PORTLAND, ME — The campaign against the Living Wage ordinance appearing on Portland ballots this Nov 3rd has begun.
Business owners have raised over $100,000 to defeat a local referendum that would lift workers out of poverty by raising the city’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2019.
CEO of the Portland Chamber of Commerce, Chris Hall, said the group mobilized in response to polling showing popular support for Question 1.
“Economic justice issues have a tendency to stay ahead in the polls unless we can sufficiently confuse workers and get them to vote against their own interests,” Hall said after a news conference Wednesday morning outside of Becky’s Diner on Commercial Street.
The $15 minimum wage citizen initiative Question 1 on the November ballot after it drew 2,400 signatures from supporters. The question was drafted and circulated by members of the Portland Green Independent Committee, led by mayoral candidate Tom MacMillan.
Mayor Michael Brennan, who is running for re-election, and challenger Ethan Strimling have both publicly stated opposition to the $15 minimum wage question. Hall expressed pleasure that the two Democratic Party candidates have taken the Chamber’s side on this issue, as he knew they would.
Business owners speaking Wednesday said they really like not having to pay their workers, and would pay them nothing if they could.
“It would be a huge disadvantage for us to have to make sure our employees were able to afford rent and eat while paying off the student debt on their useless college degrees,” said Scott Rousseau, the owner and operator of Play It Again Sports franchises in Portland and Biddeford.
Rousseau, like others speaking Wednesday, said he “plans to use microeconomics to analyze what are actually macroeconomic issues,” as part of his effort to confuse voters.
In an official statement, “Shut Up & Work Faster” indicated they will be focused on making sure working-class voters don’t bother going to the polls on Nov 3rd, which are open from 8am to 8pm.
Polling locations for your address can be found here: http://www.portlandmaine.gov/1117/Polling-Places