The Economic Justice team is the first of our two statewide legislative campaign teams, seeking to protect working people, their families, and all of our communities by stopping the mistreatment of poor and working people and eliminating decades of structurally reproduced poverty. This session, the Economic Justice team will be advocating on behalf of three main legislative goals:
EARNED SICK AND SAFE LEAVE
Be careful not to afflict any living creature, whether animal or bird, and all the more so, one should not afflict a person, created in the image of the Divine. If you want to hire laborers and you find that they are poor, they should be [regarded as] the poor members of your household, for you were commanded to have a respectful manner with them and to pay their wages. – Sefer HaYirah, Rabbeinu Yonah
750,000 hard-working employees in Maryland have no access to earned paid sick days. Maryland law does not ensure job protection, so a worker can be fired for taking a sick day. In 2015, JUFJ helped lead efforts to pass earned sick and safe leave in Montgomery County. The Healthy Working Families Act (HB1) will provide those same protections to workers across Maryland.
After a 5-year campaign, HB1 passed the Maryland state legislature with veto-proof majorities in April 2017, only to be vetoed by Governor Hogan. The Working Matters coalition is working to override the Governor’s veto in January 2018. If (when!) they override the veto, the coalition will focus on sick leave education and enforcement in order to make sure workers can really access the leave the law grants them.
RENT COURT REFORM
One who rents a house to another is obligated to construct doors and to fix broken windows, to reinforce the ceiling and to fix broken beams, and to provide a bolt and a lock and similar things which are produced by skilled craftspeople and which are essential to living in a house. – Rambam, Sefer Mishpatim, Sechirut (Laws of Rental) 6:3
Studies conducted by JUFJ in partnership with Public Justice Center (PJC) and Right to Housing Alliance (RTHA), along with investigative reporting from the Baltimore Sun, show that Rent Court is heavily weighted in favor of landlords at the expense of tenants. This imbalance threatens renters from around Maryland, and especially targets working-class communities of color in Baltimore city.
In the 2016 General Assembly session, a comprehensive Rent Court reform bill was introduced and recommended to summer study. Tenants, landlords, and the judiciary contributed to a compromise bill that passed the House of Delegates and would have provided tenants with 4 days’ notice before their trial date, allowed lead certificate status to affect the outcome of a trial, and implemented other necessary protections for tenants facing eviction. Because the bill did not pass the Senate, JUFJ and our coalition partners are working on introducing a similar Rent Court Reform bill in 2018 along with bills related to water affordability and preventing people losing rented or owned homes due to water bills.
Read more in the Baltimore Sun: Dismissed
$15 MINIMUM WAGE
You shall not abuse a needy and destitute worker, whether your kin or a stranger in one of the communities of your land. You must pay them their wages on the same day, before the sun sets, for they are needy and urgently depend on it. – Deuteronomy 24:14-15
At least 907,755 Maryland workers earn less than $15 per hour (33.1% of workers), and not a single Maryland county is affordable to live in at that income level. More than half of African-American workers, nearly 60% of Latinx workers, and almost half of women workers earn under $15 per hour.
Richard Madaleno, State Senator from Montgomery County District 18 who is also running for Governor of Maryland, has reintroduced a bill that would raise the state’s wage floor to $15 by 2022 for businesses employing 26 or more workers, by 2023 for smaller businesses, and by 2024 for tipped workers.
JUFJ was a leader for a successful campaign in 2013 to raise the minimum wage to $11.50 in Montgomery County and in 2014 to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 in the state of Maryland. Recently, we supported $15 minimum wage bills in Baltimore City and Montgomery County that were both passed by local legislators, but stopped by a veto. In Montgomery County, a $15 minimum wage bill was finally passed in November 2017.
There are no upcoming events at this time.