By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,250)
A petition drive to increase the minimum wage in Portland to $15.00 per hour will begin its signature gathering process on Friday, April 3rd during the monthly First Friday Artwalk. That’s next week. The goal of the organizers is to place the proposed ordinance on the November 2015 ballot for local voters to vote up or down.
The citizen initiative seeks to create a municipal minimum wage of $15. an hour by 2019 with the wage rising according to the Consumer Price Index thereafter. Both tipped and non-tipped workers alike will see wage rises. The tip-credit will still be based on State law, the effective minimum wage for tipped workers will be $11.25 per hour once the phase-in period ends.
Petitioners must collect at least 1,500 signatures within 80 days of receiving the petitions from the city of Portland. The petitioners intend to collect at least 3,000 total signatures. This action is precipitated by the Portland Green Independent Committee, chaired by Tom MacMillan. You may reach McMillan at: firstname.lastname@example.org. At 3:00 pm today, MacMillan and his Committee will submit an affidavit and final ordinance language to the Portland City Clerk.
This proposed ordinance drive is the outgrowth of Mayor Michael Brennan’s establishment of a task force last year to increase the minimum wage in Portland, although not to $15.00 an hour. MacMillan was a member of the Mayor task force and was unsuccessful in recruiting members to support his wage proposal of $15. per hour. Steve DiMillo, of DiMillo’s Seafood Restaurant, Commercial Street, was an outspoken leader in the effort of local businessmen to defeat that proposal. The Mayor’s proposal is currently stalled in the Finance Committee.
On January 25, 2015 Governor Paul LePage (R) wrote to Mayor Brennan and the Portland City Council regarding the proposed minimum wage proposal. LePage predicted a successful court challenge should the City Council pass such an ordinance, although he did not say from where that challenge might come.
“This ordinance will inject more money into the hands of working Portlanders and the local economy. Workers cannot survive on less than $15. an hour in this city any longer,” said McMillan, PGIC chair in a press release he issued.