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November 20, 2013 Montgomery County Council 100 Maryland Avenue Rockville, MD 20850 Dear County Council: We are writing

to endorse the Montgomery County Minimum Wage Bill 27-13 with a few critical amendments. Increasing the minimum wage in Montgomery County would be beneficial to all stakeholders in Montgomery County and would be a step towards making Montgomery County workers self-sufficient, without relying on public or other types of aid to subsidize their income in order to cover basic needs. The new County minimum wage bill, however, should also benefit tipped workers, should provide more protections for temporary and permanent workers and should eliminate the employer health care credit. Wealth inequality is staggering in Montgomery County. The county, included among the nation’s ten most affluent counties, is the picture of prosperity accompanied by a high cost of living. Yet the county’s minimum wage remains at the federal limit of $7.25 per hour. A full-time job at this wage pays just $15,000 a year, leaving a family of three below the poverty line. If the minimum wage had kept pace with inflation since 1968 when it was $1.60 an hour, today’s minimum wage would be $10.74 an hour. Montgomery County has a special place within Maryland and within the country. The minimum for families and individuals to earn to be self-sufficient is much higher than other parts of the nation. Raising the county minimum wage is a powerful anti-poverty measure because it allows workers to lift themselves out of poverty without extra government spending. Low wages leave workers in a cycle of needing government benefits. Increasing the minimum wage to $11.50 in three steps by 2016 will not only reduce reliance on a cycle of safety-net benefits, but it will create a true sense of self-sufficiency for workers and their families. We support the bill to raise the county minimum wage but we believe that it needs to be amended to better protect workers. Reducing an employee’s base pay to credit employer sponsored health care credits will undermine the very workers this law is designed to help. We support the minimum wage increase with an amended provision to the bill that would eliminate the employer health credit. In addition, the bill should address tipped workers and increase the tipped minimum wage to 70% of the new county minimum wage. Furthermore, there should be safeguards against employer abuse of temporary workers to avoid paying current minimum wage. The grace period incentivizes employers to use temporary workers for 90 days or less because it’s cheaper to fire employees who earn less than the County minimum wage than to keep an employee for more than 90 days, offer permanent employment and pay more. For these reasons we ask the Committee to pass this law increasing Montgomery County’s minimum wage to $11.50 by 2016 with amendments to include tipped employees, safeguard against abuse of temporary workers and to remove the health care credit to employers, thereby reducing Montgomery County workers’ base pay.

Sincerely, Kim Propeack Political Director CASA de Maryland Jacob Feinspan Executive Director Jews United for Justice Dave Kunes President Montgomery County Young Democrats Kathleen "Kate" Planco Waybright Executive Director Progressive Maryland Wally Malakoff Co-Chair Progressive Neighbors Mark J. McLaurin Political Director Service Employees International Union (S.E.I.U.) Local 500 Craig G. Simpson Executive Director United Food & Commercial Workers Local 400