Raising the minimum wage is vital for Maine and will give more than 180,000 hardworking Mainers a well-deserved raise, providing necessary relief to families struggling to make ends meet. That helps small businesses by putting income into the pockets of folks who will spend it locally.

But what makes the initiative truly unique is its inclusion of tipped-wage workers, who currently make $3.75/hr — a wage that can only be described as insulting.

Aside from being so obviously inadequate that it hardly bears pressing the point, that wage leaves tipped-wage workers — disproportionately female — dangerously dependent upon the whims of their customers for their livelihood.

It infuriates me to see the bald-faced harassment that my friends, hardworking women and excellent servers, regularly bite their tongues and endure out of sheer economic necessity.

Upton Sinclair wrote, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” I would iterate upon Sinclair and state: it is difficult for a woman to value herself when her salary depends upon her devaluing herself.

If a woman is required to tacitly condone harassment by white-knuckling it; if her job is to continue to smile and appease a customer who has disrespected her because her children at home are depending upon her paycheck to eat and to pay the rent, then what message are we sending her about her value to society?

It’s high time people step up, vote yes on Question 4, and give tipped-wage workers the respect they deserve.

Allie Smith, Poland

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