Tuesday, November 26, 2013

LAST CALL: MoCo Council Votes on Minimum Wage Today // Leggett Seeks Changes As Numerous Advocacy Groups Arm Up

LAST CALL TO CONTACT MOCO COUNCILMEMBERS: The Montgomery County Council is due to vote today on whether to increase the minimum wage in the county and establish a regional standard with Prince George's and the District of Columbia. Specifically, Councilmembers Marc Elrich, Nancy Navarro and Valerie Ervin are proposing: 1) an $11.50 an hour minimum wage in Montgomery County, 2) that would be phased in by 2016, and 3) would be "indexed" to rise with increases in the cost of living. Last Friday we published a whip count indicating where the County Councilmembers and County Executive candidates stand on this, and we noted that the effort needs one additional vote to pass without weakening amendments.
EMAIL NOW TO SUPPORT AN $11.50/HOUR MINIMUM WAGE: You can email all nine Montgomery County Councilmembers and the office of the County Executive by sending a message to montgomerycounty@lockheedwelfare.com
Prince George's County Councilmembers are poised to pass a parallel $11.50 an hour wage rate this week, but not until Montgomery County acts on the effort. Please bear in mind that the $11.50 figure was established by a coalition of Councilmembers from MoCo, D.C. and Prince George's, and a deviation from that arrangement will throw unpredictability into the proposed regional minimum wage and potentially derail the effort. Below Maryland Juice provides numerous updates on the current state of play, including proposed alterations being suggested by County Executive Ike Leggett and action alerts from numerous advocacy groups.

JUICE #1: MOCO EXECUTIVE IKE LEGGETT PROPOSES $10.75 TO $11.10 MINIMUM WAGE, PHASED IN BY 2018 - County Executive Ike Leggett is calling a last-minute audible and trying to lower the proposed $11.50 an hour minimum wage proposal to somewhere between $10.75 and $11.10.  Last night he released a memo outlining an alternate minimum wage plan that deviates in significant ways from the Elrich-Ervin-Navarro $11.50/hour proposal:
$10.75 OR $11.10 MINIMUM WAGE RATE: Leggett's proposal purports to establish a minimum wage of $11.50 an hour or $1 over the state minimum wage -- whichever is lower. Leggett would also establish a floor of $10.75 an hour, which is the lower rate proposed by an amendment from Councilmember Hans Riemer. Given that the state is likely to consider a $10.10 minimum wage, it seems extremely unlikely that the MoCo wage will reach $11.50. The actual likely wage rate under this slightly convoluted plan is going to be between $10.75 and $11.10.  
FIVE YEAR PHASE-IN PERIOD UNTIL 2018: The Elrich-Ervin-Navarro plan would phase-in an $11.50/hour rate by the year 2016, while the Leggett plan would phase in a maximum rate of between $10.75 and $11.10 by 2018.
EXEMPTION FOR PART-TIME EMPLOYEES 18 AND UNDER: The Leggett plan would also exclude the new minimum wage requirement for part-time employees age 18 and under. This position was also adopted by the members of the County Council's Health and Human Services Committee. Interestingly, Councilmember Riemer's Chief of Staff Adam Pagnucco posted the following comment about this exemption on Facebook:
ADAM PAGNUCCO: I am extremely upset that Nancy Navarro and the rest of the HHS Committee voted to exclude all employees age 18 and under from the minimum wage.

JUICE #2: CASA DE MARYLAND ACTION ALERT ON MOCO MINIMUM WAGE - CASA de Maryland released the following action alerts and press releases on today's minimum wage vote:
CASA DE MARYLAND: We need your urgent participation. Please call now the office of Montgomery County Councilmember Hans Reimer and ask to vote YES for the minimum wage increase to $11.50 an hour.  To this moment, he has said that he would only increase it to $10.75 an hour. Please tell him that it would be unacceptable to vote for anything less than $11.50. 

His contact information is: 240-777-7964 /  councilmember.riemer@montgomerycountymd.gov PLEASE TAKE A MINUTE TO CONTACT HIM. We need his vote to pass this bill.

Also, we will be holding a rally with CASA de Maryland and allies tomorrow at 12noon at the Montgomery County Council. We will proceed to the hearing room at 1:30pm to witness the vote. PLEASE COME SUPPORT.  Flyer attached / CASA press statement below.

CASA de Maryland Urges Montgomery County Council to Increase the Minimum Wage to $11.50, Eliminate 90-Day Temporary Worker Restriction

"As we approach Tuesday’s vote in the Montgomery County Council to increase the minimum wage to $11.50 an hour by 2016, we remind people about the faces of low-wage workers who make our county move forward. Take the case of worker Wilfred Mokoko, he states:

For many years, I worked in a hotel making the minimum wage. At the start, the wages were fair, but as the cost of food, rent, electricity, and water increased I saw my wages were too low. Over the past few years here in Montgomery County, I have seen the Ride On Bus Fare increase from $1.20 to $1.35 to $1.70 and today it is $1.80. To many people these changes do not make a difference, but they matter to me. There are days I put $14 on my bus pass and I am shocked when it is empty before the end of the week. Some weeks, I spend more than $20 on bus transportation. Working people are suffering and we are looking to political leaders to bring relief to our community. If the cost of living rises then so must the wages that people need to survive.

"Increasing Wildfred’s hourly rate to $11.50 makes a significant difference to support his family. CASA de Maryland, the largest Latino and immigrant organization in the state, urges members of the Montgomery County Council to support the minimum wage increase to $11.50 an hour by 2016.

"At the same time, CASA strongly urges members of the County Council to eliminate the 90-Day provision that excludes temporary workers from obtaining the minimum wage increase. Day laborers and temporary/seasonal employees perform some of the most grueling work in the County and should not be paid less because of the short-term nature of their employment. All workers deserve to live in dignity and be able to afford to protect their families. No worker should be left behind."


JUICE #2: COALITION LETTER SUPPORTING $11.50 AN HOUR  - Several groups released the following letter to the County Council calling for an $11.50/hour wage, including SEIU Local 500, CASA, Jews United for Justice, MoCo Young Democrats, Progressive Maryland, Progressive Neighbors, and UFCW Local 400:

JUICE #3: PROGRESSIVE MARYLAND ACTION ALERT TARGETS RIEMER - Progressive Maryland released the following action alert on the minimum wage vote:
PROGRESSIVE MARYLAND: Riemer still waffling on $11.50 minimum wage with indexing, email now - Despite all the  calls and emails to Councilmember Hans Riemer's office in support of a $11.50 minimum wage in Montgomery County that is indexed to inflation, Councilmember Riemer has still not assured his constituents that he will vote in favor of Bill 27-13. This is shameful. At-Large Councilmember Hans Riemer needs to hear from you right now. Tell Riemer to raise the minimum wage to $11.50 per hour and to index it with the cost of living. Anything less will put workers in Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, and Washington, DC in jeopardy of not receiving the vital pay raise they are due.
Take 30 seconds to email Councilmember Hans Riemer right now. Let him know that you won't settle for anything less than $11.50 per hour with indexing. Make sure he knows that you won’t forget his vote at election time.

JUICE #4: JEWS UNITED FOR JUSTICE ACTION ALERT - Jews United for Justice released the following action alert on the minimum wage vote yesterday (excerpt below):
JEWS FOR JUSTICE: Call for a Higher Minimum Wage in Montgomery County, One more push to victory! - In the past two weeks more than sixty JUFJers have called Councilmember Hans Riemer asking him to support raising the minimum wage in the county to $11.50 by 2016. The pressure is starting to build - but we need to keep it up.

The bill passed out of committee on Thursday and will be voted on in the full Council on Tuesday, November 26th. Four Councilmembers have committed their support for the bill. We need to keep the pressure on to secure the fifth vote. The county is ready and our workers deserve a raise.

JUFJ and our allies will be keeping the phones ringing off the hooks in the County Council on Monday, November 25th to make sure this message is heard loud and clear.  

Please sign up to call At-Large Councilmember Hans Riemer at (240) 777-7964.

JUICE #5: MONTGOMERY COUNTY YOUNG DEMOCRATS PRESS RELEASE ON MINIMUM WAGE VOTE - The MoCo Young Dems released the following statement regarding the minimum wage vote:

Montgomery County Young Democrats Support $11.50 Minimum Wage Increase, Urge Council to Remove Youth and Temporary Worker Exemptions

Silver Spring, MD – The Montgomery County Young Democrats are urging the Montgomery County Council to vote favorably to increase the minimum wage to $11.50 an hour by 2016.

For member Gabriel Acevero, “The minimum wage is not just a story about income inequality, but rather it’s about achieving the American dream, and no one can achieve the American dream on $7.25 an hour.” Gabe is one of several members actively working on the state-wide campaign to raise the minimum wage, which the Young Democrats see as equally important to move the state forward economically and progressively as the County measure.

At the same time, MCYD is standing with organizations like CASA de Maryland in calling for the Council to eliminate the 90-Day provision that excludes temporary workers from obtaining the minimum wage increase. In addition, they are asking the County to remove the exemption for workers under 19 working less than 20 hours a week.

Board member Emily Shetty, who shared what raising the wage means personally to her at last Wednesday’s rally to raise the wage, states: “Above all, we want to see Bill 27-13 pass and change the lives of millions in the region when Prince George’s and DC pass similar bills. We do hope the Council will consider removing the temporary and youth workers exemptions. All workers in Montgomery County deserve the dignity of this higher wage.”


JUICE #6: BETHESDA-CHEVY CHASE CHAMBER ACTION ALERT ON MINIMUM WAGE VOTE - BethesdaNow.com reports that the BCC Chamber sent out the following action alert calling for a MoCo minimum wage of no more than $10.10/hour:
BCC CHAMBER: For the past several weeks, the B-CC Chamber has been working with other chambers and business groups in Montgomery County to persuade Council members to delay consideration of Council member Elrich’s bill that would set the minimum wage in Montgomery County at $11.50 an hour that would be phased in over three years, beginning in July 2014 and indexed to increase with the consumer price index in future years.  Based on a survey of businesses in the county, this increase is too much too fast and the indexing could result in a county minimum wage that is far higher than the state’s, unless the state legislature also passes a minimum wage tied to indexing.  Yesterday, the County Council HHS Committee voted (2-0) in favor of Elrich’s bill, this despite the fact that the proponents’ own economists told them that $11.50 is too high.  They did amend the bill to exempt teens age 18 and under working fewer than 20 hours per week and set the minimum wage for tipped employees at 50% of the County minimum wage. This bill will go to the full Council for a vote this Tuesday.  IT WILL PASS – possibly unanimously — unless the business community is able to persuade some Council members to make some changes that would make it less burdensome for employers.

LAST CALL: EMAIL NOW TO SUPPORT AN $11.50/HOUR MINIMUM WAGE: You can email all nine Montgomery County Councilmembers and the office of the County Executive by sending a message to montgomerycounty@lockheedwelfare.com

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