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Rockland residents approve city minimum wage

By Stephen Betts | Nov 03, 2020

Rockland — Rockland voters overwhelmingly approved a municipal minimum wage.

City voters approved the new law 2,312 to 1,209 — a nearly two-to-one margin.

The local law will increase the minimum wage from its current statewide $12 an hour level to $13 in Rockland beginning Jan. 1, 2022, $14 in 2023, $15 in 2024, then annual cost-of-living increases. The state minimum wage law includes annual cost of living increases.

The wage would only apply to businesses who employ more than 25 workers in Rockland.

City Manager Tom Luttrell said the city will be affected with part-time workers such as dock stewards who have been paid less than $15 an hour.

The state's minimum wage is $12 an hour compared to the national rate of $7.25. Maine voters approved a gradual increase in the state minimum wage to its current level in a 2016 referendum.

The Maine minimum wage had not increased, prior to the 2016 referendum, since 2007.

Businesses that violate the law would be liable for paying back wages as well as incurring fines.

Voters in the Maine city of Portland approved a similar municipal law by a 60-40 margin Tuesday night.

A person working a 40-hour a week job earns $24,960 annually at the Maine minimum wage, before taxes are deducted.

The Maine People's Alliance issued a report in 2016 that said a living wage in Maine for a single person was $15.77 and for a single parent with two children was $29.08.

The organization formed to gain support for the Rockland measure. The group has created a website and erected signs around the city.

A list of businesses in support of passage of the minimum wage law are Scrimshaw Cannabis & Community, Wilderbydesign, Z Shaw Architecture, Curator, Steel House, Black Parrot, Fog Bar & Café and Hello Hello Books.

A number of individuals have also voiced support for the law. Their names are listed on the website. The grassroots organization, Renew Rockland, is also backing the wage law.

Rockland City Councilors Ben Dorr, Valli Geiger and Nate Davis are in support of the measure, as are state Rep. Anne "Pinny" Beebe-Center, D-Rockland, and school board member Chelsea Avirett.

“When workers earn a fair wage our community wins. We spend that money back into the local economy, we pull more workers up off state aid and build stability in our local labor market. For too long the worker in Rockland has seen the community prosper, while our wages lag they are nearly 17% lower than the states median income," James York of Rockland stated on the group's web site.

A group of businesses — Save Rockland Business — sent out flyers and placed signs around the community in opposition to the proposed law.

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Comments (8)
Posted by: Ronald Dyer | Nov 05, 2020 14:53

Back in the days BC (before cappuccino) in Rockland, folks made a pretty good living to whatever standard they chose, in this blue collar working class community. they paid their mortgages, rents and  property taxes. All on wagers far below $15 per hour as a MINIMUM wage.

True, they might not have been hip and trendy or particularly artistic. But you could work if you wanted, shop Main Street for the things you needed, go out for an evening's entertainment of your choice, and surprisingly,  go to a museum to see art if that was your thing.

And share it all with the folks in the communities around Rockland, and those folks visiting or Summering from away.

Ron Dyer (one of seven generations to call Rockland home at one point or another).

Posted by: Jeff Sukeforth | Nov 05, 2020 14:19

Sure vote to increase it to whatever, just remember these businesses will no longer be able to hire high schoolers during the summer, their prices will go up and service may just go down, after all someone has got to pay the extra, businesses just are not going to eat this extra cost.  What's the old saying be acreful of what you ask for you just might get it.


Posted by: Crawford L Robinson | Nov 05, 2020 13:35

Yes  Conrad. That creates but even another scenario: How many employees will vacate their present under 25 person jobs to find one at an over 25 employee business thus leaving their employer short handed and forced to pay higher wages that they can't afford to pay? How many employers may choose to cut back to 24 people or less?

Posted by: Conrad J Heyer | Nov 05, 2020 11:45

How  many business on Main street employ 25 people ? I bet none.

Posted by: Crawford L Robinson | Nov 05, 2020 11:03

Something tells me there will soon be more empty storefronts on Main St (and around town). On the plus side, there will likely be a lot of people from surrounding towns quitting their jobs to work in Rockland for higher wages allowing Rockland business owners to fill some vacancies that have been hard to find employees for. Or on yet another hand ... how many Rockland businesses will pack up and move their covered wagon to another town? This should be an interesting experiment.

Posted by: George Terrien | Nov 05, 2020 09:16

I take great pride in Rockland's willingness to speak up, and now far more importantly, put our money with its talk.  Rockland has taken great strides during the past two decades.  Confident that we will continue to educate ourselves in the responsibility--and yes, the value of current investment to reduce the disproportionately-large future burden we have already incurred--I look forward to continued courage, foresight, and wisdom as we meet our future more on our terms, than on those we have inherited, imposed on us by past ignorance and irresponsibility.  Well done, Nate (and your colleagues), for your leadership in this endeavor, and for your wise, incremental, and constructive leadership to secure a better world for those who we hope will follow us.  Thank you!

Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | Nov 05, 2020 08:45

This will certainly end up in a court fight which of course will cost Rockland more money in expensive legal fees.  In the end they will loose and so will the overburdened taxpayer.  The City is way out of their league on this one and really has no jurisdiction to be altering State laws.   Nate Davis you have all the potential of being a great councilor, Please stop burning up all your political capitol.  You have two more years to go and need to take up causes that the City CAN do something about.

Posted by: Lawrence Edward Galkowski | Nov 05, 2020 06:13

Bye bye small business in Rockland.

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