A proposal by the Maine Democratic Socialists for America got a major boost Friday when former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton endorsed the referendum question to raise Portland’s minimum wage to $18 per hour.
In an ad urging voters to support Question D, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee stated “too many people are being priced out of Portland” and other cities because they can’t afford to live and work there. The former First Lady and senator from New York added that supporting Question D would raise wages for 20,000 workers in Portland, including tipped workers like taxi drivers, domestic workers and restaurant workers.
“Now, you have the opportunity to make sure every worker in Portland receives a stable, livable wage,” Clinton said in the ad.
Question D would raise the minimum wage in Portland from its current figure and incremental track — $13 per hour before hitting $15 per hour in 2024 – to one that pays $15 an hour come January 1, with incremental raises of $1.50 to reach $18 per hour by 2025.
Clinton’s endorsement comes via One Fair Wage Action, which is the national 501c4 that is looking to raise wages all around the country. They have similar campaigns going on in several other states. One Fair Wage Portland is the state-level affiliate of that group, and is advocating for Question D to pass.
The Maine Center for Economic Policy, a nonpartisan policy research group, released a report in August that found that the ballot question would directly impact the wage of 17,800 workers in Portland if passed, and indirectly impact 4,800 more.
Clinton joins other national Democrats who have endorsed minimum wage increases, like Vermont senator and 2016 and 2020 primary candidate senator Bernie Sanders.
Wes Pelletier, an organizer for the Maine DSA and chair of its Portland Campaign Committee, welcomed endorsement from Clinton and others who “stand behind this [referendum] because they know it’s the right thing for working-class people.”
Pelletier argues that raising the minimum wage is “something that will help workers and won’t hurt local businesses.”
This story will be updated.