On September 9, 2015, the Portland City Council reaffirmed their commitment to raising the local minimum wage to $10.10 an hour in 2016 and $10.68 in 2017, becoming the first Maine municipality to act on their own to increase the minimum wage beyond $7.50.
"Last night, Portland gave final approval to raise the city's minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. This important step will improve the lives of the low-wage workers who help form the backbone of our city's thriving economy," said Senate Democratic Leader Justin Alfond of Portland. "We can be proud of our city for taking the lead on economic fairness, and providing an example for the rest of the state."
The Council also amended the proposal for tipped workers, which they had previously made a mistake on. Some were not pleased.
"It's unacceptable that those who serve food at restaurants can't always afford to feed their own families and it's lamentable that the Council chose to deny them an increase in the sub-minimum tipped wage, even as some of the same Councilors expressed support for increasing the tipped wage at the state level," said Mike Tipping of the Maine People's Alliance.
Portland City Councilor Jon Hinck explained the situation clarifying that tipped workers will also get the increased minimum wage. "The minimum wage increase requires that all workers, service workers who get tips and others, get paid the new higher minimum wage. I think Portland got it right. The minimum wage needed to be raised and we did that over objections. We support workers here and we look to keep a vibrant economy too," said Hinck.
The Maine People's Alliance, is currently gathering signatures to place a citizen initiative on the 2016 ballot that would raise the state minimum wage to $9 an hour in 2016 and then by a dollar a year until it reaches $12 an hour in 2020. The referendum will also gradually raise the sub-minimum tipped wage to the same level by 2024.