BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore City Council votes to increase the minimum wage to $15 dollars an hour, but the ‘Fight for Fifteen’ is not over.
Even though this bill has overwhelming support in City Council, it’s now out of their hands. And right now, it’s not clear if the mayor will sign the bill or reject it.
For months, there’s been an aggressive push and now with a wave of new council members, veterans finally have the votes to pass the fifteen dollar minimum wage bill.
“It means some justice for the working people who have worked so hard to build this city and can’t earn enough at their jobs to make ends meet,” says Baltimore City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke.
Minimum wage in Baltimore will go up to $10.10 by 2018 under state law. But the city wants to go a step further to $15 dollars by 2022.
Businesses with fewer than 50 workers would have two extra years to make the change.
“We’ve made some gains, some progress, but we still have a long way to go,” says Denise Williams with Maryland Working Families.
But there is strong opposition to this bill, some say it’s bad for business.
“Having our labor cost increase and be 50 percent more than they are in the county will cause those restaurants and those businesses to increase their cost,” says Councilman Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer.
At Fell’s Point Creamery, the owner says he’d have to make changes if the law takes effect.
“The only solution I have is just cutting off some employees. I cannot hire as much employees which I had before,” says Essayas Habte, with Fell’s Point Creamery.
Councilman Leon Pinkett does not support a $15 dollar minimum wage and says there’s a better solution.
“I think where our energies can be best served, is creating an environment where people are employed and they have the skills to be employed. If we do that, they won’t have to rely on minimum wage, they can earn their maximum wage,” says Councilman Pinkett.
A spokesperson for the mayor said she’s been a solid supporter of increasing the minimum wage and that her decision will be based on what’s best for the city.
On Monday evening, Mayor Pugh’s spokesman Anthony McCarthy released the following statement:
“Mayor Catherine Pugh has been a solid supporter and advocate of the minimum wage increase throughout her political career and was one of the strongest voices for working families in Annapolis as a legislator.
“Mayor Pugh will make her decision based on what she believes is in the best interests of Baltimore residents, not what is the most popular decision or most expedient.
“As mayor, she has to take into account the fiscal impact of this increase on the city’s budget along with its growing commitment to the DOJ Consent Decree, a larger three-year financial contribution to the public school system and managing soaring overtime costs in the police department. Now that the legislation has passed, she will make a final determination.”
The mayor has 30 days to make her decision. If this bill becomes law, it would only apply to workers over 21 years old.