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Monday, July 15, 2024

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President Joe Biden calls on the nation to 'lower the temperature' on politics; Utah governor calls for unity following Trump assassination attempt; Civil rights groups sound the alarm on Project 2025; New England braces for 'above-normal' hurricane season.

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Former President Trump is injured but safe after an attempted assassination many condemn political violence. Democrats' fears intensify over Biden's run. And North Carolina could require proof of citizenship to vote.

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Enticing remote workers to move is a new business strategy in rural America, Eastern Kentucky preservationists want to save the 20th century home of a trailblazing coal miner, and a rule change could help small meat and poultry growers and consumers.

Effort continues to ensure state minimum wage for ME farmworkers

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Wednesday, March 27, 2024   

Legislation proposed by Maine Gov. Janet Mills would ensure thousands of farmworkers are eligible to receive the state minimum wage.

Current law requires they be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, compared to the state minimum wage of $14.15.

Cynthia Phinney, president of Maine AFL-CIO, said the bill still lacks protection from excessive forced overtime or the allowance for an unpaid rest break after six hours of work.

"Those are things that other workers are entitled to already and farmworkers are not," Phinney pointed out. "Certainly farmworkers work hard enough."

Phinney noted the legislation would require employers to keep records of their workers' hours and provide them with pay stubs. Some farmers have opposed the increase in wages and overtime protections, saying it could force them to cut workers' hours.

Farmworkers were intentionally excluded from benefits and protections in the National Labor Relations Act, which protects the rights of workers to unionize and collectively bargain. They were also originally exempted from wage and overtime protections in the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

Phinney argued it is time to correct the historical injustice.

"It's not lost on us that they were classifications that included largely workers of color," Phinney observed. "They included domestic workers, farmworkers."

Gov. Mills vetoed previous bills to ensure wage and other protections for farmworkers, only to develop a committee of union organizers, farmers, state agencies and lawmakers to develop the new legislation. If passed by the Legislature, the minimum wage for farmworkers would take effect Sept. 1, peak harvest time for Maine's blueberries and apples.


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"I truly love our Country, and love you all, and look forward to speaking to our Great Nation this week from Wisconsin," wrote Former President Donald Trump on social media. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

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