This week in the Memo -- save our Fight For Fifteen minimum wage from the Board of Public Works loophole! Keep the state safe, resist the selfish astroturf effort to open up prematurely. Sign up for Thursday's statewide conversation on healthcare and the coronavirus. And read our blog posts. All here in the Memo.
Thanks to you and thousands of Progressive Maryland members and our partners in the Fight For $15 Campaign, we won legislation that increases the minimum wage over a multi-year period to $15 for a typical worker by January 2025. The statewide minimum wage is currently set at $11 and is scheduled to go up again in January. But there’s a chance that this important increase could be delayed.
The 2019 law gave the Board of Public Works (BPW) the option to delay the minimum wage increase raise by a year if it decides to do so based on decreasing employment. A pandemic on this scale was not foreseen at that time and we are clearly experiencing a period of declining employment. But given the serious financial hardship people are facing during this unprecedented public health crisis, especially low wage earners, the hardship should not be compounded by delaying the increase to the minimum wage. The BPW should NOT freeze the minimum wage at $11 per hour at this time.
Essential workers are performing on the front lines across the state and are being praised for the critical services they’re providing in jobs like health care support, food delivery and food services, and in caregiving. They deserve our gratitude. They also deserve a raise! Don’t let Governor Hogan (whose veto of the $15 wage the General Assembly had to override) and the lobbyists from the Chamber of Commerce undercut the value and wages of these hard working folks, especially during this crisis and in the rebuilding phase that will follow.
Please sign and share the petition today. The BPW meets this Wednesday, May 20. Let's show them that Marylanders everywhere support increasing the minimum wage.
Progressive Maryland COVID-19 Response
Unfortunately, we continue to see the number of cases and deaths in our state and region grow. Testing and contact tracing efforts are not anywhere near the level that public health experts think they should be. Despite the public health threats and conditions on the ground, the outbreak of the virus in processing plants on the Eastern Shore, and the warnings from Dr. Fauci and others about a potential spike in case this fall, Governor Hogan announced his decision to lift the stay at home directive and ease CDC guidelines. We think it’s too soon and we oppose his decision.
We are especially concerned about the health and safety of the most vulnerable people in the state and about the risk this action could pose to essential workers. Progressive Maryland has joined with community groups, labor unions, non-profits, immigrant and civil rights organizations, and others to send a letter expressing our disappointment with the Governor and our views on a better way to manage the public health crisis and the necessary steps to opening up parts of our economy.
Here's the letter. Many organizations have signed it; individuals can sign and send it too. https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1-xgH26RA3PO98ZKRu7GmP2tM9RqdruD1ExPAIz7LTYo/viewform?edit_requested=true
Please continue to stay at home except for essential travel and to maintain physical distancing in order to stop the spread of this virus. Cover your face and mouth when around others and wash your hands frequently. We remain very grateful to all who are serving on the front lines to deliver health care and to maintain vital services.
Like other calamities, the COVID-19 crisis is revealing many immediate and urgent needs and laying bare the inequities in our economy and society. That's why we are supporting mutual aid efforts for folks who need it, and are fighting even harder for a more just society, a people centered economy, and a better democracy. Here’s how you can help these efforts:
- Get involved today. If you haven’t already joined our campaign as a volunteer, click this link to get involved.
- Sign up for our weekly memo. You can also submit a blog post for the memo by contacting Woody at [email protected]. We are very interested in collecting stories about the impact of COVID-19 on individuals, workers and families. Get our weekly updates here.
COVID-19 Legislative Update
Along with our allies we’re monitoring the response to the emergency by all levels of government. We’re pushing for health and economic measures and action from our public officials that will directly aid families, workers, renters, low wealth and vulnerable residents.
On the local level, our meetings with County Executives and their staffs and with representatives from Baltimore have allowed us to raise urgent problems especially as they relate to testing and treatment, housing and food, worker protections, and the safety and treatment of the incarcerated. Some jurisdictions have already adopted and/or are considering strengthening safety nets and setting up economic, food and housing aid. Go to your County government website’s COVID-19 page to learn more about local programs in your area.
On the federal level, the HEROES Act passed in the U.S. House of Representatives on May 15. It’s the largest package of funding and aid to date and contains several good provisions particularly when it comes to funding levels for state and local governments. It does meet many urgent needs of communities and families, for the first time regardless of immigrant status. However, some provisions that progressives favored did not make it into the bill. We will provide analysis and updates on the Act’s prospects in the Senate in next week’s memo.
And join us for our weekly virtual organizing call this Thursday at 5:30 to learn more about the HEROES Act and about what’s happening on the federal, state, and local level when it comes to a range of health care issues.
On last week’s call we heard from Delegate Jazz Lewis and other community leaders about efforts to help those who are incarcerated or otherwise caught up in the criminal justice system. Tara Maxwell from our Justice Task Force talked about the need for decarceration. Please sign and share our Petition to Help Stop the Spread of COVID19 in State and County Jails.
We also heard from the Baltimore Harm Reduction Coalition about the vital organizing and service work they do with at-risk folks. Their group has a summit this week where you can learn more.
June 2 Primary:
Elections matter, especially this year. It’s never been more important to turn out the vote! Preserving our democracy and the integrity of the 2020 election is another Progressive Maryland priority. The state is moving to a vote by mail system for the June 2 primary (with some limited number of in person voting locations.) Learn more about the process here https://www.lwvmd.org/covid_19_and_the_upcoming_elections
Progressive Maryland is running phone banks every week to reach voters and inform them about the new system and about important local races on the ballot. You can join us-- it’s fun, rewarding and makes a difference!
If you’d like to learn more about Progressive Maryland’s COVID-19 mutual aid and organizing work please email Patty Snee at [email protected].
The housing crisis was already here. Then came COVID-19
Emergency rental assistance programs include:
Prince George’s County (temporarily suspended)
PROGRESSIVE MARYLAND – OUR CHAPTERS AROUND THE STATE
Meets June 4 -- more here
EVENTS FROM OUR PROGRESSIVE ALLIES
Monday, May 18 | 7:00 PM
Reel and Meal presents “Suppressed”
The Robert Greenwald documentary illustrates how voter suppression works to crush dissent and reform. Mckayla Wilkes, 5th C.D. candidate in the June 2 primary, is guest commentator after the film. R&M is a monthly film series at the New Deal Cafe in Greenbelt, MD but currently convening by Zoom.
Tuesday MAY 19 Global Green New Deal Webinar for people and planet. Join Arundhati Roy and Naomi Klein 11 AM – 12:30 PM. https://mailchi.mp/haymarketbooks/wt7stkhm8t-2030554?e=c7166b9426
Thursday MAY 21 Webinar on Universal Basic Income 4 PM with Del. Gabriel Acevero, Matt Breunig, Benjamin Orr register here
Saturday MAY 30 Reversing Global Warming: Introduction to Drawdown --10 AM-noon Via Zoom Meetings Registration is required at https://projectdrawdowndmv.eventbrite.com. Sponsors include PG Environmental Forum and College Park Committee for a Better Environment,
>>Baltimore progressives, Check in on the wide-ranging Baltimore Activist Alert calendar and tip sheet at http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/
Reading the Progressive Maryland BlogSpace: our recent blogs are shown below, but if you want a handy way to keep track – and never miss a blog post – you can sign up to get this Weekly Memo by email. Remember this is your blogspace and your participation is heartily invited. See something going on that you don’t like – or that you do like and hope to see more of? Send us your thoughts; submit to the moderator at [email protected]
We recently published these blog posts:
Find out how many prisoners are still endangered by COVID-19 and lax health policies in Maryland's prisons.
Progressive Maryland/Marylanders United explore the legislative aspects and concerns with a Prince George's delegate, examine the relationship with the long-standing opoid addiction that has plagued the state for years and hear from advocates across the state -- including some with relatives in the system -- about how far short the prison system is falling in protecting inmates and employees. Follow this link to catch up on yesterday's (Thursday, May 14) weekly statewide meeting: and plan to join us next Thursday for our next statewide meeting, a discussion of health care organizing in the urgent context of the COVID-19 emergency. Register here.
The danger the COVID-19 virus brings to those trapped in Maryland’s prisons is acute.
Please join our Marylanders United community later today as we gather again to talk about our statewide COVID-19 response work. The focus this afternoon at 5:30 is on our incarcerated population and what is being done -- and what more can be done to reduce the number of folks being detained in order to stop the spread of COVID19.
This week’s Progressive Maryland/Marylanders United statewide virtual planning meeting will be on the topic of criminal justice, incarceration and decarceration in – and after – the COVID-19 emergency. It will be set for 5:30-7 PM Thursday. Register and sign up here to join us. And read about our meeting last Thursday focused on the statewide housing emergency and steps to take control of it.
Progressive Maryland/Marylanders United, two sibling groups developing mutual aid networks and advocating state and local policy actions to meet the needs of working families during the coronavirus pandemic, held their fourth statewide virtual meeting Thursday, May 7.
Topping the agenda was an increasingly acute set of housing issues. Hear from Del. Jheanelle Wilkins and housing activists on what actions we demand, and see 50 Delegates' letter to the governor.
THIS AFTERNOON: Marylanders United Virtual Organizing Meeting –
Thursday, May 7 5:30-7:00PM -- Join us in our multi-issue campaign to emerge from this health emergency better, with more justice and equity.
"I love my high school and believe that I am getting a high-quality education. I wonder if more diverse demographics in my school would lead to less hate and intolerance. I wonder if we could have more courageous conversations. ... I have come to realize the idea that zip code shouldn’t determine the quality of education you get!"
>REMEMBER – these blog posts are frequently expressions of political opinion from our wide-ranging membership and circle of allies. They are not expressions of opinion by Progressive Maryland. Don’t be surprised if they sometimes vary in their political content. You might even disagree with them – a good reason to contribute a blog of your own. Send it to the moderator, Woody Woodruff, at [email protected].
>>Keeping up with the blogs is easier with the index. The blogs published in the PM BlogSpace from June 2015 through December 2016 are all available with descriptions and links here. You can follow blogs for 2017-18 starting from here