Sen. Patrick blasts corporate lobbyists’ anti-minimum wage scheme

Sen. Patrick blasts corporate lobbyists’ anti-minimum wage scheme

Sen. John Patrick, the lead Senate Democrat on the Legislature’s Labor, Commerce and Economic Development Committee, had some harsh words for a coalition of corporate lobby groups who announced yesterday that they would attempt to weaken or derail a citizen initiative to increase Maine’s minimum wage. The lobbyists are attempting to convince the legislature to attach a competing measure, ostensibly allowing a second option on the ballot for a smaller minimum wage increase.

“This coalition says they have an ‘alternative’ plan to raise the minimum wage, but I know from experience that their only goal is stopping the citizen initiative and keeping minimum wage workers in poverty,” said Patrick.

The citizen initiative, advanced by Mainers for Fair Wages and certified by the Secretary of State last month, would increase the minimum wage to $9 in 2017 and then a dollar a year until it reaches $12 in 2020, thereafter increasing it with the cost of living and also gradually raising the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers until it reaches the full minimum wage after 2024.

Last year, Patrick’s Labor Committee considered seven bills to raise the current minimum wage, including one that would have increased it to just $8 an hour. All of the bills were opposed by the lobbyists now leading the business coalition.

“These groups claim to now support a minimum wage increase of $2.50, but that doesn’t pass the smell test,” said Sen. Patrick. “Just last year they said they couldn’t even afford a 50 cent increase. So don’t tell me they suddenly have had a change of heart and care about low-wage workers. This competing measure has one goal and one goal only: To split the vote and keep workers at poverty wages.”

Photo via Andi Parkinson

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