In #TestimonyTuesday, Baltimore, MD, Fight For $15, Maryland State, Montgomery County, MD

TESTIMONY IN SUPPORT OF HB166

Payment of Wages – Minimum Wage and Enforcement (Fight for Fifteen)

TO:  Hon. Dereck Davis, Chair, and members of the Economic Matters Committee

FROM:  Dana Lande, CEO, Dayna Designs

My name is Dana Lande and I am a homeowner and small business owner in Rockville. I am also a member of Jews United for Justice, an organization with 5,000 members in Maryland working for social, racial, and economic justice. I am testifying today in favor of HB166, to raise the minimum wage in Maryland to $15 per hour and subsequently index it to the rate of inflation.

I started my design and manufacturing import business fourteen years ago. The market I serve is mainly licensed collegiate merchandise. Over the past 15 years, universities have focused on supply chain fair labor compliance and transparency. I must comply with their fair labor standards and corporate social responsibility requirements.

Though this is an added expense, I know it is the right thing to do.

My business is held to a higher standard than I might institute on my own. I must pay a third party to audit my factories, both in the US and outside the country. I must follow all Federal and State standards for labor and unemployment, and I must maintain high levels of insurance. These systems are not perfect, but they are moving my company and many others in the right direction. Although my costs are increased by these requirements, I have established a better, more sustainable business model as a result.

I know from my experience as a small business owner that businesses can raise the minimum wage for their lowest paid workers in Maryland. It is clear that workers need a higher wage in order to take care of themselves and their families in our state. And it is also clear that business people everywhere are resourceful — we find ways to make money even when expenses increase. Of course, as with all change, some businesses will face difficulties. But I know that my business can plan over time to budget for higher wages. We already do so with our salaried employees: they expect and receive annual raises.  We should not refuse our most vulnerable workers an indexed increase.

When I weigh all the factors, I am confident that even very small businesses like mine can implement a $15 minimum wage phased in over multiple years. The bill we successfully passed in Montgomery County last year is a great start, and now we need to raise wages statewide.

Thank you for taking the time to consider this important matter that affects so many people in our state. I hope that we in Maryland can be a model for other states so that our poorest workers gain a foothold toward a better future for themselves and their families.

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