Our new minimum wage

On Tuesday, November 26, the Montgomery County Council came together around a proposal to significantly raise the minimum wage. I am proud that I helped deliver an 8-1 council vote for this hugely important progressive priority.

Six Facts About the Bill

1. Montgomery County’s minimum wage will be among the highest — if not the highest — in the nation.

2. The county’s minimum wage will rise from $7.25 to $11.50 in four years, a 59% increase.

3. Montgomery County acted first. D.C. and Prince George’s County must follow.

4. The original bill exempted the county government from paying its own minimum. At full council, we fixed that.

5. The original bill allowed a lower wage for short-term workers. I pushed the council to give them the same wage as everyone else, and we did.

6. The original bill allowed employers to cut their wages to offset health care payments. The council fixed that issue.

Our new local minimum wage will rise from $7.25 to $11.50 by 2017. It will be among the highest local minimum wages in the U.S., which is appropriate for one of the most expensive places to live.

We hope that Prince George’s County and the District of Columbia will follow our lead by passing a similar law; and that the Maryland General Assembly will raise the state minimum wage.

I worked hard to strengthen the county proposal. My work fighting to protect Social Security taught me that the broadest policies have the best impact, and so I also opposed provisions of the county minimum wage that excluded young people under 18, and I opposed provisions to exclude short term workers / day laborers.

I lost my fight to keep young people (age 18 and under) protected by the minimum wage when every single one of my colleagues voted against me. But the council did protect short-term employees and day laborers. They will now have the same minimum wage as every other county worker, just like they deserve. A policy like a minimum wage is too important to leave our most vulnerable workers behind.

Add our new rising minimum wage to a rising EITC payment, secured by my legislation that also passed the County Council unanimously a few weeks ago, and we are making real progress on behalf of the least among us.

I hope you are as happy as I am to make such a significant stride forward for our low wage workers.

I’ve always advocated for raising the minimum wage, and the results speak for themselves. We won. Big.