(SILVER SPRING, MD) — The Steering Committee of the Montgomery County Democratic Socialists of America released the following statement today: “While we are pleased to see that the statewide minimum wage for most Maryland workers will likely increase soon, we are dismayed with the exemptions and delays contained in the bills passed by both houses of the Maryland General Assembly.
The Economic Policy Institute’s Family Budget Calculator determines that a single adult in Montgomery County needs to be paid at least $25.67/hour to afford housing, food, health care, transportation, and other basic needs. A family of two adults and two children needs to earn a combined wage of at least $50.22/hour. Yet, our Governor and General Assembly seem content to allow numerous Marylanders to live in poverty while their employers profit off of their underpaid labor.
The version of the bill passed by the House of Delegates won’t fully implement a $15/hour minimum wage until 2025, and the Senate version won’t fully implement $15/hour for smaller businesses, which make up the majority of Maryland companies, until 2028. Both versions will exempt increasing the minimum wage of tipped workers and agricultural workers — allowing restaurants, for instance, to pay tipped workers as little as $3.63/hour. Therefore, many Maryland workers wouldn’t be paid $15/hour for nine more years, and many others wouldn’t see their wages increase at all.
Perhaps most egregiously, the General Assembly stripped provisions from the original bill that tied the minimum wage to inflation, so that it would automatically increase as the costs of food, housing, and other necessities increase. By not indexing the minimum wage to inflation, the General Assembly has ensured that working-class Marylanders will be forced to fight this same battle again and again as the value of $15 decreases with inflation.
Governor Larry Hogan says he will only support raising the minimum wage to $12.10/hour, and only if our state’s neighbors also increase their minimum wages. When the costs of food and rent and consumer goods increase but workers’ wages do not, the capitalist class is earning more money but is not passing any of its increased profits on to workers. So when we delay increasing the minimum wage for years, this means we are transferring a staggering amount of wealth from workers to the capitalist class.
“We call upon the Maryland General Assembly and the Governor to sign into law a moral minimum wage — one that will increase as inflation increases, and one that pays all workers in Maryland the wages they need to provide housing, food, transportation, child care, and their families’ other basic needs.”