For Immediate Release: May 5, 2014
Contact: Stacey Mink, 410-790-9913
Gov. O’Malley Signs $10.10 Minimum Wage Bill Into Law
Increased wages will benefit hundreds of thousands of workers, bolster businesses statewide
Raise Maryland successfully moved lawmakers, grassroots in two-year campaign for higher wages
ANNAPOLIS – Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed legislation today to raise the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 per hour by 2018. In a year where several state legislatures have raised their state’s minimum wage in the absence of federal action, Maryland was the second state to raise their rate to $10.10, currently the highest rate in the country. This is the first time that a state minimum wage bill has been enacted since 2006.
The bill that Gov. O’Malley signed today will raise the wage from the current $7.25 an hour to $8.00 in January 1, 2015, and rise again to $8.25 on July 1, 2015. Workers will get subsequent raises to $8.75 on July 1, 2016 and $9.25 on July 1, 2017. The full-phase in to $10.10 will take place on July 1, 2018.
“Today’s bill signing is an important step toward addressing income inequality in our state,” said Ricarra Jones, chair of Raise Maryland, the coalition that worked to pass the bill. “Hundreds of thousands of Maryland workers will get a well-deserved raise that reflects the true value of their work.”
A diverse coalition of community, labor, immigrant, civil rights and faith organizations, Raise Maryland is a Maryland Working Families campaign, founded in January 2013 by bringing together organizations and individuals united to pass a statewide minimum wage increase.
U.S. Rep. John Delaney said, “Raising the minimum wage is the right thing to do and Marylanders should be proud of our state today. Raise Maryland played a leading role in leading the grassroots effort and I was honored to partner with them on the campaign. I was one of the first statewide or federal officials in Maryland to prioritize this issue, because I felt deeply that no Marylander who works full time should live in poverty. I was happy to support Raise Maryland’s digital efforts, because policy debates and campaigns are now won or lost online. Workers’ rights advocates, businesspeople, faith leaders, and other groups were all united in this effort, which is going to improve the lives of thousands of our friends and neighbors. As a former entrepreneur and CEO, I understand that raising the minimum wage can also help businesses by increasing productivity, reducing turnover, and increasing consumer demand.
Research from the nonpartisan Economic Policy Institute found that hundreds of thousands of Marylanders will benefit from the increase, putting hundreds of millions more in their pockets in the next two years. At the same time, businesses would benefit from up to half a billion dollars in new consumer spending and would create more than 1,000 new full-time jobs as they expand to meet increased demand.
A wage of $10.10 puts Maryland among the highest minimum wage rates in the country and mirrors the current federal proposal proposed by President Barack Obama. Delaware’s minimum wage will rise to $8.25 by June 2015, the governor of West Virginia signed a bill to raise the state’s wage from $7.25 to $8.75 by 2016, Connecticut’s legislature recently enacted a $10.10 minimum wage by 2017, Hawaii will increase the state’s lowest wage to $10.10 by 2018, Minnesota will go to $9.50 by 2016 and the Vermont legislature is considering an increase to as high as $10.50. A deal is pending in Seattle to raise the wage to $15 gradually.
Maryland Working Families built the massive Raise Maryland campaign that included more than 60 organizations united to raise the wage. The coalition included 1199SEIU, 32BJ, BRIDGE Maryland, CASA de Maryland, Communities United, Jews United for Justice, NAACP, UFCW 400, Unite HERE Local 7, Moving Maryland Forward Network and many others, along with grassroots support from national groups including Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, Moms Rising, Organizing for America and Progressive Change Campaign Committee. The coalition also benefited from the generous financial support from Rep. John Delaney to bolster the campaign’s social media work.
A full-time canvass knocked on more than 40,000 doors, gathered 8,000 personal letters from voters and generated more than 25,000 petition signatures, not to mention countless phone calls and emails to legislators. Grassroots activity was complemented by a vigorous social media presence, overwhelmingly positive polling, support from more than 180 businesses statewide, several high profile events with state and federal elected officials that generated positive media coverage, radio ads and a steady drumbeat of support in the media for a higher wage.
Key provisions of the Maryland Minimum Wage Act of 2014 were stripped out or changed during consideration of the bill. The phase-in date was moved from July 1, 2016 to July 1, 2018. A proposal to index the minimum wage so that it would rise during to keep pace with the cost of living was amended out of the bill. Wages for tipped workers were frozen by the House at $3.63 per hour, a measure sought by the restaurant industry. Advocates beat back a broad training wage proposal but a narrower measure has been established, allowing employers to pay workers 19 and under a subminimum wage of 85 percent of the minimum wage for the first six months of employment. Restaurants with a gross income of $400,000 are exempted from the higher rate, up from the previous amount of $250,000. Finally, an exemption for amusement parks like Six Flags that adjoins Del. Dereck Davis’ district will permit employers to pay workers 85 percent of the state minimum wage.
Other weakening proposals were beat back either in committee or on the floor of the chambers by minimum wage champions, backed by lobbying and grassroots support from the Raise Maryland coalition. A proposed two-tier system to create different minimum wage rates for different parts of the state failed to get support. An effort to move the phase-in date out to 2019 also failed.
Raise Maryland is a diverse coalition of community, labor, immigrant, civil rights and faith organizations united to pass a statewide minimum wage increase indexed to inflation.