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September 29, 2015

Minimum wage hike campaign kicks off in Portland

A group pushing to increase Portland’s minimum wage to $15 an hour launched its campaign Monday outside the McDonald’s restaurant on St. John Street, the Portland Press Herald reported Monday.

Portlanders for a Living Wage’s referendum question will appear on the Portland city ballot Nov. 3.

The ordinance, if approved, would raise the minimum wage for all workers, including tipped workers, by 2019 and begin tying the wage to inflation starting in 2020.

The wage increase would be phased in with businesses that have 500 employees or more being required to pay their employees $15 an hour starting in 2017. All other businesses would have to pay that rate by 2019.

Tipped workers would earn a base wage of $3.75 less than the minimum, but employers would have to make up the difference if customer tips don’t push them over the minimum wage.

The owner of the McDonald’s on St. John Street, George Lydick, told the paper that the increase would force him to raise menu prices and possibly cut staff.

Lydick said voters should just allow the minimum wage increase enacted by the City Council this month to take effect instead of passing the $15-an-hour wage.

The increase enacted by councilors and proposed by Mayor Michael Brennan would increase the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour on Jan. 1 and $10.68 an hour the next year. It would tie future increases to inflation.

Tom MacMillan, chairman of the Portland Greens and a candidate for mayor, told the paper a $15-an-hour minimum wage is needed in Portland because of rising rents and the high cost of living.

A bill to increase Maine's minimum wage failed earlier this summer because of a disagreement between Republican and Democratic legislators. The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives supported a version of the bill that would have raised the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2018, while the Republican-controlled Senate supported another version that would have raised it gradually to $9 and create changes to work rules for minors.


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Bangor delays vote on minimum wage increase

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