Minimum wage referendum campaign kicks off in Midcoast with office opening

Minimum wage referendum campaign kicks off in Midcoast with office opening

Less than a week after receiving approval from the Secretary of State to begin signature collection, Midcoast volunteers from Mainers for Fair Wages kicked off a regional signature collection drive to place a minimum wage increase on the 2016 ballot. Volunteers gathered in Damariscotta at the newly-opened Midcoast office of the Maine People’s Alliance (MPA) to learn about the referendum process and receive petitions.

Alex Jackimovicz, a volunteer leader and small business owner from Boothbay, signs participants up to collect signatures over the summer.

Alex Jackimovicz, a volunteer leader and small business owner from Boothbay, signs participants up to collect signatures over the summer.

“It’s so difficult to get ahead when you’re being paid such low wages. It’s easy to watch an entire paycheck disappear making sure the bills are paid,” said Brandy Staples, who lives in Phippsburg and works in retail. “I don’t think it’s right that so many folks work hard every day and still can’t make ends meet. I’m really glad to be part of a campaign that’s going to make a difference for folks like me.”

In April, the MPA and the 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 tipped minimum wage until it matches the minimum wage for all other workers by 2024. Last week the Secretary of State’s office formally approved the petition language.

“An increase in the minimum wage would be great for all Midcoast businesses,” said Alex Jackimovicz, an electrician from Boothbay who dropped by to pick up petitions. “When workers make more, they spend more locally and we all do better together.”

The Midcoast event is one of a series of regional grassroots kick off events taking place across the state. Last week, volunteers began collecting signatures in the Portland area.

Volunteer to collect signatures or contribute to the campaign to raise the minimum wage right here.

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