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Businesses working to defeat minimum wage law identified

By Stephen Betts | Oct 26, 2020
Photo by: Stephen Betts This is one of the signs placed around Rockland to defeat the proposed Rockland minimum wage law.

Rockland — The group of businesses who are working to defeat a proposed Rockland minimum wage law stepped forward Oct. 26 after questions were raised on who was behind the signs and flyers appearing throughout the city.

The group's name is Save Rockland Business. The name is included on flyers that were mailed to residents late last week, and signs placed around the city during that time. But the name did not further identify who are the parties.

State law requiring disclosure on campaign advertisements does not cover municipal elections. Rockland City Clerk Stuart Sylvester pointed out Rockland has no municipal ordinance requiring disclosures.

But the group identified its members Oct. 26 following questions posed by The Courier-Gazette.

"Save Rockland Business is an informal alliance of businesses and organizations who share concern about the minimum wage referendum question on the Rockland ballot. The alliance encourages Rockland voters to vote ‘no’ on the minimum wage referendum question," said Tom Peaco of Rockland, who is president and chief executive officer of the Penobscot Bay Chamber of Commerce.

The businesses and organizations who joined the Save Rockland Business Alliance, according to Peaco, are Archer’s On The Pier; ASK… For Home Care; Brass Compass Café; Club House II; ERA Cousens Realty; Garden Island Laundromat; Heal Accounting; Homeshare, Inc.; Hospitality Maine; Knight Marine Service; Loyal Biscuit Co.; Maine Grocers & Food Producers Association; Maine State Chamber of Commerce; Maritime Energy; Maritime Farms Stores; OrganiClean; Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce; Puffin’s Nest; Retail Association of Maine; Rock Harbor Brewing Co.; Rockland Harbor Hotel; Sierra Peaks; Snowdrop Confections; Southend Grocery; SummerMaine Properties; Sweet Peas Family Consignment and Trackside Station.

Heidi Neal of Loyal Biscuit said she was asked to be a business willing to be listed on the website as supporters of the messages contained there. Neal said she was never asked to provide any money and she doesn't know who funded any of it.

"I agree with the Chamber's position, this isn't the right time, nor was enough time given to this for research and discussion," she said.

Peaco said the Alliance continues to grow, and more businesses and organizations are welcome to express their support for Save Rockland Business by emailing info@saverocklandbusiness.com.

"The Alliance is appreciative of the local businesses and statewide organizations with members in Rockland who have stepped up to provide funding and volunteer assistance for this educational effort. This funding removes the financial burden on the many struggling Rockland businesses to get the message out in response to this last-minute referendum question.

"The Alliance is also grateful to the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce for providing administrative support to the Alliance, and to the Chamber’s board for their public statement issued on Friday," the Oct. 26 statement reads.

If approved by voters, the local law would 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 Alliance agrees that there are real challenges to living affordably in Rockland. However, placing additional burden on Rockland businesses to bring the minimum wage in Rockland to the same level as cities like Seattle, San Francisco and New York as we recover from a pandemic is the wrong solution, with potentially disastrous results for local businesses and the employees that this ordinance would supposedly help.

"The people of Maine have already recently addressed minimum wage, which will continue to rise annually with increases in the Consumer Price Index. Maine’s minimum wage is already one of the highest in the country at 63% above the federal minimum wage, and only the states of California, Massachusetts and Washington have a higher minimum wage," according to the statement from the association.

The sponsor of the referendum maintains that passage of the ballot question would benefit many workers.

"Is this the right time? For some opponents, it's never the right time. But facing tremendous economic and political uncertainty, I can't imagine a better time to dedicate ourselves to improving the lives of some of lowest-paid people in Rockland," Rockland City Counilor Nate Davis said last week.

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.

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.

A similar question will be on the November ballot in Portland. That question was placed on the ballot through a citizen initiative.

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Comments (7)
Posted by: Gary Oakley | Oct 28, 2020 15:32

As a consumer it is my right to not support those business's that do not support a fair minimum wage.



Posted by: CATHY TRUEMAN | Oct 28, 2020 05:58

Why would any business want to be micromanaged in Rockland, when they can open just a few miles away and pay an affordable wage?  Mandating a higher minimum wage doesn’t help the employees if the businesses shut down. The end result will be less business, less dollars and less visitors coming into Rockland. But I think it will greatly help our neighboring towns, when the restaurants and  shops start moving and opening there.



Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Oct 27, 2020 16:32

Thank you Ms  Jacobs.



Posted by: Dorinda Jacobs | Oct 27, 2020 15:05

Kudos Mr. Terrien.



Posted by: Dorinda Jacobs | Oct 27, 2020 15:03

Well said Mr. Mazzeo.



Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Oct 27, 2020 11:31

The owners of these businesses have the right to pay as little as they can for help. Workers have the right to not work for these owners unless they want to do so. If one looks at the help want ads and noticed a company always looking for help that should be a clue to low wages and poor employee relations. Not only do workers need to be able to pay their bills, they also need to know they are appreciated. It is not always true but sometimes growing up in wealth makes it difficult to understand one that has to go without to live. It is easy to hit a home run from third base. Some businesses on the list can be applauded for their success and others should thank their forebearers.

 



Posted by: George Terrien | Oct 27, 2020 09:53

If correct, the report of "...a living wage in Maine for a single person [in 2016] was $15.77 and for a single parent with two children was $29.08" would make me ashamed to oppose anyone trying to live a good but simple life.  We all suffer from poverty and hardship among our neighbors.  Those of us who think that Rockland will benefit by supporting something even smaller than the bare minimum CAN improve our community.  We CAN help those less fortunate than many of us by first, voting for the referendum, and then by expressing our concern with those businesses and people who think that it's OK for people to live in poverty in the City of Rockland.  Take note of these businesses listed above.  Do you buy anything from them?  These businesses you support with your dollars oppose even a gradual return to affording a barely decent living.  We CAN help these businesses to understand that opposing human decency in our community will only hurt them--and us.



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