• Fight For $15 Just Hit A Setback In Portland, Of All Places

    In a huge setback to $15 minimum-wage supporters, voters in Portland, Maine rejected a proposal Tuesday to enact the policy in their city.

    City residents voted nearly 58 to 42 percent against the increase. The city ordinance was designed to phase in over time. The Portland Green Independent Committee fought to get it on the ballot. While advocates argued it would help low-wage workers, critics warned it could severely limit job opportunities.

    Right now I’m feeling a huge sense of relief for every small business owner in Portland, and everyone who works for me,” Play It Again Sports Owners Scott Rousseau said, according to Portland Press Herald. “I think it’s great news for the future of our city.”

    Critics warn businesses would have few options to offset the added cost of labor– they could increase prices or hire less workers. In some cases, the businesses could have to close. The potential problem is especially true for low-profit industries like restaurants. Supporters, however, say the increase would allow more people to afford basic necessities. The increased spending would then stimulate economic growth.

    Seattle led the way in passing the $15 minimum wage back in June 2014. San Francisco and Los Angeles followed not long after. Each local ordinance phased in the new wage over the course of several years. Some Seattle businesses, though, have reported problems because of the increase.

    Much of the debate boiled down to rival media campaigns. Patriotic Millionaires launched ads in support of a $15 minimum on television, as well as online. The group normally fights for minimum wage increases on the national level. Its latest advertisements latest advertisements focusing on Maine premiered Monday. The Portland Regional Chamber has been opposing the policy with its own media campaign.

    Nationwide, the group Fight for $15 has led much of the effort. The group is backed by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Conservative opposition research group AR Squared (AR2) alleges that the push is more about helping the union as opposed to low-wage workers.

    “By voting against a $15 minimum wage, voters in Portland, Maine sided with their local businesses and rejected the SEIU’s effort to increase its membership rolls,” AR2 Communications Director Natalie Gillam said in a statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “From Portland to the Clinton HQ in Brooklyn, yesterday was a bad day for union bosses at SEIU in D.C.”

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