After any election, we take a little time to evaluate what we see on the horizon for our organization’s work. While we still don’t know all that we’ll be facing in the coming months, we do know some things that we’ll need to invest our energy in and we hope you can help.
FIGHTING FOR FAIR WAGES
We were thrilled to see Question 4, An Act To Raise the Minimum Wage, pass on Election Day. This is a big deal for women in Maine who make up the majority of workers who earn the minimum wage. Maine will gradually raise our minimum wage to $12 by 2020 and link future increases to the cost of living. Another key part of this new law gradually raises the subminimum wage for workers who earn tips until it reaches the regular minimum wage in 2024. Tipped workers face increased poverty as well as greater levels of harassment than other workers—and more than 70% are women. With this new law, Maine joins seven other states in treating all workers fairly. It’s a huge victory.
Unfortunately, we already know this new law will be under attack when the legislature convenes in January. Lobbyists for the restaurant industry as well as the Maine State Chamber of Commerce have said that they will ask lawmakers to eliminate increases for tipped workers and remove the provision that links future increases to inflation. The Maine Women’s Lobby will be in the halls of the state house to stand against these attacks. It’s also important for women’s economic security that we all talk with our legislators about the need to follow the will of Maine voters and keep this new law intact.
ACCESS TO EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND CHILD CARE
Parents of young children in Maine face many barriers when they look for early childhood education programs and quality, affordable child care. This is serious not only because the first five years of a child’s life are critical in shaping the architecture of the brain, but also because lack of access to quality, affordable care impacts families’ economic security.
That’s why we’re working with the Maine Children’s Alliance to examine the challenges that Maine families face. And you can help! Your story will aid our understanding of the current challenges as well as possible solutions to make sure more families can get what they need. Go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/mechildsurveyto share your experiences. If you have any questions, you can contact Victoria at 207.622.0851 x5 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE NEED FOR PAID LEAVE
Time and again we hear from women who are struggling because they don’t have access to paid leave. Women who are pregnant, have recently given birth, or are adopting a child struggle financially if they take the time they need to care for a new child without a paycheck. Women who are trying to care for an aging spouse or parent face similar financial challenges. But the majority of workers don’t have access to paid leave through their workplaces.
It doesn’t have to be this way. There are policy solutions to expand access to paid leave for all workers. Once again, your story can help. Go to bit.ly/paidleavestory to share your experiences or talk to Victoria at 207.622.0851 x5.
STRENGTH GOING FORWARD
As we look to the 128th Legislative Session, we know we’ll see attacks on our access to reproductive health care. We’ll face renewed efforts to weaken our safety net programs for families struggling with poverty. We’ll likely need to stand against efforts to take away rights from LGBTQ+ Mainers. And we’ll see further attempts to close Maine to immigrants. We’ll also need to watch for attacks in Congress and keep a close eye on who is nominated to fill the current Supreme Court vacancy so that we can call on our Senators to stand for women during the confirmation process.
At the same time, we will need to look for opportunities to make progress because we can’t afford to stop fighting for a better world.
It can be daunting to think about the challenges we’ll face in the months and years ahead. But we will not stop being YOUR voice in the halls of the state house and beyond. We are here for you and we will not be silent. We continue to hold on to our vision for a better future for Maine women and girls. We will have to think of new strategies to make progress and we will need to organize like never before.
You can help support our work by making a donation to the Maine Women’s Lobby today. You can give online at bit.ly/MWLdonate or mail your gift to 124 Sewall St., Augusta, ME 04330.
Each one of us deserves to live our lives without fear of violence, with access to health care, with autonomy over our own bodies, with financial security, and with equity & dignity no matter our race, religious beliefs, ethnicity, gender, immigration status, or sexual orientation.
Please feel free to reach out to Kathy at email@example.com or 207.622.0851 x3 if you have any questions or thoughts about our work for the future. Thank you for standing with us in these challenging times.