Eliza Townsend, Executive Director of the Maine Women’s Lobby, issued the following statement in response to the Portland Finance Committee’s decision to weaken the mayor’s proposal to raise the city’s minimum wage:
We are extremely disappointed in the lack of leadership shown tonight by the members of the Portland Finance Committee who voted to amend and weaken the mayor’s proposed minimum wage increase. We are, however, grateful for the support expressed by Councilor Jon Hinck for the mayor’s proposal, which would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 in January 2016 and index the minimum wage to inflation after 2017. The mayor’s proposal should have been voted affirmatively out of committee and sent to the full council months ago. The amendments that weakened the proposal and passed the committee would seriously impact the economic security of working families.
The Finance Committee has failed the working people of Portland. We will continue to shine a spotlight on the need for a higher minimum wage and hope that the full council shows stronger leadership. The rest of the council still has a chance to ensure that Portland’s workers get the raise they so desperately need and deserve.
For our communities and economy to prosper, all jobs need to pay at least enough to meet working families’ basic needs. When our neighbors can’t afford to buy food, pay for a place to live, or cover basic medical care, it hurts our whole city. When we raise the basic wage that workers can make, we boost our economy by saving on public assistance costs and making sure all workers have money to spend locally—this strengthens the economy for us all.
Over and over again, the committee heard from workers who are struggling to meet their basic needs as the costs for food, heat, and housing continue to grow. Portland is the economic engine of our state. Adopting the mayor’s proposal to raise the minimum wage from $7.50 to $9.50 in 2015, to $10.10 in 2016, and to $10.68 in 2017, then indexing the minimum wage to inflation going forward from 2017, and including a raise for tipped workers would not hurt the city. Instead it would help stimulate the local economy while also showing Portland’s low-wage workers that they are valued members of our community.
The weakening of the proposal is particularly troubling to those of us who are concerned with the economic security of Maine women. More than six in ten minimum wage workers in our state are women and more than 70% of tipped workers are women. We know that when women thrive, our communities thrive. A meaningful increase in the minimum wage for all workers is an important part of building pathways to prosperity for Portland’s families.
The Maine Women’s Lobby advocates on behalf of Maine’s 678,000 women and girls, focusing on freedom from violence, freedom from discrimination, access to health care, and economic security.
See all: Uncategorized29 Jan 2015
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Eliza, Danna, Kathy, and Molly