By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,536)
Just after noon today Mainers for Fair Wages submitted 75,000 verified signatures to the Maine Secretary of State to place an increase in the minimum wage on the November 2016 ballot – far more than the 61,123 required. Supporters marked the event with a rally in the State House Hall of Flags and remarks from more than a dozen Mainers from across the state,many of them making low wages themselves, who helped to collect the signatures, according to a press release issued by Mike Tipping of the Maine People’s Alliance.
Mainers for Fair Wages, a coalition including the Maine People’s Alliance, Maine “small Business Coalition and Maine AFL-CIO, launched the petition process for a citizen initiative to raise Maine’s minimum wage in June. If passed, the initiative would increase the minimum wage of $9 per hour in 2017 and then by $1 a year until it reaches $12 by 2020. After that the wage would increase at the same raise as the cost of living. The initiative would also incrementally raise the sub-minimum tipped wage until it matches the minimum wage for all other workers by 2024.
Raising the state minimum age would directly affect more than 130,000 low wage workers in Maine, most of them women and many of them supporting families, according to calculations by the Economic Policy Institute.
The office of the Secretary of State now has 30 days to review the petitions before referring the initiative to the legislature, which can choose to enact it without change or allow it to be placed on the November ballot.
“From the time I was 15, I’ve had to work a number of minimum wage jobs to help my family make ends meet. As the breadwinner, I was responsible, as a child, for making sure the heat stayed on through the winter, and unfortunately, I often failed in this endeavor,” said Tyler, an employee of a big box store in Bangor. “Recently, I was forced to drop out of school because minimum wage, does not pay enough to get necessities, much less to pay tuition, too. This is the true tragedy of having such a lot minimum wage. No one should have to choose between an education and a pittance. Hard work is supposed to give you the opportunity to pull yourself out of poverty, but $7.50 doesn’t hep you out of poverty. It keeps you in it.”
For more information, please email Mike Tipping at: firstname.lastname@example.org