Last Thursday, Mainers for Fair Wages submitted 75,000 plus verified signatures to Secretary of State Dunlap’s office to place a minimum wage increase on the November ballot. Supporters and signature gatherers assembled for a rally in the State House’s Hall of Flags.
Mainers for Fair Wages, a coalition including the Maine People’s Alliance, Maine Small Business Coalition, and Maine AFL-CIO, launched the petition process for a citizen initiative to raise Maine’s minimum wage in June. If passed, the initiative would increase the minimum wage to $9 per hour in 2017 and then by $1 a year until it reaches $12 by 2020. After that the wage would increase at the same rate as the cost of living. The initiative would also incrementally raise the sub-minimum tipped wage until it matches the minimum wage for all other workers by 2024.
- Adam Lee – Chairman, Lee Automalls, Auburn
- Benjamin Waxman – Co-owner, American Roots, Portland
- April Thibodeau – Volunteer and restaurant server, Westport Island
- Adelaide Manirakiza – Homecare worker, Westbrook
Prepared remarks of other speakers:
- Katie Logue, Auburn: “I work at a convenience store for just over the state minimum wage and I struggle to support myself and my family. When you’re this close to the edge, one emergency can ruin everything. It wasn’t too long ago that we were forced to live in a homeless shelter, while I was working full time but unable to keep up with the bills. It just isn’t right that there are people like me all over the state who are working hard every day but can’t get ahead. That’s why I helped to collect hundreds of signatures to get this measure on the ballot, boost our state economy and help tens of thousands of struggling Mainers.”
- Melissa Stevens, Lewiston: “I’m a single mother and I know what it’s like to work low wage jobs and not be able to make ends meet. On $8 an hour it was impossible to afford basic necessities for my family like childcare, transportation and keeping a roof over our heads. While I was working full time I still needed to rely on food assistance to be able to feed my family. I joined the minimum wage campaign last fall to collect signatures to support this initiative and I am thrilled to be here today with so many community leaders from all walks of life as we submit far more than enough signatures to place this referendum on the ballot.”
- Esther Pew, Portland: “I am working as a tipped worker at a restaurant and a boost in my base wage would mean that I would not have to rely solely on tips in order to support myself. It’s hard to stick to a budget and be financially responsible when your wages can fluctuate drastically from one shift to the next. Getting a steady paycheck from my employer, and not just tips from my customers, would be a boost for me and thousands of tipped workers, mostly women, working in restaurants all over Maine.”
- Tyler Williams, Bangor: “From the time I was 15, I’ve had to work a number of minimum wage jobs to help my family make ends meet. As the breadwinner, I was responsible, as a child, for making sure the heat stayed on through the winter, and unfortunately, I often failed in this endeavor. Recently, I was forced to drop out of school because minimum wage, does not pay enough to get necessities, much less to pay tuition, too. This is the true tragedy of having such a low minimum wage. No one should have to choose between an education and a pittance. Hard work is supposed to give you the opportunity to pull yourself out of poverty, but $7.50 doesn’t help you out of poverty. It keeps you in it.”
- Brandy Staples, Phippsburg: “When I was 26, I was diagnosed with aggressive stage four breast cancer. I had to leave the workforce for in order to deal with it and regain my health and strength. Since then, I have had a hard time finding dependable and livable wage work that allows me to make ends meet while still paying off huge amounts of medical debt. I currently work two part time jobs at very close to minimum wage, plus I help my parents with their business. With these three jobs, I still don’t make enough to get by. I heard similar stories all the time while I was collecting signatures to get this initiative on the ballot. That’s what motivated me to collected more than 600 signatures last summer and fall. Raising Maine’s minimum wage to $12/hour will help me get on my feet and will help so many others like me.”
The Secretary of State’s office has 30 days to review the petitions and refer the matter to the Legislature to either enact without change or allow placement on the November ballot.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
On Monday the 127th Maine Legislature’s Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development (LCRED) Committee heard testimony on eight bills relating to modifying the state’s minimum wage, which currently sits at $7.50 an hour and has not been increased since 2006. A bill to raise it was passed by the 126th Legislature last year, but was vetoed by Governor LePage and later sustained.
Link here to the bills:
- LD 36 (sponsored by Rep. Jeff Evangelos)
- LD 52 (sponsored by Rep. Danny Martin)
- LD 72 (sponsored by Rep. Scott Hamann)
- LD 77 (sponsored by Sen. Dave Miramant)
- LD 92 (sponsored by Rep. Dillon Bates)
- LD 487 (sponsored by Rep. Ben Chipman)
- LD 843 (sponsored by Rep. Gina Melaragno)
- LD 739 (sponsored by Sen. Tom Saviello)
Some of the statements released yesterday are below.
- Rep. Gina Melaragno (D-Auburn): “Maine workers find themselves working at least full time but still living in or near poverty, while having to care for their families at the same time. They have seen the prices of everything go up except the price of their undervalued labor, and they are tired of being thrown a small token raise every five or six years. They want meaningful, lasting change.”
Sen. Dave Miramant (D-Camden): “When I looked back at the value of the minimum wage, it hit an all-time high just as I was starting to work in 1969. The minimum wage was $1.60 per hour but that gave me the equivalent of a $10.19 wage in 2015 dollars. This is why we were able to start a large middle class through this period. We have been falling behind ever since! Because we have failed to tie the minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), or some reliable method of indexing it to inflation, workers are being left behind in this state and in many others. The jobs that were supposed to be entry level and only short term have become an ongoing reality for far too many workers in our hobbled economy.”
Matt Schlobohm, Maine AFL-CIO Executive Director: “People who work full time should not live in poverty. People who work hard should be able to earn enough to make ends meet. It’s long overdue that Maine workers get a raise. A meaningful increase in the minimum wage would improve the wages of hundreds of thousands of Mainers. It would spur economic activity and pump millions of dollars into the Maine economy. Its good economics, its the right thing to do, and it’s long overdue. We need to raise wages across the board. All throughout Maine, working families are living paycheck to paycheck and struggling to make ends meet. Workers wages are simply not keeping pace with rising costs. Raising the minimum wage is a first step in a larger effort to build an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few.”
Ben Chin, political director for Maine Peoples Alliance: “I’m here today to testify primarily in support of LD 843, “An Act to Raise the Minimum Wage and Index it to the National Average Wage,” sponsored by Rep Melaragno. We (MPA) believe that LDs 36, 52, 72, 77, 92, 487, and 739 offer encouraging steps in the right direction. But LD 843 offers the most significant movement towards a living wage for all Maine workers. The reality is that need an even larger increase than what LD 843 offers. A living wage in Maine for a single adult, on average, is $15.82. Fifty-five percent of job openings in Maine pay less than that. For every job that pays $15.82, there are twelve job-seekers on average. The most basic premise of the American economic social contract is that you can work forty hours a week and make ends meet. Our minimum wage of $7.50 an hour for non-tipped workers doesn’t get an individual even halfway there—let alone their families.”
Ginette Rivard, President of MSEA-SEIU Local 1989: “Five and a half years ago years ago, on Oct. 1, 2009, Maine added 25 cents to its minimum wage, bringing it to $7.50 an hour. It’s been stuck there ever since – even as the cost of living has gone up for all of us.
Take a look at what is happening in the rest of New England and you’ll see the State of Maine – and thousands of Maine’s working families – have fallen far behind when it comes to the minimum wage.
Vermont’s minimum wage is $9.15 – and rising to $10.50 in 2018.
In Massachusetts, the wage is $9 – and rising to $11 in 2017.
In Rhode Island, the wage is $9.
And in Connecticut, the wage is $9.15 – and rising to $10.10 in 2017.
Yet Maine has been stuck at $7.50. Maine would be dead last in New England but for New Hampshire joining in a dangerous race to the bottom by falling back to the federal minimum wage of $7.25. A Maine worker putting in 40 hours at minimum wage grosses $300 a week. That’s $15,600 a year, before taxes. That’s not nearly enough for one person to live on, let alone a family.”
Here in order are videos (ten in all) of the entire day in LCRED.
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(UPDATED) Breaking: LePage Met “Multiple Times” with FBI Known Domestic Terrorist Group, Discussed Executing Democratic Leaders
(UPDATE) Before even hitting “send” on this draft write-up, there have been new developments of note (“LePage denies he discussed ‘executing’ Maine Democratic leaders”), as LePage has this evening called the managing editor of the Bangor Daily News- twice– and has either claimed:
- That this all didn’t happen/ portions of it happened.
- There was no five page memo/ well, maybe there was/ well, okay, there WAS a five page memo regarding the legality of arresting and executing members of Democratic leadership.
- He was going to sue both the BDN and Mike Tipping for the story.
Things definitely heating up quickly in Augusta, as a portion of Mike Tipping’s “As Maine Went” was released today implicating Maine Governor Paul R. LePage Sr of meeting multiple times with a known domestic terrorist group and directing his legal staff to investigate the legality of arresting and executing two of his Democratic rivals, Senate President Justin Alfond and Speaker of the House Mark Eves.
Yes- you read that right- “Arrest and Execute”.
- They (Jack McCarthy and Steve Martin, hosts of the Aroostook Watchmen radio show) also had something more locally relevant to talk about: McCarthy’s hour-and-a-half meeting, two days earlier, with Maine Governor Paul LePage.
The meeting with the governor had taken place two days after McCarthy and a group of fellow conspiracy theorists calling themselves the Constitutional Coalition held a press conference at the State House. They stood behind a podium in the Hall of Flags (just outside LePage’s suite of offices) and announced that the president of the Maine Senate, the speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, and Governor LePage had all violated their oaths and should be removed from office. The group explained that they had submitted a set of “remonstrances” to all three government officials on January 14 accusing them of acting unlawfully and had received no reply. Under their unique interpretation of the Maine Constitution, this meant that all three politicians must surrender their elected offices. The men were there to announce their intention to enforce that judgment.
One of the participants, Constitutional Coalition leader Wayne Leach, made reference to the American Revolution and declared that “hopefully this remonstrance, which uses words, will be sufficient. The weapons, I hope, will not be used.”
When LePage heard that they had been asking for a meeting with him and been denied one by his own staff, he quickly took matters into his own hands to rectify the situation:
This time, however, word of the remonstrances and the press conference made it past the executive office gatekeepers and to the attention of Governor LePage himself. Rather than ignoring the submission and its radical claims, LePage called Merletti at home at 9 a.m. the next morning in order to set up a meeting for that Saturday with members of the Constitutional Coalition. According to a note that Merletti sent to his e-mail list later that day and that was forwarded to LePage and members of his staff, the governor was angry that he hadn’t heard about the remonstrances earlier, and during the call he pledged to fire any staffers found to have been keeping the information from him.
From later that month comes this first-hand account of that meeting.
- After nearly a year of Governor Paul LePage being kept away from the Maine Constitutional Coalition, allegedly by the Republicans in Name Only (RINOs) at the Maine Heritage Policy Center, he was finally able to meet with Coalition members.
“After we got into the office, I was so relieved. He was cordial, he was open, frank and expressed frustration that we had so much trouble getting to him and he had so much trouble responding to us,” said Jack McCarthy, co-host of the Aroostook Watchmen radio program on AM780 in Monticello, Maine.“This was not an inquisition into our governor,” said McCarthy. “It was not, ‘we’re going to hold you accountable and this is what you did wrong.’ That was not the purpose of this Remonstrance. The purpose of this Remonstrance was to delineate the abuses of the Constitution and demand a resolution.”
Wayne Leach confirmed the multiple meetings:
- Leach, who was reached Monday night at his home in Winslow, confirmed that he and other members of the Constitutional Coalition met privately seven or eight times last year with LePage.
Leach said his group reached out to a number of state officials – including Alfond and Eves – but LePage was the only one who agreed to sit down with them and who would listen to their grievances. He said the governor listened to their concerns and “was on base with us” for several weeks.
Those meetings ended “abruptly” in August or September on the advice of the governor’s lawyers, according to Leach.
“Eventually he shut us off and we came to a dead end,” Leach said.
Here’s what the FBI says about these “sovereign citizens”.
- The FBI considers sovereign-citizen extremists as comprising a domestic terrorist movement, which, scattered across the United States, has existed for decades, with well-known members, such as Terry Nichols, who helped plan the Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, bombing. Sovereign citizens do not represent an anarchist group, nor are they a militia, although they sometimes use or buy illegal weapons. Rather, they operate as individuals without established leadership and only come together in loosely affiliated groups to train, help each other with paperwork, or socialize and talk about their ideology. They may refer to themselves as “constitutionalists” or “freemen,” which is not necessarily a connection to a specific group, but, rather, an indication that they are free from government control. They follow their own set of laws. While the philosophies and conspiracy theories can vary from person to person, their core beliefs are the same: The government operates outside of its jurisdiction. Because of this belief, they do not recognize federal, state, or local laws, policies, or regulations.
Upon initial news of the book’s excerpts, Senate President Justin Alfond (D-Cumberland) and Speaker of the House Mark Eves (D- N. Berwick) today issued the following statements as part of a joint press release:
- Legislative Leaders Condemn LePage’s Meetings with Domestic Terrorists
During meetings, Sovereign citizens discussed “arrest and execution” of Alfond, Eves
AUGUSTA— Senate President Justin Alfond of Portland and House Speaker Mark Eves of North Berwick released the following statements in response to reports that Governor Paul LePage met with and encouraged the Sovereign Citizens, a domestic terrorist movement, associated with violence against public officials nationally.
According to published excerpts of As Maine Went, a new book from Maine blogger and author Mike Tipping, reveals that LePage met with the group eight times for up to three hours. Tipping says, “The central topic of conversation for most of the meetings was the sovereigns’ “remonstrances,” documents they said gave them the authority to arrest and execute Maine House Speaker Mark Eves and Senate President Justin Alfond for treason. LePage indulged and supported the sovereign’s beliefs. He allowed them to present a number of conspiracy theories, told them he agreed with their interpretation of state law, promised to publicize their beliefs, discussed with them the arrest and hanging of Eves and Alfond and brought in Sheriff Randall Liberty to pursue their case, among other actions.
“It is disturbing and irresponsible for Governor LePage to have ongoing meetings with people who are dangerous and known to be domestic terrorists,” said Senate President Justin Alfond of Portland. “We have zero tolerance for threats of violence, whether on the playground or at the State House. And instead of shutting it down, Governor LePage entertained their delusional thoughts and gave these people a voice.”
According to Tipping’s report, Governor LePage began meeting with the Sovereign Citizens during his campaign and held his first meeting about the remonstrances on February 2, 2013. The eighth and final meeting between LePage and the Sovereign Citizens was held on September 14, 2013. Governor LePage rebuffed repeated requests by the Senate President and House Speaker to meet for the first three months they held office. In total, the leaders have met with the Governor only 11 times in two years.
The Sovereign Citizens came to the Offices of the Senate President and Speaker of the House on multiple occasions during the Legislative Session to deliver remonstrances and delivered them to their private homes. The authorities, including Capitol Police and the FBI, were notified immediately by legislative staff members on those occasions.
The governor’s office then tried to dismiss today’s news as part of LePage’s ongoing discussions with constituents, but were unwilling to clarify as to why the group met with the governor eight times, nor allegations that the group called for the arrests and executions of Democratic legislative leaders:
In a prepared statement, the governor’s press secretary Adrienne Bennett, said that LePage has met with “hundreds of Mainers hearing thousands of ideas, concerns and suggestions.” She added, that “hearing those ideas during constituent meetings does not translate to the Governor endorsing the ideas of others.”
“The Governor meets also with lawmakers, including Sen. Alfond and Speaker Eves,” Bennett said. “Those meetings do not constitute agreement with their views, as well. Lawmakers and constituents do not speak for the Governor.”
Bennett did not address why LePage met with the group eight times, why a county sheriff was asked to look into their demands or why the governor’s legal staff was asked to draft an opinion of the group’s claims that Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland, and House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, should be arrested and executed.
It’s now “Defcon 5 Damage Control Time” for the Maine Republican Party, as they find themselves in the spin cycle and about to go through in the wringer!
Top of the order for Team LePage, as newly minted campaign spokesman Alex Willette came out swinging and in his first at-bat, clumsily fouled it off his own foot:
- Alexander Willette, a spokesman for LePage’s campaign, dismissed Tipping and his book, saying the campaign would not respond to the book’s claims.
“We are not going to respond to the dribbling out of off-the-wall attacks from a shadowy left-wing special interest group,” said Willette, a state representative from Mapleton and assistant House Republican leader who is not seeking re-election in 2014. “This book is just a ploy for attention from the author, who seems desperate to pull the wool over the people’s eyes and sell more of his books.”
No Batter, No Batter, S-W-I-I-I-N-G, Batter!!!
Next up- David Sorensen attacked Tipping/ Maine People’s Alliance by retweeting an obscure reference… (assist by Jason Savage)
— Rufus King (@RufusKingGuy) June 30, 2014
Bunt- didn’t even get out of the batter’s box! Sorensen decided to evoke some Eliot Cutler…
— David Sorensen (@DSorensenME) June 30, 2014
Swing anna miss; that’s Strike 2 for Sorensen! So he next went after former Maine Governor John Baldacci…
— David Sorensen (@DSorensenME) June 30, 2014
And… Strike 3; yer outta here!
Next up, Jason Savage, captain of the Maine GOP team:
If only libs doing 'guilt by association' attacks on LePage would apply same rule to Obama and some of our foreign "allies". #mepolitics
— Jason Savage (@jsavage207) June 30, 2014
Neat work here by Prof. Amy Fried, who easily caught that pop-up and ended the inning.
— Amy Fried (@ASFried) July 1, 2014
This is a still-evolving story and will be updated as needed.
MPA executive director Jesse Graham sent out the following video clip late last week, announcing the official kick-off of the organization’s “Fair Share” campaign. Some of the accompanying email blast:
“If everyone, including the wealthiest, pays their fair share in taxes and everyone gets a fair shot at opportunity, we can all have a stronger, better state.
Jobs, health care, education and the economy are all connected, and by tackling them together we can make life better for everyone.
We need to elect the right legislators here in Maine that will stop Governor LePage’s extreme agenda and put us on the path to a Fair Share economy and then we need to continue our campaign to hold them accountable and achieve our vision for the state.”
Here is the clip and information from their website about the initiative.
“It’s time to promote a better, more fair vision for our communities and our state and to work to see it actually achieved. It’s time for a Fair Share Economy. Watch our kick-off video and learn more about what a Fair Share Economy would mean for Maine!”
1. In 2009, the top 1% in Maine earned almost as much as the bottom 50% combined.
2. The top 10% earned nearly as much as everyone else combined.
3. Low income Mainers paid an overall state and local effective tax rate 70% higher than what the richest 1% pay.
4. The LePage tax cuts will give the top 1% nearly $3,000 in tax breaks. In contrast, most Mainers will get less than $100 back.
5. Wal-Mart gets over $1 million a year in tax breaks. Maine gives away more in tax breaks each year than we spend in actual programs.
Our Plan to Pass Through the State Legislature or Referendum:
1. Universal education from pre-K through college. Education is a human right. From the time a child is 3 years old until they enroll in the University of Maine or Community College system, their education should be free.
2. $1 billion to eliminate unemployment. Meaningful work is a human right. The Job Creation Fund will create jobs in key sectors of the economy, such as infrastructure, health care, clean energy, and education. We’ll also raise the minimum wage to $10/hr to get closer to a living wage.
3. Publicly Financed Health Care. Health care is a human right. In a “single payer” system with no health insurance companies, everyone gets the care they need by contributing what they can afford through taxes.
4. We’ll pay for it by making our tax system fair. Lower taxes for the bottom 70%. The top 10% will pay 5% more than low-income Mainers pay now.
For more information visit www.mainepeoplesalliance.org/fairshareRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )