Following last year’s landmark victories in Washington, DC and New York state, the Fight for $15 continues along the eastern seaboard. The fight picks up Tuesday (March 7) as the House hears a bill that puts Maryland’s minimum wage on a path to $15/hour.
Montgomery County, Maryland became the first jurisdiction in 2017 to pass a $15 minimum wage before County Executive Ike Leggett became the first Democratic executive to veto such a measure. The newly elected Baltimore city council passed its own bill for $15 out of committee which could go to the full council as early as Monday.
Building on this momentum and anger from constituents cheated out of a raise in Montgomery County, Progressive Maryland is launching a statewide “Maryland for $15” campaign. (Be sure to follow on Facebook and Twitter for updates.)
Republicans and anti-worker Democrats may balk at such a proposal, but the reality is nowhere in Maryland is affordable for working families earning less than $15/hour.
At least 907,755 Maryland workers currently earn less than $15/hour–a number that will only grow considering 5 of the 10 largest industries in the state pay wages averaging less than $15. The stable, middle-class jobs found in manufacturing and trades have given way to low-wage service sector jobs. For every job in Maryland that pays a living wage, there are at least 6 job seekers.
Furthermore the minimum wage worker has changed. The average worker is much more likely to be a woman of color supporting a family than a teenager trying to earn extra cash for the weekend. This new movement for higher wages is not only about economic justice, but racial justice and gender equity as well.
The structure of our economy no longer matches what it actually costs to live and raising wages is the only way to curtail the trend before we find ourselves in crisis. Opponents of such measures, especially those with a pro-businesses stance, would do well to remember that raising wages puts more money in the pockets of their customer base.
To formally launch the campaign, Progressive Maryland alongside allies is hosting a news conference on Tuesday, March 7th in Annapolis to bring attention to this critical issue and send a signal to lawmakers that we are serious about ensuring workers can live and thrive in Maryland.
- Phase-in a $15 state minimum wage by 2022 for workers employed by companies with 26 or more employees
- Phase-in a $15 state minimum wage by 2023 for workers employed by companies with 25 or fewer employees
- Eliminate the subminimum tipped wage by 2024
- Adjust all wages based on changes in the Consumer Price Index beginning in 2025
We are committed to fighting as long as it takes to win worker-sustaining wages in the state of Maryland and holding anti-worker politicians accountable regardless of political party.
A hearing on the House bill’s Senate counterpart, SB0962, is scheduled for March 15.
There will be lots of updates coming soon from the campaign, so be sure to sign up for email alerts. If you are interested in volunteering with the campaign, contact Justin Vest at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This post originally appeared on the Progressive Maryland blog.