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Maine legislature considering hike in minimum wage

Thumbnail image for USCurrency_Federal_Reserve.jpgRep. Scott Hamann, D-South Portland, has introduced a bill that would raise the minimum wage in Maine from $7.50/hr to $8.50/hr. The bill would also require the minimum wage to rise on an annual basis at the same rate as inflation. Maine’s AFL-CIO as well as other unions favor the bill while the Maine Chamber of Commerce opposes it.

“If we put money in the hands of the people most likely to spend it and most likely to spend it locally, this drives up consumption in Maine’s economy,” Hamann said. “If we increase consumption and demand for goods and services, businesses will hire more to keep up with demand, which is a net win for the state of Maine.”

“Our economy just doesn’t support that kind of wage an hour increase,” said Peter Gore of the Maine Chamber of Commerce. “From an economic standpoint, raising it by a dollar and indexing it annually, putting that element on automatic pilot, that’s just a bad idea.”

In New England, the only other state with a lower minimum wage than Maine is New Hampshire, which uses the federal minimum wage. Vermont has the highest minimum wage in New England at $8.60/hr.

If Maine raises its minimum wage, some employers may attempt to reclassify employees as independent contractors so that they can cheat employees out of pay they are owed. Keep in mind that just because your employer claims you are an independent contractor does not mean that you are, in fact, an independent contractor. Additionally, just because you agree to work for an unlawfully low wage does not mean that you cannot later demand that your employer pay you the wages that the law requires it to pay. If you believe that your employer is not paying you all of the wages the law requires, contact an experienced employment lawyer to learn more about your rights.