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Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich Joined by State and Local Officials to Celebrate Latest Minimum Wage Increase for Montgomery County on July 1

For Immediate Release: Thursday, July 1, 2021

County Executive Marc Elrich was joined by State and local officials, along with workers and community leaders, at the Wheaton Community Recreation Center to celebrate the increase of the minimum wage that went into effect in Montgomery County on Thursday, July 1.

Sponsored by then-County Councilmember Marc Elrich and signed into law on Nov. 17, 2017, Bill 28-17 raises the minimum wage incrementally, each July 1, reaching $15 per hour for large employers this year.

“I was proud to champion the increase in minimum wage when I was a County Councilmember and pleased to see that it has finally reached $15 per hour for large employers,” said Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich. “Montgomery County has been at the forefront of minimum wage policies and this increase will not just help those earning minimum wages but will also increase wages for all hourly workers throughout the County. People who work deserve to earn a decent wage. This will help them earn enough to put a roof over their heads, feed their families and not have to choose between putting food on the table and medical visits. A decent wage is the path to more opportunity and improved equity.”

“I’m excited that thousands of workers will receive a raise now that the County minimum wage has finally hit $15 an hour for large employers,” Council President Tom Hucker said. “I’m proud to have sponsored the amendment to override the veto and enact this law. The increase will provide some measure of relief to thousands of our low-income residents at a time when so many families are suffering economically. Much of the extra money they’ll get in their paychecks will go right back into the local economy, which means a stronger community for everyone.”

“This milestone is a critical next step in ensuring that everyone in our community is paid a fair wage,” said Council Vice President Gabe Albornoz. “This is important for equity, our social safety net, and our economy. While more must be done to ensure economic vitality, this living wage will help support families and our entire community.”

“Today is a great day for our front line and essential workers,” Montgomery County Councilmember Evan Glass said. “Every person should be treated with dignity and receive a respectable wage for the work they do. With the raising of the minimum wage to $15 for large employers, some residents won’t have to make the tough decision about whether to put food on their table or pay their utility bill. It will mean that some parents won’t have to work a second job to support their families, as mine did. But it also means that our work continues to create more fair and equitable workplaces for everyone.”

“Today is a good day for the thousands of Montgomery County workers who earn minimum wage and live paycheck to paycheck,” said Councilmember Will Jawando. “This is coming at a time that the needs are urgent. We must be focused on an equitable recovery- and an increase to the minimum wage is an important step of many we must take to ensure that our residents can earn a living wage.”

“Montgomery County has a proud history of standing up for the rights of working people. During my 2013 Council presidency, I was proud to expand these efforts by working with then-Councilmember Elrich and representatives from neighboring jurisdictions to approve a minimum wage increase that benefits working people, particularly those in our historically excluded BIPOC communities,” said Councilmember Nancy Navarro. “In 2017, the Montgomery County Council enacted a second measure which put us on track toward a $15 living wage, which will help lift up families and establish a foundation for a better economic future. In Montgomery County, we understand that when working people are paid fair wages it helps create a more prosperous and equitable society.”

“As our County climbs out of the pandemic, increasing the minimum wage will most certainly help in having our residents attain greater economic stability,” said Councilmember Craig Rice. “We also know that it’s one tool in our toolbox, and we need to continue our efforts to ensure that those who are unemployed have the resources and ability to attain work as well.  A rising tide lifts all boats, and our county must work on all fronts to ensure educational, vocational and financial opportunities for everyone to succeed.”

“I was proud to work with my colleagues to advance a strong minimum wage law at the County level,” said Councilmember Hans Riemer. “Now that the state has passed a $15 minimum wage as well, we need Congress to step up and ensure that every worker in America is paid a fair wage for their work.”

The number of workers employed by the business determines the amount of the increase. In 2021 the County’s minimum wage will rise to $15 for employers with 51 or more employees and $14 for employers with 50 or fewer employees; a small employer, with 10 or fewer employees, is required to pay $13.50 hourly. See informational notice here.

“This is the floor; this is not the ceiling. Now it becomes our responsibility at the Office of Human Rights to ensure enforcement,” said Montgomery County Office of Human Rights Director James Stowe. “Our first obligation is to get compliance. That’s our objective. We will be working with employers and employees in that regard, and make sure that we are all marching to the same step for every employer in Montgomery County, ensuring employees get a fair wage.”

“Today we recognize this achievement was only made possible by the tireless efforts of local labor unions, community organizations, and our champions on the county council,” said Dyana Forester, president of the Washington Metro Labor Council. “Together, we helped to raise the wage floor for all working families in the wealthiest county in Maryland. While we have much more work to do, we are proud to see this day has come and look forward to Montgomery County continuing to lead the region with progressive policies to do right by working families.”

“Essential low-wage workers doing the thankless, but vital jobs are now better able to support themselves and their families,” said Jaime Contreras, vice president of 32BJ SEIU, “Not only is the County helping to lift communities out of poverty and improve lives, but also enabling working families to better support local businesses, boost our economy and alleviate overburdened state and federal programs. The ripple effect cannot be underestimated, and jurisdictions nationwide, including Congress would be wise to follow the County’s responsible example. By ensuring livable wages for a mostly Black and Brown workforce, the County will also aid our region’s recovery, while taking a step towards tackling extreme racial inequities in health and wealth among communities infected by COVID-19 at devastating rates and bearing a greater burden of the pandemic’s economic fallout.”

“Today’s implementation of a $15 minimum wage represents a step forward for the working people of Montgomery County” said Pia Morrison, president of SEIU Local 500, which represents approximately 20,000 working people in our area. “While today we celebrate this milestone, we must also remember the work that remains to be done to combat extreme wealth and income inequality here and across the country.”

“1199SEIU is proud to stand with the advocates, organizers, and elected officials who worked hard to make this day a reality for so many of our frontline caregivers who have been dedicated to providing quality care for our community’s most vulnerable in long term care facilities throughout the county,” said Djawa Hall, Political Coordinator, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers. “Some workers suffered through illness or even lost their lives during the pandemic without receiving any hazard pay or just compensation for their efforts. This raising of the minimum wage is certainly a moment that has been a long time coming for these heroes - and we look forward to a future where true livable wage is something every worker afforded.”

“So many of the very workers that we depended on during the pandemic earn wages that are insufficient to meet their basic needs,” said UFCW Local 1994 President Gino Renne. "All working people should be able to pay their rent, afford transportation, and put a decent meal on the table. This increase will give our working women and men and their children a chance for entry into our shrinking middle class.  As a union that is committed to improving the lives of all working families, we are proud to have played a part in this historic step forward.”

“We are proud to have played a role in championing a historic $15 minimum wage for working families in Montgomery County,” said Mark Federici, president of UFCW Local 400. “More than 100,000 workers, many of whom we now rightly recognize as essential workers due to the pandemic, benefitted from this historic legislation. We look forward to the county’s continued and much-needed leadership in the future.”

"Raising the minimum wage will boost consumer spending and help businesses and communities,” said Alissa Barron-Menza, vice president of Business for a Fair Minimum. “Minimum wage increases go right back into the economy as workers can afford to buy more at local businesses. And businesses raising wages benefit from lower employee turnover and increased productivity.”

“Raising the minimum wage will help the economy and my business, said Scott Nash, CEO and founder of MOM’s Organic Market. “There is no higher return on investment than investing in people. Our workforce is more productive and engaged, and our retention rates have soared over the years. Longer-term employees also offer more expertise and better customer service, which helps increase revenues. Customers love shopping at places with engaged employees.”

"Our members fought hard, shoulder to shoulder with labor, faith, and civil rights groups, to make sure that the people who work in restaurants and stores, clean homes and landscape yards, can afford to actually live in a County that is so lucky to benefit from their amazing labor contributions,” said Gustavo Torres, executive director of CASA. “Now that we are finally reaching $15, it is time to fight for more."

“Jews United for Justice is incredibly proud of the work we did alongside labor, faith, and civil rights organizations to win a $15 minimum wage here in Montgomery County,” said Laura Wallace, Montgomery County senior organizer for Jews United for Justice. “One of the Jewish texts that JUFJ returns to over and over again is, “It is not on you to finish the work, but you can’t quit either” (Pirkei Avot 2:21). We know that the work of fighting for a Montgomery County where all working people have dei machsoro - resources sufficient to meet their needs - is not finished with the milestone of a $15 minimum wage. We won’t quit until everyone, regardless of race, income, or zip code, can thrive in our county.”

For more information about the County’s minimum wage increase click here.


Release ID: 21-524
Media Contact: Monika Hammer 240-463-2442
Categories: Executive Office