Hundreds of Maine Workers Lobby in Augusta, Call on Elected Officials to Improving Wages and Make the Economy Work for All of Us, Not Just the Wealthy Few. Dan Brown of Hudson, who works at FairPoint Communications and is a member of Communication Workers of America (CWA) 1400 talked about how raising the minimum wage would help everyone and is the right thing to do.
By Ramona du Houx
Over two hundred workers from across Maine gathered in Augusta to call on elected officials to support policies that will raise wages and create economic security for Maine working families. The Annual Labor Lobby Day is sponsored by the Maine AFL-CIO, the State Federation of labor unions.
These union members and community allies spoke to their Legislators about a slate of current bills that promote economic fairness and security for all Maine working families, including bills to raise the minimum wage, address economic inequality by highlighting the CEO worker pay ratio, improving scheduling predictability for workers, Buy American legislation as well as opposing Governor LePage’s proposed state budget and legislative attacks on workers.
"A meaningful increase in the minimum wage would improve the wages of hundreds of thousands of Mainers. It would spur economic activity and have a broad ripple effect. It would improve thousands of Mainers lives. Its good economics, its the right thing to do and its long overdue," said Dan Brown of Hudson, who works at FairPoint Communications and is a member of Communication Workers of America (CWA) 1400.
"All across Maine, working families are living paycheck to paycheck and struggling to make ends meet. There’s a basic principle about how our economy should work - working people should be paid enough to support their families. People who work full time should not live in poverty. We are not meeting this most basic principle," added Brown.
State Senator John Patrick spoke about the need for a bill he is sponsoring to highlight the staggering and growing gap between CEO and average worker pay.
“The promise of our state should be for everyone, not just the wealthy few. I want Maine to be a state of opportunity, where hard work and playing by the rules provide working families a good life. But in recent years corporate CEOs have been taking a greater share of the economic pie while wages have stagnated. Corporate CEOs make 331 times the pay of the average worker. That’s not right and its why I’m supporting a bill to put a spotlight on the growing ratio between corporate CEO and average worker pay.”
Elizabeth O'Connor, who works for the City of Sanford, lives in Sanford and is a member of AFSCME 2011, spoke about the people she sees every day who are struggling to make ends meet. She is concerned that Governor LePage's proposal to give tax cuts to the rich while cutting revenue sharing will cause property taxes to go up, which people just can't afford.
"Maine people want a State budget that provides relief to ordinary working people and that invests in the foundations of our economy – a strong education system, improved infrastructure and support for our seniors,” said O'Connor. "Instead, Governor LePage’s budget proposes to give huge tax cuts to the wealthy and big corporations and pay for them by eliminating revenue sharing and shifting costs onto property taxes and towns. Corporations and the wealthy can afford to pay their fair share, so that working families can have more opportunities to succeed.”
Jessica Chubbuck of Edgecomb addressed the need to invest tax dollars in creating American jobs. Chubbuck is a marine electrician at Bath Iron Works, a member of Machinists Local S6, and serves on the Select Board in Edgecomb. She spoke in favor of LD 407, An Act to Buy- American Made Products, which would create a procurement preference for American made goods on state public works projects, when possible.
"We need good paying jobs here in Maine that can sustain families like mine. It is getting harder and harder to do that. We need our elected officials to create an economy that works for all, not just the wealthy few," Chubbuck said. "LD 407, The Buy American bill, is one of the key ways we can help create good jobs here in America. LD 407 This would stimulate our nation's economy and support good jobs here. It’s time for our tax dollars to be used to create and maintain jobs locally," she said.
The Good Jobs Agenda proposed at the press conference calls on Legisaltors to Support:
- Bills to shine a light on the massive and growing gap between CEO and worker pay (LR 1006 – An Act to Reduce Income Inequality)
- Bills to raise wages (Numerous minimum wage bills)
- Legislation to ensure predictable scheduling for workers so they can have a job and raise a family (There are several bills to improve the predictability of workers scheduling including a Retail Workers Bill of Rights, sponsored by Rep. Cooper)
- Efforts to keep jobs in Maine by using tax dollars to purchase American made whenever possible (LD 407)
- Finally our agenda rejects Govenor LePage’s proposed state budget that gives massive tax breaks to the wealthy and big corporations and pays for them by shifting costs onto property taxes and gutting revenue sharing. We advocate for a fair budget that asks the wealthy and big corporations to pay their fair share so that working families have more opportunities to succeed.