Dem Radio Address: Boyle says: Mainers can’t afford the leadership of a governor who doesn’t put Maine workers first
This weekend is Labor Day weekend. A three day weekend that marks the end of summer and a return to school. It’s often a reality check—a reminder that shorter days, and colder nights, are right around the corner. And while many of us are grateful for that extra day off, we may not always remember why Labor Day is celebrated.
Good Morning. This is State Senator Jim Boyle of Gorham.
For more than a hundred years, Americans have celebrated Labor Day as tribute to the American worker. Labor Day became a holiday during a time in our nation’s history that is very similar to today’s economic times.
And while there’s no doubt that much has improved for American workers, we still have a ways to go.
But we certainly don’t have to look very far—take the workers at the Market Basket—to see how influential American workers can be in a business’ success or failure; or, the impact they have on the economy.
But beyond the generic category of “the American worker,” what we’re really talking about is…people. You and me.
I own a small business right here in Gorham. I employ eight people. And, I can tell you that for the last 18 years, not a day goes by that I don’t worry about how to best ensure the security and safety of my employees.
I want to ensure financial stability for my employees—from how much they get paid, to the paid time off needed for life’s celebrations, like welcoming a new child, to life’s challenges, like the illness of a loved one. Integral to all of that, is the security of their own health. And, having health insurance is the key so that folks can get to their doctor when they need to—whether that’s when an emergency strikes or for a wellness visit that can reduce future health risks.
Right now, Maine workers are experiencing a unique challenge. With Maine lagging behind the rest of the country in jobs created since the end of the Great Recession, more and more Mainers are either out of work, earning too little to pay the bills, or working two and three jobs just to make ends meet.
According to the Department of Labor, the nation as a whole has recovered all of the jobs lost during the Great Recession—and then some; yet, right here in Maine, we’ve recovered just over half of the jobs lost.
And, Mainers aren’t earning what we used to.
Mainers who work full time making minimum wage, only earn $15,600 per year. More than six in ten minimum-wage earners are women—many of whom have children and do not have a spouse’s income to supplement.
And when we look at all of the wage-earners in our state—compared to how the rest of the country is doing, Maine is at the bottom of the pack—ranking second-to-last, or 49th in the country for the last four years.
Fortunately, I’m an optimist!
I saw the opportunities that were turned away by Governor LePage, like the $120 million investment by Statoil, an international clean energy innovator. I saw the jobs he left on the table, like refusing to issue voter-approved bonds, causing thousands of construction workers to be jobless for two whole construction seasons. And, I know that we all agree that we can’t let that happen again. Mainers simply can’t afford that kind of leadership.
We need leaders who will put Mainers first—not use them as a prop at a press conference.
We need leaders who are grounded in reality—Maine’s reality. Who will get to work with us on what’s right and what’s best for our economy—like raising the minimum wage to a living wage; like closing the wage gap between men and women, so that there really is no distinction between the paycheck of a man or a woman. And leaders who have the confidence and appreciation for all that Mainers have to offer. We want businesses to close the deal in Maine—with Mainers; not take their investment dollars elsewhere, only to leave Maine with empty cubicles.
On this Labor Day weekend, let’s all be thankful for those who came before us to define the American worker. And, let’s also forge ahead and make ourselves better.
Thank you for listening. This is State Senator Jim Boyle of Gorham. Have a great long weekend.