By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,351)
The City Council passed a minimum wage proposal that aligns perfectly with Mayor Michael Brennan’s original proposal rather than with the watered down recommendation coming from the cit’s Finance Committee, chaired by Councilor Nick Mavadones. (He expected to make his announcement on whether he will run again for City Council any day now.) The vote in favor of the proposal was 6 – 3. The proposal was endorsed by the Mayor, and Councilors Justin Costa and Jon Hinck. Ed Suslovic, who is running for Mayor, tried unsuccessfully to delay the vote until later this month., for some strange justification that didn’t make much sense. The vote came at 11:30 pm after several hours of deliberations and much testimony from the public on both sides of the issue.
The first wage increase comes on January 1, 2016 in the amount of $10.10 an hour. Then starting on January 1, 2017, the minimum wage goes
up to $10.68 per hour. Then beginning on every first day of July following January 1, 2018 and every first day of July thereafter, the minimum age would be increased according to the Consumer Price Index, which is indexed for inflation. Many of the opponents of the proposal were emphatically against tying the increase to the CPI in future years. However, Councilor Kevin Donoghue wondered if it would be adequate in view of the recent news that Portland’s rent increases have risen 17% – the second highest in the U.S. – this despite the old and out-of-date rental housing stock.
“The Maine Women’s Lobby applauds the Portland City Council for choosing to help working families take a big step forward on the road to prosperity with its decision tonight. For the Portland community – and indeed all communities across Maine – to prosper, we must ensure that all jobs pay at least enough to meet the basic needs of working families. When our neighbors cannot afford to buy food, pay for a place to live, heat their homes and cover the other the other basic expenses we all face each day, it hurts the whole city. By raising the minimum wage that workers can earn, Portland’s leaders have decided to invest in Portland people and the local economy,” wrote Eliza Townsend, executive director of the non-profit.