor of Waterville.
b) The LePage administration is attempting to implement a change to include a photo id on EBT cards, which distribute funds for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families). Based on past experiences, low income advocates and federal officials are concerned this would have an undue impact in recipients. 223,891 Mainers hold EBT cards.
c) LePage vetoes a bill that would have expanded Medicaid coverage to 70,00 Mainers under the Affordable Care Act. This is the third time he’s vetoed such a measure.

Mayor Karen Heck of Waterville
Chris Hastedt, Maine Equal Justice Partners, public policy director

RadioActive 3/27/14

Producer/Host: Meredith DeFrancesco

Program Topic: Tour to raise federal minimum wage to $10.10; Wabanaki Tribes continuing struggle to maintain sovereignty and fishing rights

Key Discussion Points:
a) We look at the movement to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour. A bus tour promoting the passage of the Fair Minimum Wage Act stopped in Bangor. Miguel’s Mexican Restaurant of Bangor has just raised their minimum wage to $10.10.
b) We speak with Maine Congressional Representative and gubernatorial candidate, Mike Michaud about the minimum wage and the realities for low income Mainers
c) Passamquoddy tribal member, Vera Francis speaks on state opposition to tribal sovereignty and fishing rights,
specifically around the elver fishery. After long negotiations to come to an agreement that involved recognizing that tribal elver regulations were protective of the fishery and allowed tribal autonomy, Maine’s State Attorney General shut down the process in the 11th hour. The Passamquoddy Tribes own management plan puts a limit on total tribal catch, but allows anyone in the tribe to fish. They argue that this management system is more protective then the state’s permit system.

Congressman Mike Michaud
Laura Fortman, US Dept of Labor
Sean Garceau , manager at Miguel’s Mexican Restaurant, Bangor
Rev. Becky Gunn, Unitarian Universalist Society of Bangor
Vera Francis, Passamaquoddy tribal member, Passamaquoddy Fisheries Committee