People First Portland Builds Local Power

People First Portland claims victory on four progressive referenda questions

Portland, ME: Despite being outspent nearly 30-1, People First Portland achieved historic victories on Tuesday night in passing a higher minimum wage for all workers and hazard pay for essential workers, a ban on facial surveillance, a local Green New Deal to reduce our carbon footprint, and renter protections to prevent price gouging. 

"These wins are the result of decades of activism by housing, climate and racial justice coalitions. We are grateful to stand alongside them and those directly impacted; and are committed to the difficult and necessary work of creating a more equitable and just city," said Jack O'Brien

"We expect the Mayor and council to begin immediately acting on the will of the people by taking transparent steps to fully implement these ordinances," said Kate Sykes, of People First Portland.

Em Burnett, also of People First Portland, added, “There are a number of important steps the city must immediately take to implement these transformative initiatives, including:

  1. Notify all businesses that starting Dec. 3rd all essential workers must be paid no less than $18 an hour and that the wage for all minimum wage workers will increase to $13 an hour on Jan. 1, 2022.

  2. Prepare to create the Rental Board and appoint members so tenants and landlords have a fully functioning board by early 2021.

  3. Notify all landlords that rents must revert back to the level they were on June 1st, that they must now accept tenants with Section 8 Vouchers, and that all at-will tenants must receive 90 days notice prior to eviction.

  4. Register all rental units in the city with the City Housing Office by January 1, 2021.

  5. Display entire rent and tenant protections in each building operated by a landlord, regardless if that building is covered by a specific provision or not.

  6. Reach out to the Maine Department of Labor and the Apprenticeship Board to develop language for all Portland vendors who receive $50,000 or more to ensure compliance with Prevailing Wages, safety, and training requirements as mandated by the Green New Deal.

  7. Notify the Planning Board that all new housing projects must meet the 25% inclusionary zoning requirement and improved affordability standards.

  8. Ensure that the Portland Police Department, and all city staff, are fully aware of the new consequences of violating the city’s facial surveillance ban.

Kate Sykes added, “Time is of the essence and we look forward to monitoring the progress of the city. We stand ready to ensure these are fully and transparently implemented and enforced. The people have spoken and this is now the law of the City of Portland. We expect the City to vigorously defend these laws in court if they are challenged by the same powerful interests who spent upwards of a million dollars to defeat them. We have come to expect Donald Trump’s administration to threaten the will of the people, but here in Portland we hope we have a far higher standard of democracy."

Key campaign coalition member Black P.O.W.E.R. released a statement this morning celebrating the win, "The power of the people is alive and well in Portland, Maine. We are proud to be in coalition with PFP, and all of the incredible organizers and groups who fought for these referendums. City officials should take note of and commend the ability of community lead organizing to deliver what constituents need.  This is only the beginning, and Black POWER, alongside the organizations and organizers here today, will continue to demand differently."

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