STATEWIDE — Lawmakers are considering a bill to restore overtime protections for Maine workers.
“Working class Mainers deserve to be paid overtime when they work longer hours, but for thousands of low-income Mainers, this is not the case,” said Democratic Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross.
Talbot Ross, who is sponsoring the bill, said only 20% of Maine’s salaried workers are currently eligible for overtime protections.
“LD 607 would restore overtime protections to these workers by increasing the salary threshold to a more reasonable level,” Talbot Ross said.
James Myall, a policy analyst for the Maine Center for Economic Policy, said most people think of a typical work week as being 40 hours. He said a survey conducted in 2019 found about a third of Maine workers said they’re asked to work unpaid overtime hours.
“We do know that this kind of, asking people to work more than 40 hours without compensating them fairly for it does happen in Maine,” Myall said. “It’s definitely an issue that both has support in Maine but also is needed.”
Several workers in Maine’s tourism industry spoke against the proposal and said it would hurt them.
“This escalator that puts the salary for overtime threshold, however you want to define it, at $55,000 plus likely in 2024 is just too much,” said Josh Tardy, who spoke on behalf of the Maine Tourism Association.
Gordon McAleer, who operates a chocolate shop in Rockland, brought the perspective from a small business.
“Coming in with this new legislation at a time when we’re all struggling to get back on our feet, I think is really unfortunate to put those burdens on us,” McAleer said.
The Committee on Labor and Housing will hold a work session to decide whether to recommend passage of the bill.