$15 minimum wage bill on the way to Hogan's desk

Fight_for_15_lights.pngThe Maryland General Assembly has passed a bill that puts Maryland on a path to reach a $15-per-hour minimum wage by 2025.

Progressive forces didn’t get everything we wanted in this bill, as Larry Stafford, Progressive Maryland’s executive director, points out. But the state's progressive forces got major traction this year, always building power.



 

The Maryland General Assembly has passed a bill that puts Maryland on a path to reach a $15-per-hour minimum wage by 2025.

Pamela Wood in the Sun does a great wrap today, including the timetable for forcing the governor to act on the bill – veto or not – in time for the Assembly to override a possible veto in this session.

Progressive forces didn’t get everything we wanted in this bill, as Larry Stafford, Progressive Maryland’s executive director, pointsPM_Logo.png out in the article. "It's not perfect, but we got a victory," Stafford said. At the end, the House pushed back on the Senate’s attempt to string out the raise for businesses under 15 employees (that’s three-quarters of all Maryland businesses) and shortened the timetable for that.

Probably the biggest gaps in the new bill are leaving tipped workers behind (to earn as little as $3.63 an hour plus what luck brings them), carving out agricultural and youth workers, and failing to include automatic indexing based on the cost of living after $15 is reached. That means fighting the same fight all over again in 2025.

MD_state_house_sketch.jpgEmpowered progressives can already envision legislation next year to add indexing to the timetable – and to strengthen protections for tipped workers. Their employers are supposed to supplement their tips so that they are paid the full minimum wage, but many bosses manage to skirt that. And all low-wage workers are vulnerable to the whims of employers in the age of “at-will” employment or dismissal. Strengthening protections against wage theft – with penalties that would really bite – should also be on the next legislative agenda.

But progressive forces, with Progressive Maryland up front, have seen their strength get traction in this year’s legislative landscape and the power built this year can and should be maintained and increased between legislative sessions and elections.

Here is Stafford's full statement:

“Hundreds of thousands of Maryland workers can celebrate today’s passage of the $15 minimum wage bill. We thank the leaders who ushered this important legislation through the General Assembly and the activists who made it happen. Progressive Maryland is committed to ensuring that this bill is enacted and will fight any executive action that imperils the rise in the state’s basement wage.

“As we celebrate, however, we must acknowledge the thousands of workers who were carved out of this bill. Thousands of young workers, tipped workers, and agricultural workers will not share in the economic benefits of the higher wage. Tipped workers’ wages remain frozen at $3.63 per hour, workers under the age of 18 will earn a so-called training wage, and agricultural workers will continue to be left out of the minimum wage rate altogether.

“Though raising the minimum wage to $15 is a win for working families, this victory is sullied by the triumph of the business lobby who advocated with legislators and leadership for these subminimum wages, leaving thousands of workers behind.

“In 2018, legislators successfully ran on platforms that included passage of a $15 minimum wage bill. With the passage of the nation’s sixth state-wide $15 minimum wage, we see the tide changing in Annapolis, where workers’ voices are being heard, not just the wealthy and well-connected.”