Bangor City Council considering two new minimum wage proposals

Bangor City Council considering two new minimum wage proposals

Bangor City Council’s Business and Economic Development Committee heard two new proposals on Tuesday night related to increasing the minimum wage. One, a resolution endorsing efforts by Mainers for Fair Wages to place a statewide minimum wage increase on the ballot in 2016, will go before the full Council for a first reading on September 9th.

The other, a measure to increase the city minimum wage to the same amounts and on the same schedule as the statewide referendum, will face further hearings. It advances alongside an existing proposal to increase the local wage introduced by Councilor (and Second District congressional candidate) Joe Baldacci. Both new proposals were drafted by Councillor Josh Plourde.

“It is my view that the following proposal relies on the greatest strengths of Councilor Baldacci’s original proposal to
support Bangor’s most vulnerable citizens while also offering deference to the citizen-led initiative currently
underway,” wrote Plourde in a memo to the committee introducing his proposed ordinance. “It is also my view that such initiative will be successful at the polls.”

Other councilors, however, continued to support an increase to the city’s minimum wage that would take effect more quickly.

“We must end the cycle of inaction and continue to push for better wages for those not making a living wage,” said Councillor Gibran Graham, who opposed the new proposal. “The best way for the city to support raising the minimum wage statewide in 2017 is to raise it in Bangor now.

Mike Tipping, communications director for the Maine People’s Alliance, (an organizational member of Mainers for Fair Wages) said the proposals represented strong signs of support for the statewide referendum. He also praised the proposed ordinance’s gradual elimination of the sub-minimum wage for tipped employees.

“These steps to support a statewide minimum wage increase should not, however, prevent city councilors from acting to increase wages for Bangor residents more quickly than a statewide referendum would allow,” said Tipping. “The existing proposal to increase the minimum wage in Bangor starting in January, 2016 should be strengthened and passed. The city council owes it to the thousands of Bangor residents working hard for long hours and struggling to scrape by on poverty wages.”

Several members of the public who spoke at the hearing also urged the council to act now.

“I worked for five years at Wendy’s, a minimum wage job. It was enough to pay the bills, but not enough to pay the heat,” said Tyler Williams, a Bangor resident. “I’ve been the bread winner since I was 16. My mother was disabled, and it was 39 degrees inside the house in the winters. Families in Bangor can’t wait for a minimum wage increase.”

Photo via Flickr/Justin Henry

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