Sign the petition: pass a strong $15 minimum wage

Montgomery County is one of the most expensive communities in the country. The hourly self-sufficiency wage for a single individual is $17.90 per hour. Over half of Montgomery County renters are cost-burdened and over one-third of MCPS students receive free or subsidized meals.

Too many in our community are forced to choose between rent, medicine or groceries at the end of the month. And too many low wage earners are stuck endlessly working hourly jobs for poverty wages, without the time or resources to access opportunities that would help them advance economically. As a result, the gap between the top 1% of earners in our county and remaining 99% is 20:1. In an economy increasingly dependent on consumer spending, that widening gap is both an urgent social justice and economic development concern.

That’s why I was disappointed when my councilmember, Sidney Katz, voted against a $15 minimum wage last January -- and it’s a major reason I decided to challenge him in next June’s primary.

Now, I -- and many other constituents -- remain disappointed that Councilmember Katz has not endorsed the latest $15 wage proposal before the Council. We’re also concerned that an amended bill passed by the Health and Human Services Committee, requiring most county workers to wait seven years to be covered by a $15 minimum wage, will be embraced as an alternative by its detractors.

The fact is that the HHS Committee's proposal is no alternative at all. The dollar has decreased in value by nearly 12% over the last seven years. Working families piecing together a living on multiple incomes don’t have seven years to wait for a minimum wage that is certain to fall far short of the self-sufficiency threshold for our community.

Of course, a $15 minimum wage is not a cure-all for the affordability crisis facing county residents. Increasing our affordable housing supply, working toward debt-free Montgomery College, implementing universal pre-K, and boosting our vocational education offerings are just a few of the additional, necessary interventions. But phasing in a $15 wage floor for Montgomery County workers by 2022 is an important first step.

That’s why our campaign has launched a petition respectfully urging Councilmember Katz to support Bill 28-17, as it was introduced. By doing so he can provide the veto-proof majority necessary to ensure that this much-needed proposal becomes law.

Working families in Montgomery County deserve no less.

 

Ben Shnider