The US Senate is considering legislation by Senators Udall (D-NM) and Vitter (R-LA) that claims to be comprehensive reform of our nation’s chemical policy. But the bill (S.697) is far too weak. EPA would only review the safety of 25 chemicals over the next 8 years. And the price of that meager schedule is that states would be blocked from taking timely action, during the EPA review.
Meanwhile, a bill that recently passed the House by a whopping margin of 398–1 shows much more promise. H.R. 2576 would review the safety of 10 chemicals each year, a speedier schedule compared with the Senate, and states would not be prohibited from restricting a chemical until after the EPA has already taken the same action on that chemical.
Maine has been a leader on chemical safety reform–tell our Senators that reform should only go forward, not backward.
The EPA should take more action on chemicals. The worst chemicals should be identified and acted on first. And states should be free to take appropriate action to protect their citizens in a timely manner. At this point, the Senate should use the House bill as a starting framework, and add improvements to it.
The Senate vote could happen any time. Please contact Senator Collins and Senator King today.
We told you last week that the Portland City Council voted to raise the minimum wage last week. Their decision to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 in 2016, $10.68 in 2017, and then linking future increases to inflation showed real leadership. This will help low-wage workers take a big step forward on the road to economic security.
Unfortunately the story doesn’t end there. Tipped workers also received a raise to their base wage and councilors are considering taking that increase away. That’s totally unacceptable! We think tipped workers shouldn’t be left behind—they deserve a raise, too.
Women are the majority of workers earning the tipped minimum wage. Tipped workers experience poverty at higher rates than other workers, and they are less likely to be able to earn paid sick days, or receive health and retirement benefits. Learn more on our blog: MWL Blog.
The City Council will be reconsidering the minimum wage increase. Please join us in telling our councilors to stand with tipped workers.
Mayor Brennan, with Councilors Costa, Donoghue, Duson, Hinck, and Marshall voted to pass the minimum wage increase. When you contact these councilors, please thank them for their leadership and urge them to continue to stand with our city’s most vulnerable workers—those making the tipped minimum wage.
Mayor Michael Brennan
Councilor Justin Costa, District 4
Councilor Kevin Donoghue, District 1
Councilor Jill Duson, At-Large
Councilor Jon Hinck, At-Large
Councilor David Marshall, District 2
Councilors Brenerman, Mavadones, and Suslovic voted against the minimum wage increase. When you contact them, tell them they still have time to do the right thing by standing with tipped workers.
Councilor Brenerman, District 5
Councilor Nicholas Mavodones, Jr., At-Large
Councilor Edward Suslovic, District 3
For more information about why raising the tipped minimum wage matters for women and our families, check out our blog, this resource from the National Women’s Law Center, and this resource from The Restaurant Opportunities Centers United & Forward Together. This report from the Economic Policy Institute does a great job of explaining why so many workers who make the tipped minimum wage struggle to get paid all the deserve: Twenty-Three Years and Still Waiting for Change.
All work has value. Tipped wage earners work hard. Councilors shouldn’t leave them out of a wage increase for other minimum wage earners. The Portland City Council should do the right thing and continue the leadership they demonstrated in raising the minimum wage last week by saying loud and clear that all of Portland’s workers are important to the city and they won’t allow our most vulnerable workers to be left behind.
Thank you for taking action on this important issue.
See all: 127th Maine Legislature|access to health care|Civil Rights|economic security|freedom from violence|Medicaid|meeting basic needs|Minimum Wage|Pathways out of Poverty|Pregnant Women|Reproductive Health13 Jul 2015
Oh, what a month it’s been for Maine women! We truly can’t contain our joy.
Due to Governor LePage playing politics with his expected vetoes, four of our priority bills have now become law. We worked hard to pass these important pieces of legislation and the lives of thousands of Maine women will improve because of them. Here’s what we’re celebrating:
Throughout the session, we’ve been working to make these bills become law. While we couldn’t have imagined the governor’s actions of this past week, it took a lot of hard work to pass these bills through the legislature.
And to add to the joy of these legislative wins, last week we rejoiced in a meaningful minimum wage increase passed by the Portland City Council. Not only is this a huge win for working families in our largest city, it’s a victory for our state because it will help bolster efforts to raise the minimum wage in other cities and statewide. After a year and a half of hard work, Portland’s minimum wage will be $10.10 in 2016, $10.68 in 2017, and then it will be indexed to inflation going forward. We still have more to do to ensure that tipped workers keep the raise the City Council gave them, but we’ll share more about that later.
For now, we’re dancing to celebrate these victories. Thank you for sticking with us through this challenging legislative session. We’ll continue to stay on top of developments in Augusta, Portland, and beyond.
Eliza Townsend, executive director of the Maine Women’s Lobby, issued the following statement about the impact on tipped wage earners of Portland’s new ordinance raising the minimum wage to $10.10 in 2016, and setting the city’s tip credit at $3.75:
The Maine Women’s Lobby commends the Portland City Council for its leadership in passing a meaningful minimum wage increase on Monday night. The high cost of living in Portland and stagnant wages for hard-working Mainers made it imperative for the city to act. When this increase goes into effect in January, our local economy will get a boost—and most importantly, our neighbors who make the minimum wage will have a better ability to pay for their food, housing, and other everyday expenses.
This was a momentous and important step towards ensuring all Mainers can have real economic security.
Throughout the discussion of this ordinance, we have been deeply concerned about the needs of tipped workers. The vast majority of tipped workers are women. In addition to restaurant servers, employees in other occupations also receive tips, including hairdressers, barbers, delivery drivers, and massage therapists. A 2014 report by the Economic Policy Institute found that the poverty rate for tipped workers is twice that of other workers, and tipped workers in the restaurant industry experience poverty at nearly three times the rate of other workers.
Ensuring that tipped workers are paid a wage increase makes good economic sense for taxpayers. About 46% of tipped workers and their families need public assistance programs to meet their basic needs compared to 35.5% of non-tipped workers and their families. Rather than subsidize low wages, we should ensure that all workers can earn enough to meet their basic needs.
Tipped workers also face other challenges because our workplace policies haven’t kept up with the realities of today’s families. They are more likely to be unable to earn even one paid sick day, and are less likely to have health insurance or retirement benefits.
Relying on tips and having a lower base wage makes tipped workers’ incomes less stable, making them some of the most vulnerable workers in our community. This is illustrated by a 2014 report that found 37% of all sexual harassment claims to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) come from the restaurant industry. These are only reported incidents of sexual harassment—we know that harassment often goes unreported. The same report found that sexual harassment is experienced across the restaurant industry regardless of gender, but impacts women and people who are transgender the most. More than half the women in the industry experience harassment on a weekly basis. Providing tipped workers with greater wage stability and economic security will give them greater flexibility to report and address this unacceptable behavior.
We strongly urge the city council to remember that what makes Portland such a desirable destination for tourists, businesses, and people relocating from other states, is its character, vibrancy, and diversity. Giving tipped workers a raise strengthens our economy and shows that we value all our workers. In fact, in the seven states that pay tipped workers the regular minimum wage, the leisure and hospitality sectors have seen stronger growth since 1995 than the states where tipped workers are paid a subminimum wage. Investing in all our people is an important tool for economic growth.
All work has value. Tipped wage earners work hard. We shouldn’t leave them out of a wage increase for other minimum wage earners. We call on the Portland City Council to do the right thing and continue the leadership they demonstrated in their decision on Monday night by saying loud and clear that all of Portland’s workers are important to the city and they won’t allow our most vulnerable workers to be left behind.