Wages in this country and in our state have been stagnant for years. As the cost of living rises, workers are falling further behind every day. As unions, our power at the bargaining table is diminished as fewer workers across the economy have decent wages or benefits.
We need to take action to raise wages. With this in mind, the Maine AFL-CIO has embarked on a campaign to raise Maine’s minimum wage. Currently $7.50 an hour, these low wages are dragging all wages down. Workers who earn minimum wage only take home $12,300 a year for full time work. This is just wrong.
In partnership with the Maine People’s Alliance and the Maine Small Business Coalition, the Maine AFL-CIO collected over 90,000 signatures to put a people’s initiative referendum on the 2016 ballot to raise the minimum wage.
This November, Maine voters will have the opportunity to raise the minimum wage to $9 an hour in 2017, and then by a dollar a year until it reaches $12 an hour in 2020. The minimum wage will then be adjusted annually with the cost of living. Our initiative also gradually eliminates the subminimum wage for tipped workers, so there will be one fair wage for all Maine workers by 2024. Learn more about the campaign at www.fairwagemaine.com.
This referendum, if passed, will raise wages for nearly 1/3 of Maine workers, the approximately 159,000 workers who currently earn less than $12 an hour. It will put more money in the pockets of people who will spend it locally. It will strengthen our economy.