A campaign to launch a city ordinance that would require all employers in Maine to offer their employees an earned paid sick leave occurred at Longfellow Square this morning, Labor Day. The proposal is on the Portland City Council agenda for September 18, 2017 and if enacted, Portland would be the only municipality in Maine to require that of all its businesses – regardless of size – and for up to six days.
“This is a women’s issue……because the people who serve us coffee, take care of our parents…are women,” said Eliza Townsend, executive director of the Maine Women’s Lobby, a co-sponsor of the event this morning.
“As someone who works over 40 hours a week, six days a week, I know how detrimental unexpectedly missing a day of work can be. Being sick can be enough to prevent someone making less than he livable wage to be unable to pay bills or even rent on time. We are talking about 42% of the working population. Almost half of us are paid less than what is deemed a comfortable yearly….With increasing numbers of people working 40+ hours a week and still making less than a livable wage from a moral standpoint I see this program as a necessity to those hardest working and least earning,” said Ivan Marrinson. (See above left photo.)
“We will work together, heal together and fight for what is right,” said Erin Hennessey, staff organizer for the Southern Maine Workers’ Center, a co-sponsor of the proposed ordinance. The non-profit will be moving its office from Washington Avenue to North Street later this month.
Jenn Thompson, of Portland Buy Local, said its 430 business members will be surveyed to determine whether or not they support this proposed ordinance. Those results will be made public in the coming weeks.
Similar policies as the one proposed for Portland are in place in twenty-nine cities around the country as well as in seven states including Massachusetts, Vermont and Connecticut. Eight cities roughly the same size of Portland, including East Orange, NJ and Santa Monica, Ca. have successful similar policies in place.