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MUUSAN Hits the Road


September 13th Meeting

Ever since the Maine UU State Advocacy Network was established in November 2012 we have met as a group at Community Church UU, in Augusta.  As a site, Augusta has been most convenient for the greatest number of members and friends, plus it is the State Capital and thus the focal point of most of our public policy concerns.  Augusta makes sense for MUUSAN.
 
But there's no getting around the uncomfortable fact that a meeting in Augusta leaves out a good many folks who otherwise would be interested in who we are and what we are doing.  So, we are hitting the road for our first regional meeting: next week, MUUSAN will meet from 10 am to 12 noon, September 13, at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Saco-Biddeford, 60 School Street, Saco. Especially if you haven't yet attended because of distance, please give us a try.  We are eager to be as inclusive as possible.


                         
Your presence in NYC on September 21st matters!!            

Seats are still available on the bus MUUSAN chartered for the People’s Climate March .  Click here for more information and to reserve your seat today.  First Parish Church in Portland has generously offered to allow bus riders sleep on their floor upon our return late Sunday/early Monday morning.  Please let me know if you intend to sleep there.
 
UU Justice Web Metro NY  lists UU activities and events surrounding the march.  RSPV at their site if you are attending.  Scheduled Events for Sunday, September 21st:
  • 11:30 a.m. People’s Climate March: UUs will gather with 10,000 others in a faith contingent on 58th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues.  We will begin in a massive interfaith prayer service right there on the street.  Wear your Standing on the Side of Love shirt if you have one.  You are welcome to bring your banner – if you can carry it without poles.   
  • 3:30-5:30pm: Unitarian Universalists Unite: Debrief at Community Church of New York, UU, 40 East 35th St.

  • 6pm: Interfaith Worship Service at Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Ave. This public multifaith celebration will include government officials, activists, scientists and artists, and will be held in conjunction with the World Council of Churches and Religions for Peace as well as other institutional partners in building momentum for a decisive U.N. Climate Summit.



                                 
 
 

National #WageOutrage Campaign Urges Higher Minimum Wage for Maine and U.S.


AUGUSTA, Maine/CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Wednesday, September 3, 2014 -- As the U.S. Senate reconvenes (September 8) and restarts the debate on raising the federal minimum wage, Maine activists and a national #WageOutrage campaign are turning to Senator Susan Collins, asking her help to bring the Minimum Wage Fairness Act (S. 2223) to the Senate floor for a vote in September. 

Harkin's bill, if passed, would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour nationally. 

In a Pine Tree State #WageOutrage blitz, advocates will reach out to Mainers this week asking them to call Senator Collins and urge her support in making a higher minimum wage a reality. 

The national #WageOutrage effort is co-sponsored by human rights and worker justice organization the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC), and in Maine is co-sponsored by the Maine Unitarian Universalist State Advocacy Network (MUUSAN).

UUSC's national #WageOutrage campaign is calling on lawmakers via activist outreach and social media to raise the federal minimum wage to at least $10.10 an hour, and the minimum wage for tipped workers from $2.13 an hour to 70 percent of the hourly minimum wage.

So far, conservative Senate leaders have refused to allow a vote on increasing the current $7.25 hourly minimum. In April, the Senate bill was filibustered. Senator Collins voted not to end the filibuster and has since been working on a compromise bill.

"We are now encouraging her to vote yes to bring the Senate bill to the floor for a vote. We acknowledge Senator Collins for taking steps to raise the wage above the poverty line for a family of three, and that she has floated the possibility of a $9.00 minimum wage nationwide," says Kara Smith, UUSC senior associate for activism and mobilization nationally. 

"Yet, we also encourage her to reconsider an increase to at least $10.10, not only for Maine residents but for 28 million workers across the U.S. Collins voted for such an increase in 2007," Smith said. 

Dale McCormick, Augusta resident and City Councilor At-Large, is a longtime rights advocate and member of the Maine Unitarian Universalist State Advocacy Network (MUUSAN). "In Augusta, almost all the new jobs we've added here are low wage, low benefit jobs," said McCormick. "That is pretty much the case for the state as a whole and for the country. 

"That is why we're seeing more activity on the part of food workers who are most vocal to increase the minimum wage and the minimum," she said. "They want America to realize that these jobs that used to be extra jobs are now often the only jobs they have to support themselves and their families.

"Senator Collins has been conservative on economic issues. The fact that she is considering a compromise of raising the wage to $9.00 an hour, up from Maine's current $7.50 rate, alone speaks volumes to how much Maine does need to raise its minimum wage," McCormick said.

UUSC's Smith said that according to the Economic Policy Institute it is estimated that some 121,000 workers in Maine would get a raise if the minimum wage were increased.

Rev. Carie Johnsen, pastor of the Unitarian Universalist Community Church in Augusta, is a MUUSAN steering committee member. Johnsen says, "Everyday in my ministry in Augusta I bear witness to the indignities that people are living with on a daily basis because they're being paid less than a living wage. A living wage is one way we the people can ensure that those working hard are given the dignity they deserve."

"They're struggling to make ends meet, to buy groceries and gas. The difference that $120 would make in a family's [current] minimum-wage-based $300 a week income is significant. Raising the minimum wage to at least $10.10 will make a world of difference in the lives of our children and families," Johnsen said. 

The #WageOutrage initiative puts emphasis on economic justice for women in Maine and nationally. In Maine, more than six in 10 of its minimum wage earners are women. 62 percent of those have no partner supplementing their income.

"Not only will raising the minimum wage help Maine’s struggling women workers, but when they spend their increased wages, it will give the economy of Maine a big boost," said Augusta's McCormick.

"I know $10.10 an hour isn't a living wage in 2014, but it's a heck of a lot better than the current minimum,” said McCormick. 

"Last spring, Maine's Unitarian Universalists made a difference by calling Senator Collins and asking her to vote in favor of declassification of the Senate Intelligence Committee's Torture Report. She did that decisively," UUSC's Smith said. 

"The fall session for Congress is a short one before the mid-term elections. We trust that the Senate will decide firmly and quickly on the side of struggling workers and their families."

Contacts:
Media liaison: Jan Dragin – 24/7 – Cell phone: (339) 236-0679
UUSC Communications Director: Paul Twitchell, (617) 301-4355
Sen. Collin's phone number is: 207-945-0417 or the link to contact her by email ist http://www.collins.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email

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MAINE FACTS:

• 12 percent of all children in Maine have a parent who stands to get a raise if the minimum wage is hiked to at least $10.10. That increase translates to:

• Almost six months' Fair Market rent for a two-bedroom apartment, according to the White House, or 
• 33 weeks of groceries based on the USDA's Thrifty Food Plan

Maine's $7.50 an hour minimum wage and its $3.75 tipped hourly wage are higher than the national rates, but according to "Families Out of Balance," a new report from the Alliance for a Just Society, Maine's workers are falling farther behind. 

The report indicates that, for a single adult with no children working full-time in Maine, a "living wage" is $15.82 an hour. 
 
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