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: Mark Wolff, Jews United for Justice (JUFJ)
My name is Mark Wolff, I am a resident of Montgomery County, and I am a member of Jews United for Justice, a Maryland and DC organization advocating for progressive values and local change.
I want to thank District 15 Delegates Dumais, Fraser-Hildalgo, and Qi for cosponsoring this legislation that would allow workers in Maryland to earn an increased minimum wage. This bill will make life better for hundreds of thousands of working Marylanders.
We can do better in Maryland, where many of us are well compensated and live very comfortably while others who work hard do not share our prosperity. We can be a leader and show others that we can do better by people.
We have to do better. In Judaism, we have the concept of b’tzelem elohim, the belief that we are all made in the image of G-d. I am here today because providing and increased minimum wage is one more step toward treating each other that way.
I am recently retired and fortunate not to have worked for minimum wage since my college days. Nevertheless, the issue of raising the minimum wage is deeply personal. My entire family immigrated to America to escape Nazi Germany. Their early years in America were filled with economic insecurity. It was only when my father was able to secure a post in the Army during World War II that they were able to work themselves into a modest middle-class lifestyle.
Today there are hundreds of thousands of working Marylanders who suffer from economic anxiety and insecurity. It should not take a war effort such as my parents experienced, or working two or more jobs to prevent working Marylanders from falling into poverty. No Marylander should worry about their ability to pay rent, buy adequate and healthy food, or take proper care of their children and themselves.
A moderate graduated increase in the minimum wage from the current $10.10 to $15.00 in 2023 will go a long way to alleviate the personal toll lower wages inflict on our fellow Marylanders. It will likely reduce dependency on State and Federal programs. Along with the paid sick leave law passed last year, it will improve the health of Marylanders both directly and indirectly. Employers may argue that they cannot afford such increases but there is substantial evidence that modest wage increases are offset by other factors such as employee retention.
We can do better, and this bill is a start. I respectfully urge you to support HB166.