Raising the minimum wage, one plate of spaghetti at a time

Raising the minimum wage, one plate of spaghetti at a time

On Wednesday, more than a hundred Mainers gathered at Cony high school in Augusta, in part for a taste of the Baldacci family’s secret recipe for spaghetti sauce, but mostly to learn about and build support for the referendum on the ballot this November to incrementally raise Maine’s minimum wage to $12 by 2020.

Nobody working a 40-hour week should live in poverty,” said former governor John Baldacci, who hosted the event along with his brother, Bangor City Councilor Joe Baldacci and who comes from a family of restaurateurs. “Historically low wages are being paid because that is what the inadequate law — which doesn’t increase at the same rate as the cost of living — says workers can be paid. This out-of-date law undervalues the hard work of too many people.”

The event, organized separately from the official referendum campaign, featured speeches on the importance of raising the minimum wage from House Speaker Mark Eves, Maine Center for Economic Policy executive director Garrett Martin and Maine AFL-CIO head Matt Schlobohm.

“Overall, 29 percent of all workers in our state would see an increase. And, more than 52,000 Maine children would benefit from one or both parents getting a raise,” wrote Eves in a newspaper op-ed published the day before the dinner. “It’s the right thing to do to make sure every Mainer can bring a paycheck home that makes it possible to provide for their family.”

“Our dinners have become a family tradition, one where we’re proud to help out when and where we can,” said Joe Baldacci. “We hope this dinner will help generate support for a statewide minimum wage increase.”

Proceeds from the $5-a-plate dinner went to the Augusta Food Bank. A gallery of photos from the event can be viewed here.

Photo via Jeff Kirlin.

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