Minimum wage campaign hits signature goal, heading for 2016 ballot

Minimum wage campaign hits signature goal, heading for 2016 ballot

On Wednesday, the campaign to place a minimum wage increase on the ballot in 2016 announced that it had collected more than 30,000 signatures from voters at polls across the state on Election Day. Mainers for Fair Wages has now collected more than 90,000 signatures since beginning in June – well over the 61,123 needed to qualify and all but guaranteeing placement on the 2016 ballot.

“The amount of support we saw yesterday at the polls for raising the minimum wage was tremendous,” said Amy Halsted, Campaign Manager for Mainers for Fair Wages. “It’s clear that Mainers are ready and waiting for a raise. At a time when so many families are working hard and struggling to make ends meet on poverty wages, we can’t wait any longer.”

Over 300 volunteers collected signatures at more than 100 poll locations across the state. Brandy Staples, who lives in Phippsburg, took time out of her schedule to volunteer because she knows first hand about living on low wages.

“I currently work two part time jobs at close to minimum wage and I still don’t make enough to get by,” said Staples. “I volunteered some time at the polls collecting signatures because nobody should be working as many hours as I am, and still struggle to make ends meet.”

Julia Legler, a restaurant server from Portland, collected signatures at the polls because she supports eliminating the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers (currently $3.75 an hour plus tips).

“Working for tips, you never know which week is the one when you’ll come up short because you never really know how busy the restaurant will be, how generous your patrons will be, or how many tables you’ll have to serve just to make ends meet,” said Legler. “I support this initiative because we need to make sure that all workers are paid one fair wage. No one should be earning a living off of tips.”

In April, the Maine People’s Alliance, Maine Small Business Coalition, and Maine AFL-CIO submitted the paperwork to launch a citizens’ initiative to raise Maine’s minimum wage to $9 in 2017 and then by $1 a year until it reaches $12 by 2020. After that it would increase at the same rate as the cost of living. The initiative would also incrementally raise the sub-minimum tipped wage until it matches the minimum wage for all other workers by 2024.

“Poll after poll shows that an overwhelming majority of Mainers want to raise the minimum wage,” said Halsted. “Raising wages statewide will help over one hundred and thirty thousand Mainers who are working hard, most of them women, often at more than one job. Working people deserve better than poverty pay for full time work.”

Visit fairwagemaine.com to learn more about the campaign.

Photo: A volunteer collects signatures at the polls in Westbrook

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