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The photographic series above, People at Work: The Low Wage Earners of Maine, depicts some of our fellow neighbors who work for the state’s minimum wage of just $7.50 an hour. The dedicated photographer, Jeff Kirlin, works in his free time documenting them and has set up #MaineLivingWage #RaiseTheWage to share them.

This website is dedicated to raising awareness about how the current minimum wage is a poverty wage. We will chronicle statewide events and bring you updates on the efforts to raise Maine’s minimum wage— until a livable minimum wage for Maine is achieved.

Panels from Maine artist Judy Taylor’s Labor Mural, that was commissioned by Maine’s Department of Labor.

Panels from Maine artist Judy Taylor’s Labor Mural, that was commissioned by Maine’s Department of Labor.

According to the non-partisan Economic Policy Institute (EPI) the federal minimum wage of $7.25 is worth $2 less today than it was in 1968 when adjusted for inflation. An Alliance for a Just Society estimates that $15.82 would be a livable wage. Maine’s current minimum wage forces far too many families onto welfare rolls and the need for federally subsidized healthcare.

Someone working 40 hours a week at the federal minimum wage of $7.25, would earn $290 each week—or $15,080 every year—$4,610 below the federal poverty level. According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s local wage calculator, at today’s minimum wage a single mother in Maine would have to work 138 hours per week just to survive without government assistance programs like Medicaid and the SNAP (food stamps.)

“Nobody working a 40 hour week should live in poverty,” said Bangor City Councilor Joe Baldacci who last February proposed an ordinance that would incrementally increase the minimum wage to $9.75 in 2018.

11429685_10206817217209646_8883748444359186629_nJoe has also started hosting spaghetti dinners across the state to generate support and awareness for raising the minimum wage, as well as to give people information about the Maine Peoples Alliance’s (MPA) petition drive to steadily increase Maine’s minimum wage to $12.00 an hour There will be upcoming events in Bangor, Portland, Millinocket, and Presque Isle.

“These spaghetti dinners have always been a great opportunity to bring the community together for a family dinner that encourages discussion and unity on important working class issues,” said Joe. “I hope these dinners will help generate a grassroots push for a statewide minimum wage increase.”

City Councilor Baldacci has already held a town forum in Bangor, and spoke on the issue in Waldo County, and Washington County.

Baldacci Spaghetti Dinners/Minimum Wage Forums hit the road

First appeared in the Bangor Daily News HERE

Bangor City Councilor Joe Baldacci hosted his first spaghetti dinner/minimum wage forum on June 26th in Lewiston. He and guests addressed a packed room of over 150 people as attendees finished their spaghetti made from the famous Baldacci family’s recipe.

Speakers addressed the economic situation faced by those earning a minimum wage and the need for action. According to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) the federal minimum wage of $7.25 is worth $2 less today than it was in 1968 when adjusted for inflation.

Economist Garrett Martin, of the Maine Center of Economic Policy, analyzed how the economic situation coming out of the Great Recession has led to low wage earners truly being left behind. He explained that a minimum wage raise would lift everyone up.

“Don’t believe them when they tell you raising the wage costs jobs… It actually boosts the economy. The last time the federal government raised the minimum wage over $5.5 billion more was spent,” said Martin. “And jobs were created.” Continue reading

Jeff Kirlin’s series- People at Work: The Low Wage Earners of Maine

The following is part of a photographic series, People at Work: The Low Wage Earners of Maine, which depicts some of our fellow neighbors who work for the state’s minimum wage of just $7.50 an hour. The dedicated photographer, Jeff Kirlin, works in his free time documenting them. This is just a sample from his series.

“The photography project was started after I was told by a person, in a position to help bring about a higher minimum wage, that he didn’t feel it was a real problem because it hasn’t been brought to his personal attention,” said Jeff, a speech therapist and Bangor based photographer. “This project is intended to give, not a voice, but a platform for those earning low wages and their supporters, and how their lives are affected by stagnant wages.”

Please consider sharing these images. #MaineLivingWage #RaiseTheWage

“My goal is to help bring meaningful reform to our criminal justice system in America. I want to put an end to this country’s school to prison pipeline that so many minorities and people living in poverty face.
Ya know, I really do love my job; not many people my age can say that. However, I’m in a situation where I can’t go back to college because I have bills to pay. I’m constantly being pressured by my family to go back to school, but how am I supposed to balance a college education with rent? It’s frustrating being criticized by some of the people you love most, but what’s even worse is having to delay my goals because I work for less than $9 an hour. How am I supposed to help those living in poverty when I can’t even find a way to get out of poverty myself?”
-Jensen Cook

“I work in healthcare, one to one with patients and we earn below a living wage. When you are a patient, the person you see the most is the one who is paid the least. If going into healthcare wasn’t one of the most rewarding things I have ever done… it wouldn’t be worth it.”-McKenzie Chambrello


“I’ve had a job since I was 7 years old. Mowing lawns, raking leaves, paper route, custodial work in middle school and high school. Many overlapping. I was raised with what most would call a strong work ethic. Last year I was laid off twice. The second time was in the dead of winter when virtually no one was hiring. I had to take some humble jobs. After the first night at one job, I was so tired and so sore, I cried myself to sleep, overwhelmed by my new reality. After a month of working every hour the business could spare me, I had made $500. I was falling farther and farther behind. I was very fortunate to be given an opportunity by a local family business just as things were at their bleakest. I feel very lucky to be where I am. Many people never get that.”
-James Reiss

“I’ve worked at this particular location at near-minimum wage for 2 years. Only part-time, though — so I can be home with my two young children during the day so my husband can work full time. Despite the pay, I’m happy to be there. The hours and schedule are flexible, and I’ve met some amazing people. Without my husband’s career, however, it wouldn’t be possible for me to work there. If you account for the travel and food, I don’t contribute much financially. Without Joshua’s career, We’d be obligated to seek state help, and I’d be working double-triple the hours to make ends meet.
Like so many other Mainers, We live on a budget — more so during the winter. My job is one I’m grateful to have; even if the pay is modest. We balance and make do for ourselves, and our children.
Growing up, I was always told to work hard and get the career I wanted. Go to college, earn a career that you’re proud of. But, What’s completely flawed about that is the implication that a minimum wage job isn’t something to be proud of.”-Sarah Giles

“Raising the minimum wage means much more than a blue coat. When I got up to speak last night, I wanted to say so much. I mentioned my college education, how I felt I fought for it, for nothing, then realized NO ONE could take my education from me!
“I spoke of transportation. $2.00/hr increase in minimum wage, would have afforded that simple luxury of having a bus ticket.. Instead, I made the 2 mile trek, one way, to work every day I was scheduled, and when I was called in, I went. On that first huge storm I was angry, scared, and relieved. I made it safely! (Thank you city of Bangor) Minimum wage, like every job, I felt stuck, I am over qualified, because I now have a college education. I am under qualified, because I have no experience. An employer is going to take a new graduate, over one who has been out of the field. The job search is much harder these days. It’s all about looking good to a computer, not who you know, and first impressions.”-Melissa L Connors

“When I started my last job, in 1999, I was making about ten thousand a year. When it went out of business at the start of 2014, I was making about fourteen thousand. If you adjust for inflation, I didn’t really get a raise over those fifteen years and was always just a hair’s breadth over the official poverty level.”-William Young

“It’s really hard to find a job you love and are good at that pays above minimum wage these days. I started as a cashier and got promoted to a team member with COSA rights — but I didn’t get a promotion in wage. I had more responsibilities but was getting paid the same wage as a cashier. Its sad, I really liked my job and the people I worked with but I couldn’t continue living paycheck to paycheck on a minimum wage salary. For the record, of it makes anyone feel better —I was getting paid minimum wage with a college degree in hospitality management. When someone with their college degree can’t even find a job that pays over minimum wage, then you know that something needs to change.” -Chelsea Cyr

Climate Change Causes Conflicts-Documentary Project to Bring Change

INSIGHTS

A short clip to help raise funds for the initiative from its director, Alexander Cornell du Houx:

The Solon Center for Research and Publishing has agreed to publish books based upon this documentary project which highlights conflicts around the globe that are a direct result of climate change and how community solutions, already available, could help defuse these problems. These videos, and a full-length film will be the basis of the books we will publish.

If you’d like to donate for the creation of the videos please do so through the Solon Center HERE. Small donations ($10) to large contributions (any amount) make a huge difference! None of the film is stock footage.

More from the project’s director, Alexander Cornell du Houx’s:

Background—

My deployment to Fallujah, Iraq, with the Marine Corps infantry, gave me a firsthand insight into why it’s critical to find solutions to the water insecurity connected…

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Gov. Baldacci and City Councilor Joe Baldacci to host Pro-Minimum Wage Spaghetti Dinner in Augusta

 

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Proceeds to help feed needy children in the area and their families

From  a Maine Insights article

Former Governor John Baldacci and Former Bangor Mayor and City Councilor Joe Baldacci will host a spaghetti supper to highlight why the minimum wage should be increased. The dinner will be held at Cony High School, 60 Pierce Drive, Augusta on May 11th, from 5:30-7:30. And it’s only $5 per person!

“These spaghetti dinners have always been a great opportunity to bring the community together for a family dinner that encourages discussion and unity on important working class issues,” said Bangor City Councilor Joe Baldacci.

The Baldacci brothers will be cooking the spaghetti sauce from their family’s secret recipe that became famous at Momma Baldacci’s, the former family restaurant of Bangor. The two-term governor, along with his brother will be serving the meal.

“Our dinners have become a family tradition, one where we’re proud to help out when and where we can,” said Governor John Baldacci.

Proceeds will go to local charities to benefit needy children in the area and their families.

Augusta City Councilors Dale McCormick, Linda Conti, and Anna Douglass Blodgett are graciously co-hosting the event.

Speakers from the Maine Center for Economic Policy, the Maine People’s Alliance, the Maine Democratic Party, other political leaders and concerned citizens will address the dire economic situation faced by low income Mainers and the need for action to increase the minimum wage. According to the non-partisan Economic Policy Institute (EPI) the federal minimum wage of $7.25 is worth $2 less today than it was in 1968 when adjusted for inflation.

Maine’s minimum wage is currently $7.50 an hour, increased during Baldacci administration in 2009. All efforts to raise the minimum wage at the state level since then have been defeated by Governor Paul LePage.

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Maine’s current minimum wage forces far too many families onto welfare rolls, and the need for federally subsidized healthcare. Someone working 40 hours a week at the minimum wage of $7.50, would earn $300 each week—or approximately $15,600 every year—well below the federal poverty line for families of two or more. Continue reading

No Mainer should be working full-time and still live in poverty.

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By Mark Eves, the Maine Speaker of the House

On Wednesday, May 11, I’m looking forward to joining the Baldacci family as they host a spaghetti supper in support of raising the minimum wage. The dinner, at $5 per person, will be held 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Cony High School, 60 Pierce Drive, in Augusta.

The dinner is focused on why raising the minimum wage is so important for our state, and I want to take a minute to share why I’ll be supporting the minimum wage referendum on this year’s ballot.

Like so many Mainers, my wife and I worry about how to make ends meet. We worry how we’ll balance our car payments and grocery bills with the hopes of sending our three kids to college and whether we’ll actually be able to care for our parents as they get older.

And just like our neighbors, we’re willing to work hard to make up the gaps. Mainers don’t want things handed to us. We just want providing for our families and saving for our kids’ future to be a little less difficult. Continue reading

Baldacci brother’s serve up their family’s famous spaghetti recipe for benefit dinner in Jay

News Channel 6 report on the Spaghetti dinner to help Jay mill workers: http://www.wcsh6.com/news/local/baldacci-brothers-host-dinner-to-help-laid-off-workers/49875166

Over $2300 in donations were made to the fuel fund because of the supper.

From Maine Insights:
Tonight Baldacci brother’s serve up their family’s famous spaghetti recipe for benefit dinner in Jay

by Ramona du Houx
TONIGHT: Former Gov. John Baldacci and former Bangor Mayor and City Councilor Joe Baldacci will host a spaghetti supper to benefit the Good Neighbor Fuel Fund 4-6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 20, at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Jay.
The spaghetti is made and good cheer awaits all participants!

Emily Cain will join Gov. Baldacci and Joe Baldacci helping serve piles of spaghetti with the Baldacci family’s secret sauce.

Last fall, Verso Corp. laid off 300 workers — roughly a third of the workforce — at its Androscoggin Mill in Jay. The mill is the largest employer in the area.

“These are our neighbors. They need us all to pull together and help them and their families. We need to keep public focus on the workers and their families who need help and real leadership,” said former Bangor Mayor Joe Baldacci. Continue reading

U.S. Labor Department reviews Portland’s minimum wage hike after Gov. LePage attack

Excerpt from the Portland Press Herald. Entire article HERE.

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By Randy Billings

The U.S. Department of Labor is reviewing Portland’s minimum wage ordinance, as well as similar laws in other cities and states, to see how it “intersects with federal tip credit law.”

Federal law sets a $5.12 maximum for the tip credit, which is the difference between tip earners’ base wage and the minimum. Under the ordinance that took effect in Portland on Jan. 1, the difference is $6.35. If workers’ tips don’t bring their overall pay to the minimum wage, the tip credit provision requires employers to make up the difference.
It’s not clear how long the review will take or what would happen here or elsewhere if the wage laws are found to be illegal. For now, restaurant owners are assuming that Portland’s ordinance is legal, but they are anxious for the matter to be resolved. . .

The issue was raised by Gov. Paul LePage on Thursday at a meeting of business leaders in Waterville, where he cited Portland’s new minimum wage ordinance as an example of why the minimum wage should be left alone.

His administration argues that Portland’s ordinance establishing a $10.10 an hour minimum wage doesn’t comply with federal law because the base wage for tipped workers, such as waiters and waitresses, continues to be $3.75, resulting in a $6.35 difference that exceeds the $5.12 maximum. Continue reading