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Supporters of Rockland minimum wage work for passage

By Stephen Betts | Oct 30, 2020
Photo by: Stephen Betts

Rockland — Supporters of a municipal ballot article that will be decided by city voters on Nov. 3 have banded together to work for passage.

The organization rocklandgoodbusiness.com formed to gain support for the 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 -- have sent out flyers and placed signs around the community in opposition to the proposed law.

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 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: Gerald A Weinand | Nov 02, 2020 08:38

The Board of the PenBay Chamber of Commerce has this:

As an association of hundreds of local businesses and organizations employing thousands of local residents, the Chamber and its members fully recognize the challenges of living affordably in Rockland, and the need to find workable solutions to this issue.  We also share a common desire to create an economic environment that benefits employers and employees.  However, we feel compelled to speak out on behalf of the many businesses and organizations in Rockland who are also struggling to survive during this global pandemic, and we are troubled by the likely impacts of passing a local minimum wage ordinance at this time.

 

  • Rockland businesses and organizations are facing the staggering economic effects of a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, along with sharply rising property taxes and the upcoming implementation of Maine’s Earned Paid Leave Law.  This simply is not the time to add another cost for local businesses already on the brink of survival. 

  • We are disappointed that this issue was added to the Rockland ballot just days before ballots were to be printed following very limited discussion at one Rockland City Council meeting, leaving no time for the robust discussion that this topic deserves. The issue of livable wage is important, but a hastily worded municipal referendum is not the way to address it.   

  • While this ordinance would directly apply to businesses with over 25 employees, it’s clear that the impact would be felt by all employers, as they will be forced to compete with neighboring businesses who would be paying higher wages.  Feedback to the Chamber was largely from these smaller businesses who are concerned about their ability to survive. 

  • Common themes heard from businesses speaking to Chamber representatives include: 

    • Significant concern about the timing of this proposal, given the many other financial hardships facing businesses right now and the lack of notice for this being placed in front of voters. 

    • Concern for the reputation of Rockland as a place to do business, or to start or move a business.  Businesses will be less likely to consider Rockland as a place to remain and grow, or to relocate a business.

 

    • The people of Maine have already enacted a plan to move Maine’s minimum wage to one of the highest in the country, and to keep it there with annual increases.  Enacting a local minimum wage puts Rockland businesses at a disadvantage and will likely lead to less available jobs in Rockland as those businesses go elsewhere.

 

Given the reasons cited above and the significant feedback received on this issue, our board urges Rockland voters to vote “No” on the Rockland minimum wage referendum question.



Posted by: Jeff Sukeforth | Nov 01, 2020 12:01

Although this does not affect me, I do feel this is would not be a good thing for Rockland or any municipality. This would cause some small businesses to actually not hire high school age young men and women and quite possibly cause some to shutter their doors and go elsewhere.

 



Posted by: Iris Joyce | Oct 31, 2020 23:09

Well, This takes brains. Not the time for this to happen. Let the business's that survived the closure caused by the virus recover first. Nothing like wanting to punish local business's more. sheesh!



Posted by: Gerald A Weinand | Oct 31, 2020 14:14

To clarify, this measure would raise the minimum wage for anyone that performs work within the limits of Rockland, whether the business is located here or not. For example, if you work for a business located in Thomaston, and perform part of your day's work in Rockland, the hours worked here would be paid at the Rockland minimum wage, and the rest at the State level. This will keep some accountants busy.

There is no language in the ordinance pertaining to remote work.

https://rocklandmaine.gov/clerks-office/local-minimum-wage-ordinance/



Posted by: Stephen Betts | Oct 31, 2020 10:49

Dale,

I wrote and posted an article already on businesses who oppose the proposed city minimum wage law.



Posted by: Dale E. Landrith Sr. | Oct 31, 2020 09:27

Since you listed the businesses that are for the measure how about listing the businesses that are opposed?



Posted by: Gerald A Weinand | Oct 31, 2020 08:09

I support the creation of a "living wage" as well - on the federal and state level. Rockland does not have the size or scale to mandate all businesses and non-profits pay more than surrounding communities. While the intentions of supporters are admirable, passage of this measure will only provide one more reason for businesses that can leave Rockland to do so.

I urge a "No" vote on this.



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