Can Raising the Maryland Minimum Wage Strengthen Job Growth?

by Cory McCray

Last week, I had the opportunity to be a part of a coalition of community leaders, business leaders, churches, and other progressive leaders whom are concerned about raising the Maryland minimum wage for working families. Currently Maryland minimum wage is $7.25/per hour which is roughly $15,000 for 40 hours times 52 weeks. Keep in mind that for tipped workers, the minimum wage is 50% of the full minimum wage ($3.63/per hour).

Interesting Points Learned During Coalition Meeting:

  • 19 States have minimum wages that are higher than $7.25/per hour
  • 7 States require that tipped workers be paid 100% of the minimum wage

My Thoughts:

First let me start by saying that I would have never had the opportunity to join Maryland’s middle class, if my employer didn’t see fit to pay his employees a living wage. This presented the opportunity to purchase a car, home, save money, and invest in my family’s future. The wage that a worker is paid is what drives economic success within our communities, schools, and churches.

Communities – when workers have more money in their pockets they spend more at the local grocers, gas stations, clothing retailers, and hardware stores. This drive in increase spending also drives for job creation. Workers when given the option of extra resources tend to invest in beatification of their interior and exterior of their home. This raises the pride and moral of their neighborhoods and neighbors.

 Schools – $7.25 and $10.60 is a large difference. This can decide whether a parent has to work two jobs or one job. This can decide whether a parent can walk their child to school and invest time or if that child has to walk themselves to school. This can decide whether a child after school has a parent to reinforce the work learned during the school day, or whether homework isn’t completed at all.

 Churches – with the deterioration of a workers wage, we find that one of the strongest institutions within urban communities faces their toughest challenges. We must remember that it was the religious communities that fought for equality, education, and strong neighborhoods. When the members/workers in the church community have more resources, it can only uplift the opportunities within the communities they serve.

I would like to leave you with two comments that have stuck in my mind this last week and I believe holds true on this subject.

“Politicians aren’t leaders, they are followers and they are going to have to hear their constituents’ roar in order to take bold action on something that should be easy to understand” – Baltimore City Community Activist

“I used to work at McDonald’s making minimum wage. You know what that means when someone pays you minimum wage? You know what your boss was trying to say? “Hey if I could pay you less, I would, but it’s against the law.” – Comedian Chris Rock

Corey McCray

Corey McCray

Cory McCray is a member of  IBEW Local 24 and a Delegate to the Metropolitan Baltimore Council AFL-CIO. He was a founder of the Young Trade Unionists in Baltimore and was deeply involved in the national AFL-CIO’s new programs to involve and learn from young union members.

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