It’s almost here: the second Maine Women’s Summit on Economic Security! We’re busy putting the final touches on the program and we couldn’t be more excited. That’s why we wanted to give you a first glimpse of what the day will look like.

Quick Look at the Program:

8:00 AM:    Doors Open/Breakfast

8:45 AM:    Welcome

9:00 AM:    Keynote Address

Caroline Fredrickson, President of the American Constitution Society and author of Under the Bus: How Working Women Are Being Run Over

9:50 AM:    Perspectives from Maine    

Panel moderated by Anna Eleanor Roosevelt of Goodwill of Northern New England; featuring Rep. Sara Gideon of the Maine House of Representatives, Sarah Ruef-Lindquist of the Maine Women’s Fund, Ian Yaffe of Mano en Mano | Hand in Hand, and Susan Young of the Bangor Daily News

11:00 AM:  A Look at the Data

Presented by Garrett Martin of the Maine Center for Economic Policy

11:35 AM:  A Roadmap to a Prosperous Maine: Solutions

11:45 AM:  Lunch/Book Signing/Connecting with Others

Lunch Speaker: Pronita Gupta, Deputy Director of the Women’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor

1:25 PM:    Breakout Sessions

Six options to help you turn ideas into action

2:25 PM:    Breakout Sessions 

Six more options to help you turn ideas into action

3:30 PM:    Closing Remarks  

Pat Ryan, former Executive Director of the Maine Human Rights Commission and one of the founders of the Maine Women’s Lobby

4:05 PM:    A Call to Action

4:15 PM:    Summit Comes to a Close



We’re so excited about this event and we hope you can join us. More information is available at

Maine Women’s Summit on Economic Security

Friday, October 16, 2015

Augusta Civic Center

8:45 AM – 4:15 PM (Doors open at 8:00 AM)

Registration Fee: $30; Students & Seniors: $20

Breakfast & Lunch Included

Scholarships Available

Please Register in Advance


Hope to see you there!


127th Legislature, First Regular Session

Legislative Outcomes

We lobbied on a number of bills this legislative session. The roll calls for some of those are featured in our member newsletter, which was mailed in September. (You can become a member by making a donation to the Maine Women’s Lobby today.) We talked about many other bills over the course of the session. Here are the outcomes for the bills we highlighted this year. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at or 207.622.0851 x3.


Freedom from Discrimination

LD 1347, An Act To Enact the Preservation of Religious Freedom Act

Sponsored by Senator David Burns

MWL position: Opposed  Final Status: Dead


LD 197, An Act To Strengthen Maine’s Election Laws by Requiring Photographic Identification for the Purpose of Voting

Sponsored by Senator Ronald Collins

MWL position: Opposed  Final Status: Dead


Freedom from Violence

LD 921, An Act To Strengthen the Right of a Victim of Sexual Assault or Domestic Violence To Take Necessary Leave from Employment and To Promote Employee Social Media Privacy

Sponsored by Representative Matthea Daughtry

MWL position: Supported  Final Status: Became law without the Governor’s signature


LD 861, An Act To Protect Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault or Stalking

Sponsored by Senator Bill Diamond

MWL position: Supported  Final Status: Veto Overridden – Became Law


LD 679, An Act To Prohibit the Unauthorized Distribution of Certain Private Images

Sponsored by Representative Kenneth Fredette

MWL position: Supported  Final Status: Became law without the Governor’s signature


Respecting the Needs of Pregnant Women

LD 1013, An Act To Prevent the Shackling of Pregnant Prisoners

Sponsored by Senator Anne Haskell

MWL position: Supported  Final Status: Became law without the Governor’s signature


Access to Health Care

LD 1312, An Act To License Outpatient Surgical Abortion Facilities

Sponsored by Representative Deborah Sanderson

MWL position: Opposed  Final Status: Dead


LD 854, An Act To Increase Access to Health Security by Expanding Federally Funded Health Care for Maine People

Sponsored by Representative Linda Sanborn

MWL position: Supported  Final Status: Dead


LD 771, An Act To Promote Dental Services for Prenatal and Postpartum Women

Sponsored by Representative Anne-Marie Mastraccio

MWL position: Supported  Final Status: Dead


LD 633, An Act To Improve the Health of Maine Citizens and the Economy of Maine by Providing Affordable Market-based Coverage Options to Low-income Uninsured Citizens

Sponsored by Senator Thomas Saviello

MWL position: Supported  Final Status: Carried Over


LD 319, An Act To Strengthen the Economic Stability of Qualified Maine Citizens by Expanding Coverage of Reproductive Health Care and Family Services

Sponsored by Representative Joyce McCreight

MWL position: Supported  Final Status: Became law without the Governor’s signature


LD 83, An Act To Strengthen the Consent Laws for Abortions Performed on Minors and Incapacitated Persons

Sponsored by Senator Paul Davis

MWL position: Opposed  Final Status: Dead


Protecting Maine People from Toxic Chemicals in Everyday Products

LD 948, An Act To Harmonize Maine’s Laws Governing Toxic Chemicals in Children’s Products with Those of Other States

Sponsored by Representative Sara Gideon

MWL position: Supported  Final Status: Dead


Economic Security

LD 1375, An Act To Increase Accountability in Maine’s Welfare Programs (Governor’s Bill)

Sponsored by President Michael Thibodeau

MWL position: Opposed  Final Status: Dead


LD 1268, An Act To Reform Welfare by Establishing Bridges to Sustainable Employment

Sponsored by Representative Drew Gattine

MWL position: Supported  Final Status: Carried Over


LD 369, An Act To Align Municipal General Assistance Programs with the Immigration Status Policies of the Department of Health and Human Services

Sponsored by Senator Eric Brakey

MWL position: Supported the amended bill  Final Status: Became law without the Governor’s signature

On July 6th, Portland passed a new minimum wage ordinance with the support of Mayor Michael Brennan and five city councilors: Kevin Donoghue, Justin Costa, Jill Duson, Jon Hinck, and David Marshall. We’re so happy to let you know that Portland finalized its new ordinance last night. In January, the city’s minimum wage will increase from the state level of $7.50 an hour to $10.10 an hour! Then in 2017, it will increase again to $10.68 an hour, and it will be indexed to inflation after that. Yay!

With this act of leadership, Portland has become the first city in the Northeast to increase its minimum wage. 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 across Maine, and it helps grow the momentum we’ve seen building across the country to make sure jobs pay at least enough to meet workers’ basic needs.

While proposed amendments that would have excluded young workers and removed indexing from the ordinance were defeated, the council did choose to put the base wage for tipped workers back to the state rate of $3.75 an hour. This is a disappointment because the tipped wage can create financial instability and makes workers more vulnerable to harassment—it also disproportionately affects women. We’ll continue to raise awareness about this important issue and we won’t stop advocating for better protections for those who earn tips.

  • What is the tipped wage? Learn more in this resource from the National Employment Law Project:
  • Read more about how the tipped wage contributes to poverty: and harassment:

If you want to get more involved in improving the economic security of women across our state, be sure to register for the Maine Women’s Summit on Economic Security being held by our sister organization, Maine Women’s Policy Center, on October 16th. It’s going to be a great day.


We know there’s still a lot of work to do, but it’s terrific to be able to celebrate an important victory that will help move more women and their families toward prosperity. We can’t wait for low-wage workers to receive this significant—and much needed—raise in January.


On September 9, 2015, the Maine Women’s Lobby again spoke before the Portland City Council to oppose proposals to undermine the new minimum wage ordinance by rolling back the raise for tipped workers, excluding younger workers, or removing the indexing component for future increases. Following is the text of a letter submitted by MWL Executive Director Eliza Townsend when she made her public comments.

Dear Mayor Brennan and Members of the Portland City Council,

As an organization that champions real equality for all, the Maine Women’s Lobby and our members have strongly supported a meaningful increase to the minimum wage in the city of Portland. That is why we applauded your leadership on July 6, 2015. When you voted to pass the new minimum wage ordinance, Portland became the first city in the northeast to pass such an increase to the minimum wage—joining many municipalities on the west coast that have seen their economies prosper by investing in their workers. Because we are particularly concerned with improving the economic security of women in Maine, we were extremely pleased that the new ordinance included an increase to the subminimum wage for tipped workers.

The vast majority of tipped workers are women, mostly working in the restaurant industry. In Maine women make up 82% of restaurant workers compared to just 66% nationally. More than 26% of tipped workers are parents whose tips support their families. Nearly two-thirds of tipped workers who are mothers are supporting their families as the heads of their household. Contrary to what some in the restaurant industry would have us believe, most tipped workers are struggling with inconsistent and low wages. These hard working people are three times more likely to live in poverty than other workers in our state (24% v. 8%). The Economic Policy Institute found that 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.[1] Rather than subsidize a subminimum wage for these hard working Mainers, we should ensure that all workers can earn enough to meet their basic needs. The city’s new ordinance would have begun to address these critical issues and help move more Portland workers out of poverty toward prosperity.

We know that paying workers who earn tips a fair wage is a key to their financial stability, and it is not bad for business. Alaska, California, Minnesota, Montana, Oregon, and Washington all have done away with a subminimum wage for tipped workers—their workers make the regular minimum wage plus tips—and these states project an average industry employment growth of 13% in 2015 compared to 8% projected growth in employment for Maine. Portland has gained a reputation as a destination city for foodies. Tipped workers in our city’s restaurants are a valuable part of that image, but not all these workers are in the most popular establishments and the number of customers can vary widely depending on the time of day, season, and weather. The data shows that we can give tipped workers more financial stability while also growing our entertainment industry.

Another element of this debate that cannot be ignored is the exploding cost of living in Portland. As rents and other costs continue to grow, we must ensure that our policies don’t leave any of our working families behind. It’s common sense that we can’t address the inequality our city faces without increasing wages for all those earning the minimum wage—no matter their age or whether they earn tips. And to make sure that inequality doesn’t grow further, we need to protect the indexing component of the ordinance. We would not need to keep revisiting this debate if our minimum wage kept up with inflation. Indexing helps wage earners keep up with the costs of basic needs like food, housing, school supplies, and medicine. It also creates greater predictability for business owners who will have incremental increases to their expenses rather than large jumps when our elected leaders decide to address poverty in their communities.

There are other challenges faced by tipped workers that those earning higher wages too often overlook. Because our workplace policies haven’t kept up with the realities of the working families in the 21st century, those earning tips face other serious challenges that affect their economic security. 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 than other workers. 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—as illustrated by a 2014 report[2] that found 37% of all sexual harassment claims to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) come from the restaurant industry. It is difficult to report harassment when you are forced to rely on the goodwill of customers for tips and the honesty of supervisors to make sure you receive all your earnings.

It is imperative that all workers, regardless of age, are included in the new minimum wage ordinance. We heard powerful testimony earlier this year about how our most vulnerable youth often rely on low-wage jobs to support themselves. Sadly, the reality for some teens is that they must work to provide for themselves or to help provide for their families. Any effort to exclude younger workers from the minimum wage ordinance will result in more teens—often LGBTQ youth and young women—being put at greater risk.

For all these reasons, the Maine Women’s Lobby again urges you to stand behind the meaningful raise you gave minimum wage workers and tipped workers in July by not undermining the landmark ordinance you already passed. The people of Portland are proud to stand for civil rights and economic prosperity for all. What you do tonight will determine whether that legacy of leadership continues.

The Maine Women’s Lobby advocates on issues affecting the lives of Maine’s women and girls, with a focus on a future that is free from violence and discrimination, with access to a full range of health care, and real economic security. For more information visit


Eliza Townsend, MWL Executive Director

[1] Economic Policy Institute. (2014) Twenty-Three Years and Still Waiting for Change. Retrieved September 9, 2015 from
[2] Restaurant Opportunities Center. (2014) The Glass Floor Sexual Harassment in the Restaurant Industry. Retrieved September 9, 2015 from



While we were able to defeat the bad amendments to exclude younger workers and remove indexing, we were unable to overpower the restaurant industry to defeat the amendment to take away the raise to the base wage for tipped workers. Only two city councilors, Kevin Donoghue and David Marshall, supported a raise to tipped workers’ base wage.

The new minimum wage ordinance in Portland will increase the minimum wage to $10.10 in 2016, $10.68 in 2017, and will be indexed to inflation going forward. The base wage for tipped workers will remain at the state level of $3.75.

As we have written many times, excluding tipped workers is a bad a idea and the restaurant industry continues to mislead the public and city council on this issue. The Maine Women’s Lobby will not stop advocating for workers who earn tips at the local, state, or federal level.

Please feel free to contact Kathy at 207.622.0851 x3 or if you would like to know more about this issue or our work on this municipal ordinance.

The National Partnership for Women and Families has released new state-by-state fact sheets on the need for all workers to be able to earn paid sick days. The facts remain grim. Nearly 200,000 Maine workers in the private sector can’t earn even one paid sick day—not even one day to recover from the flu, or one day to stay home with a sick child, or one day to go to the doctor when they need medical care. Forty-two percent of our workforce has to choose between their health and their paycheck. That’s a choice no one should have to make.

Introduced in both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate, the Healthy Families Act would help change that. By creating a national paid sick days standard, more workers would be able to earn the time they need to get well. It would allow workers in businesses with 15 or more employees to earn up to seven job-protected paid sick days each year, and workers in businesses with fewer than 15 employees would earn up to seven job-protected unpaid sick days each year to be used for the same reasons, unless their employers choose to offer paid sick days. While we would like all employees to be able to earn paid sick days, ensuring that no one will lose their job when they get sick will make a big difference for the many workers who risk getting fired if they take time to get well.

Congresswoman Pingree is a co-sponsor of the House version of the bill, H.R.932, but Congressman Poliquin is not. Neither Senator Collins nor Senator King have yet signed on as sponsors to the Senate version of the bill, S.497. You can call to ask for their support of the Healthy Families Act at the following numbers, and we’ll be sharing other opportunities to take action soon.

Rep. Bruce Poliquin:  202-225-6306

Sen. Susan Collins:  202-224-2523

Sen. Angus King:  202-224-5344

Have you ever had to choose between your paycheck and taking a sick day? Has your child ever been sick, but you couldn’t afford to take a day off to bring them to the doctor? Are you a business owner who provides your employees with paid sick days? Share your stories at, or call Molly at 207-622-0851 x2.

Learn more about the facts for Maine:  Mainers Need Paid Sick Days

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