Supporters are calling for $15 per hour.
Frederick, Md (KM) A hearing is scheduled for Friday, February 8th before the House of Delegates Labor and Employment Committee on legislation to raise the minimum wage from $10.10 to $15.00 per hour. Rick Weldon, the President and CEO of the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce, is urging the organization’s more than 100 members to contact their delegates and state senators and let them know how they feel.
Weldon says minimum wage workers are not just high school graduates who are looking for their first full time job, or college students working part time to pay their expenses. There are adults with minimum wage jobs. “And we’ve got a lot of situations where we have people that are living independently. They’re not young kids living in their parents house, but living independently that are working one, two or in some cases three minimum wage jobs to make enough money to pull it all together,” he says.
And this makes the minimum wage issue very complex. “We need to have a conversation in Maryland about who makes the minimum wage before we just across-the-board increase it. It has a terrifying, detrimental affect to food service businesses, hospitality businesses, small retail business,” says Weldon.
If this legislation passes, it would mean that a teenager just starting out as an employee, either full or part time, would be earning the same pay as older workers living on their own. Perhaps, says Weldon, only the more experienced workers should get that raise. . “But maybe we could say that people who have a lower wage job that live independently and have obligations. Maybe we need to look at that. That would be a lot smarter than just an across-the-board increase in the minimum wage to $15.00,” he says.
Weldon also noted that many businesses have been automating some of their operations for years, and that trend could continue if the minimum wage keeps on going up. “Everyone of those situations has replaced a minimum wage worker,” he says. “Is that really what the advocates for an across-the-board minimum wage want? Do they want to see jobs replaced by a self checkout or an ordering kiosk? I don’t think so.”
The hearing on this minimum wage bill is scheduled to begin at 12:30 PM. A similar bill in the Maryland Senate will be heard on February 21st.
By Kevin McManus