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Business and Economy

Portland Chamber, Businesses Sue City Over Voter-Approved Wage Measure

The Portland Regional Chamber and five local businesses are filing suit against the city over a wage measure approved by Portland voters last month.

The measure, among other things, requires employers to pay “essential” workers time and a half during any proclaimed emergency, like the state of civil emergency recently renewed by Gov. Janet Mills.

“This is just not a sustainable model. For them to be paying time and a half, for a variety of reasons, they can’t continue to operate with their current employment levels,” says Attorney John Aromando, representing the five businesses that brought the challenge.

The suit claims that under the Maine constitution and the city code, the provision goes beyond the powers given to voters to enact measures by referendum.

Aromando told reporters Tuesday that if the courts uphold the voters’ action, then the suit will seek a declaration as to when the time and a half provision takes effect. Backers say it will take effect on Dec. 5; Portland officials have said they don’t plan to enforce it until 2022.