BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Nearly doubling Baltimore’s minimum wage by 2020. A Baltimore City councilwoman continues pushing her controversial proposal to do just that.
Supporters believe it will boost Baltimore’s economic growth, but some small businesses tell WJZ they are concerned it would do the complete opposite.
“Fight for $15” is a proposal aiming to uplift Baltimore. Close to 100,000 workers in Baltimore would be impacted by the wage increase.
Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke is leading the charge.
“To bring people together in the ways that matter, in the ways of self-sufficiency and independence,” said Clarke.
Baltimore’s minimum wage is currently $8.25. The goal is to gradually increase it to $15 by 2020.
“Fifteen dollars an hour means work one job, more quality time with the kids and the opportunity to go back to school,” one woman said.
Some small business owners fear that if the proposal goes through, they may have to fire half their staff or close their doors permanently.
“It would have a major impact on small businesses like ours. We are fighting it,” said Mouhcine Benkarafa, the owner of Twist Restaurant in Fells Point.
Benkarafa tells WJZ he is joining hundreds of other small businesses across Baltimore to make sure the proposal doesn’t pass.
“Who is going to foot the bill? You can’t pass all of that onto the customer,” said Bob Simko, Max’s Restaurant.
Many employers are concerned they won’t be able to afford the increase, and that in the end, it may just drive customers and businesses out of the city.
“I don’t think we have the chance to stay in business if it goes through,” said Benkharafa.
The Labor Committee is planning more research hearings before making a final decision on the proposal.
Other cities that have raised the minimum wage to $15 include Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York.