minimum wage

Democrats in the Maine House have held off a Republican bid to slow down the minimum wage increase passed by voters nearly two years ago – at least for now.

The original bill would have cut the yearly increase in the minimum wage that was ratified in 2016, while also cutting the current rate of $10 an hour to $9.50 come June 1. But the proposal was amended to eliminate the proposed wage cut while implementing a 50-cent per year increase to replace the one-dollar increases in current law.

The Maine House of Representatives Thursday rejected a proposal to roll back the minimum wage increase approved by voters two years ago.

The proposal would reduce the annual increases in Maine’s minimum wage from $1 a year to 50 cents per year, and would cap the increase at $11 per hour instead of $12 by 2021.

Rep. Kent Ackley, an independent from Monmouth, opposed the bill. “Here we are again, Madam Speaker. Another proposal to substantially undo a vote by the citizens of Maine.”

Susan Sharon / Maine Public

A legislative committee has voted against a Republican plan to overturn a minimum wage law that was passed by voters. The issue will still go before the full Legislature for consideration.

Pat Wellenbach / Associated Press File

The Maine Legislature is considering a proposal to dismantle the citizen-passed legislation that increases the minimum wage to $12 an hour over several years.

The bill, subject to a public hearing Wednesday, would reduce the current minimum wage from $10 an hour to $9.50 in June, reaching a maximum of $11 an hour in 2021. It would also eliminate the yearly cost of living adjustment that would have begun that same year.

The legislation was endorsed by the LePage administration. Labor Commissioner John Butera called the existing wage law a burden on businesses and seniors.

Susan Sharon / Maine Public/file

Thousands of Maine workers earning minimum wage will get a raise come Jan. 1, their second increase since voters increased the minimum wage at the ballot box in 2016.

The citizen-approved law increased the wage to $9 an hour last year and it will rise to $10 an hour on Jan. 1. It will continue to increase by $1 each year until it reaches $12 by 2020.

Maine lawmakers have taken a step toward reinstating the lower base wage for workers who receive tips. 

The Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee voted 11-2 to bring back the so-called tip credit, which allows employers to pay tipped workers a lower minimum wage.

The bipartisan vote could foreshadow a repeal of a provision of a law passed by voters in November. That law raised the minimum wage but also gradually phased out the tipped wage so that workers who receive tips will one day earn the same as others making minimum wage - $12 an hour by 2020.

Kevin Bennett

The continuing debate over whether to change how Maine’s new minimum wage law affects tipped workers raged on in Augusta Wednesday, as stakeholders on both sides filled three overflow hearing rooms and crowded the hallways of the State House.

Susan Sharon / Maine Public

Nearly a dozen Democratic lawmakers, and possibly more, are backing an effort to overturn the repeal of the wage for tipped workers.

The repeal is included in the citizen-initiated law raising the base wage for thousands of Mainers. But doing away with the tipped wage has long been resisted by restaurant owners and their workers, who worry a higher base wage will mean lower tips and a pay cut.

Pat Wellenbach / Associated Press

For decades, waiters and waitresses in Maine restaurants have relied on etiquette for tips — 15-20 percent, depending on the quality of service and food. But some in the industry say that time-honored practice is now being ignored by many customers, now that Maine has a new minimum wage law.

Irwin Gratz / Maine Public/file

PORTLAND, Maine - Maine's minimum wage rises tomorrow from $7.50 an hour to $9 an hour.  That's a big victory for working people, says Matt Schlobohm of the Maine AFL-CIO.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Republican Senate President Michael Thibodeau says a citizen initiative that raised the minimum wage will need to be amended to reinstate the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers.

Thibodeau's statement puts him in early alignment with Gov. Paul LePage, but at odds with newly-elected Democratic House Speaker Sara Gideon.

"Before we left this building last spring there was no question: I talked to Republicans and Democrats alike. All of them said that the tip credit needed to be fixed," Thibodeau says.

Debate: Ballot Question 4

Oct 20, 2016

YOUR VOTE 2016 - BALLOT QUESTION 4 - We host a debate on Ballot Question 4 - an act to raise the minimum wage (live from our Lewiston studio)


Representing No on Question 4 - Greg Dugal, Executive Director of Maine Restaurant Association & Maine Innkeepers

Representing Yes on Question 4 - Mike Tipping, communications director for Mainers for Fair Wages

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

BANGOR, Maine - Supporters of a ballot question that seeks to raise the state minimum wage to $12 an hour over the next four years released their first television ad today.

Patty Wight / Maine Public

The Maine Heritage Policy Center released a report Wednesday that says a ballot measure that would raise the minimum wage in Maine would eliminate jobs and drive up the cost of goods and services.

The Policy Center is joined in its opposition by some Maine businesses that don’t support a statewide mandate, despite the fact that they already pay above the minimum wage.

PORTLAND, Maine - A coalition of children's advocates, including Maine Children's Alliance, Every Child Matters, and the Central Maine YWCA,  is speaking out in favor of raising the state's minimum wage, which voters will consider on the November ballot.