Wage Hike Hypocrisy 

Maine group paying workers $10 to tout $12 wage 

July 6, 2016

The activist group leading the charge to enact a $12 minimum wage in Maine pays its workers less than that amount.

The Maine People’s Alliance wants Maine’s minimum wage to increase from $7.50 to $12 an hour, a 60 percent hike. The group posted an advertisement on Craigslist hoping to recruit canvassers and community organizers to "Work toward a fair minimum wage for Maine." Prospective candidates must be willing to work about 20 hours a week for a starting wage of $429 every two weeks, which works out to about $10 an hour.

"The Phone Canvasser/Organizers are responsible for acting as a communications liaison between MPA and our members, and will engage in grassroots fundraising, member development, and voter education," the post says.

The group highlights numerous side-benefits of the position in question in the post. It offers bonuses as an incentive for workers and touts the position as an opportunity for the entry-level workers to build up their resume and work experience.

"This position is part-time, Monday through Friday, 4:45-9:00pm. Base pay starts at $429 biweekly plus bonuses. After three months, health insurance will be included and dental insurance available. Extensive training makes for excellent professional development and resume-building," it says.

The group is attempting to put a proposal on the ballot that would immediately hike the minimum wage to $9 an hour in 2017 and raise it to $12 by 2020. The job posting’s rhetoric stands at odds with the group’s argument for hiking the minimum wage through a ballot initiative.

"Low pay is not OK. Maine families work hard and should be able to earn a fair wage," the Alliance says on its website. "The Mainers who would benefit the most from raising the minimum wage are also the people who are more likely to spend that extra money in their communities, improving our local economies."

Statewide Canvass Director Daniel Sipe, who is listed as the point man for hiring prospective organizers, did not return a Washington Free Beacon request for comment.

Labor watchdogs said that the nature of the job posting includes many of the problems that massive wage hikes cause for employers and entry-level workers alike. Michael Saltsman, research director for the free market Employment Policies Institute, said that entry-level workers often require lengthy training, which is why businesses often choose to offer lower wages for them. Boosting the minimum wage, he said, would give businesses the incentive to look only for candidates with job experience and eliminate younger or less seasoned applicants.

Saltsman called the posting hypocritical.

"The Maine Peoples Alliance and the ‘Mainers for Fair Wages’ coalition have been unyielding in their quest for a $12 minimum wage," he said. "It’s shocking to see the Alliance now hiring young people to canvass for a $12 minimum wage at an effective hourly starting rate closer to $10. The reported availability of bonuses to bring employees above $12 is no excuse, given that the Alliance is campaigning on the logic that employers can't count anything other than employees' hourly wages as income."

The $12 wage backed by the Alliance mirrors that of presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

The former secretary of state has rejected the $15 rate proposed by Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which nevertheless endorsed her over $15 wage supporter Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., VT). Clinton said that she fears the $15 rate, more than double the federal minimum of $7.25, would lead to "unintended consequences like job loss." An EPI study found that the $12 rate would eliminate more than 800,000 jobs nationwide.

Published under: Minimum Wage , Unions