Considering the extreme failure of the minimum wage hike in Seattle, it’s not surprising that when Maine proposed raising its minimum wage, restaurant workers pushed back.
The Washington Post reports:
As the Maine House voted on a bill to reduce the minimum wage for tipped restaurant workers, Jason Buckwalter and a dozen fellow servers huddled in a back room listening to the vote call at the Bangor steakhouse where they work.
They all hoped to hear one thing: that state legislators had voted to lower their wages. Some cried with relief, Buckwalter said, when the final vote ended at 110 to 37 — overwhelmingly in their favor.
The vote, which took place on June 13, marked the conclusion of a months-long political saga that has upended conventional wisdom about the minimum wage. Workers have traditionally supported such increases, which advocates say are critical to lifting millions out of poverty.
But in Maine, servers actively campaigned to overturn the results of a November referendum raising servers’ hourly wages from $3.75 in 2016 to $12 by 2024, saying it would cause customers to tip less and actually reduce their take-home income.
The bill was signed into law on June 22 by Republican Gov. Paul LePage, a strident critic of raising the tipped minimum wage.
The servers’ campaign against increasing the minimum wage was a blow to labor activists, who believed the Maine referendum could kick off similar votes in New York, Massachusetts and D.C.
Instead, some servers in those places are already mobilizing against a higher wage.
“The next fight is on the national level,” said Buckwalter, who organized other servers to lobby Maine politicians and is now working with waitstaff in Minneapolis and Seattle. “I had lost my faith in government. This restored it, a little.”
Government inaction restores faith in government? That sounds about right.