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Committee to issue report on minimum wage for Maine farmworkers

In this Friday, Aug. 24, 2018, photo, a worker rakes wild blueberries at a farm in Union, Maine.
Robert F. Bukaty
/
Associated Press file
In this Friday, Aug. 24, 2018, photo, a worker rakes wild blueberries at a farm in Union, Maine.

The state's Agricultural Workers Minimum Wage Committee, convened by Gov. Janet Mills, will meet Monday to report on what they learned during listening sessions with farm employers.

Committee members investigated support for future legislation regarding minimum wage for agricultural workers, how to apply it and whether they will pay Maine's hourly minimum wage of $13.80 or the federal wage of $7.25 per hour.

"My goal in 45 years of working with farmworkers is to provide the same bundle of rights when it comes to minimum wage that all workers in join, knowing that living on minimum wage is not an easy thing to do," says committee member Thom Harnett. "This is just talking about the bare minimum and giving dignity and respect to the people that put food on our tables."

Mills vetoed the bill on minimum wage for farm workers during the last legislative session, saying she thought the bill was confusing and might have unintended consequences. The Committee's recommendations for the governor are due Dec. 1.

Harnett says Mills will then introduce her own bill to address agricultural minimum wage. State House Speaker Rachel Talbot-Ross will also introduce a bill on minimum wage and overtime provisions for farm workers.