Flash mobs thank Maine’s low-wage workers

Wearing party hats and dancing to Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5,” supporters of the Mainers for Fair Wages ballot campaign visited fast food restaurants, gas stations and big box stores in Augusta on Monday to thank employees for their hard work and let them know that help is likely on the way in the form of a ballot initiative to raise Maine’s minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020.

“Thank you for all you do!” said Melissa Stevens, a campaign volunteer from Auburn, addressing staff and customers at a KFC franchise on Western Avenue. “We are grandparents, students, low-wage workers, single moms, and small business owners and we’re here today to say it’s just not right how many people work hard, full time and still can’t make ends meet.”

Four roving parties of twenty volunteers each visited twelve locations throughout the city, handing out thank-you cards to workers in some of Maine’s lowest wage professions.

The minimum wage referendum was certified by the Secretary of State last week and will appear on the November ballot. If successful, it will increase Maine’s minimum wage to $9 an hour in 2017 and then a dollar a year until it reaches $12 in 2020. The sub-minimum wage for tipped workers will also be gradually increased until it reaches the full minimum wage after 2024.

A national poll just released by the Associated Press found 74% of voters support raising the minimum wage to $12 an hour.

“Raising the minimum wage to $12 by 2020 will directly help one in four Maine workers. These are folks who are working hard, often at multiple jobs, and struggling to get by on poverty wages.” said Mainers for Fair Wages spokesperson Mike Tipping. “Putting more money in low-wage workers’ pockets means putting more money back into our local economy, helping families, small businesses and communities. We can all do better together.”

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