Why Raise the Minimum Wage in Maine?

Why Raise the Minimum Wage in Maine?

Why Raise the Minimum Wage in Maine?

  • Nobody who works full-time should be living in poverty.
    The annual take-home pay (after taxes) for a minimum wage worker averages just over $12,000 a year, or around $300 a week. Nobody can live on that little money, much less support a family.  Low wages mean that working parents in Maine can’t support children and seniors can’t afford to retire.
  • Mainers work hard for our communities and they deserve wages that give them a fair shot.
    In Maine, tens of thousands of Maine’s highly skilled EMTs, firefighters, and elderly and disabled care providers get paid less than $12 an hour.  These high-stress, high-skill jobs are crucial to our community's well-being, and should be compensated with a decent paycheck that can support a family.
  • It’s about moms, kids and families.
    Increasing the minimum wage to $12 would help one in four working moms in Maine; 52,000 Maine kids live in a household with a parent who would get a raise that would help them meet their family's needs. Single and working moms who work full time should be able to pay for their children's food, clothes, housing, heat, and healthcare. When you work for a living, you should be able to make a living.
  • It’s good for small businesses and the Maine economy.
    When families earn more, they spend it in their communities at local businesses. This proposal would generate millions in new consumer spending, creating jobs and an economy that works for all of us, not just the wealthy few.  Hundreds of Maine small businesses support this initiative; a list of supportive small business owners across Maine can be found here: http://www.mainesmallbusiness.org/fairwagemap.

Why raise the subminimum wage for tipped workers

Currently, tipped workers make a subminimum wage of just $3.75/hour from their employer, and are expected to make the rest of their wages in tips.

The average tipped worker in Maine still only makes $9.06 an hour, including tips—making them among the lowest paid workers in Maine. In fact, tipped workers in Maine are three times as likely to live in poverty as the rest of the working population.

Most tipped workers are restaurant servers, and 82% of them are women, many supporting children. There are many reasons to end the unfair subminimum wage for workers who get tips:

  • Unpredictable earnings: Varying from shift to shift and from season to season, workers just can’t rely on steady tips – and they should get a fair base wage like everyone else.
  • Sexual harassment: Tipped workers, the vast majority of whom are women, are much more likely to experience sexual harassment on the job than other workers because they depend on tips from their customers to make ends meet. Over a third of all sexual harassment complaints came from restaurant workers.
  • It works in other states: Seven states (Alaska, California, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington) have one minimum wage that applies to all workers. A tipped worker in these states gets the “regular” minimum wage plus tips, and these seven states (in which over 1 million tipped workers live):
    • maintain higher restaurant growth rates and higher restaurant sales per capita
    • have menu prices are no higher than in other states
    • experience rates of tipping by customers are no different than in other states (in fact, they are slightly higher)

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