BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Hundreds rallied in Maryland’s capital to push for an increase to the minimum wage statewide by the year 2023.
It’s a push that doesn’t come without some controversy. Eighteen states and Washington, D.C. have plans in place to increase their minimum wage to $15. Montgomery County also joins that list. A push to pass a law in Baltimore was vetoed by Mayor Catherine Pugh.
The minimum wage in Maryland is slated to go up to $10.10 staring July 1st.
Monday marked the official kickoff of the “Fight for $15” campaign in Annapolis — a meeting so large some couldn’t even get in. They came from near and far — people who were fittingly ready to rally this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day — prepared to fight over a statewide minimum wage increase.
“We’re all struggling to make it,” one woman told WJZ’s George Solis. “We’re drowning, we’re in the struggle.”
Many said they are counting on the measure to pass this legislative session.
The launch of the campaign has already gathered support from some state leaders.
“I think the stars are aligned this year to get this bill through and on the governor’s desk,” Maryland Sen. Rich Madaleno said.
[Reporter: Is this something that you’re really passionate about?]
“Oh, absolutely. It is tremendous to be here among people whose lives it will really affect,” Maryland Del. Shelly Hettleman said.
For some, increasing the minimum wage to $15 isn’t just about a lavish lifestyle, it’s about survival.
“This is for people to be able to pay for health care, for food for transportation, for lodging. This is money that people need for their lives,” Laura Wallace of “Fight for $15” said.
For some small business owners, no matter how much they’d like to pay their employees more, they say it’s just not feasible.
“There would be no such thing as an overtime, we would have to cut hours and cut people,” Michael Beckner of Brick Oven Pizza said.
It would also potentially create a whole new slew of problems among staff.
“You start someone out at $15, those you already have are going to want more than that,” Beckner said.