Portlanders to City Council: No More Delays, Raise the Wage!

Residents deliver postcard messages urging action on minimum wage ordinance

Portland residents, low-wage workers and small business owners delivered stacks of postcard messages to City Council members today urging them to adopt the Mayor’s proposed ordinance to raise the minimum wage.
The Mayor’s proposal calls for a city-wide increase in the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour this year and to $10.68 in the near future. It is unlikely that the finance committee will take up the proposal when they meet Thursday evening, again delaying action on the issue.
“It’s been seven months since the Mayor first proposed this ordinance and we’re still waiting for the City Council to take action,” said MPA Portland Organizer Jennie Pirkl. “Every day that passes without an increase in the minimum wage is another day that low-wage workers in Portland struggle to make ends meet. The rent doesn’t wait.”

Small business owners joined the event and noted how an increase in the minimum wage would stimulate the Portland economy.
“Most small business owners in Portland already pay their employees above the minimum wage, but having this ordinance will ensure we’re on a more level playing field with big businesses that pay low wages,” said Wells Lyons, owner of Rogue-Industries, a Portland-based leather goods manufacturing business. “Raising the minimum wage is good for the local economy because the folks who would benefit the most from raising the minimum wage are also the people who are more likely to spend that extra money in their communities, at local businesses like mine.”
Portland is among a handful of cities in Maine that are considering raising the minimum wage by local ordinance. At the state level, seven bills have been introduced by legislators to raise the minimum wage to levels as varied as $8 to $12 an hour. A report released by the Maine People’s Alliance and the Alliance for a Just Society last week calculated a living wage in Maine should be roughly $15 for a single adult and that more than half of the available jobs in Maine pay less than that number.
“This proposed increase works out to an income of about $20,000 a year – far less than the living wage that Portland residents deserve, but it’s a step in the right direction,” added Pirkl. “Poll after poll shows that an overwhelming majority of Mainers support raising the minimum wage. It doesn’t make sense to leave a proposal on the table that could help so many Portlanders right now.”
“The reality is that the minimum wage needs to be raised significantly everywhere in Maine, for everyone, including tipped workers, and indexed annually to keep up with the cost of living,” said Julia Legler, a restaurant worker from Portland. “We know the City Council can’t do all that alone, but they should at the very least be passing this modest proposal which will help thousands of low-income Portlanders and boost the city’s economy.”