Minimum Wage Victories in Maryland Keep the Pressure on D.C. for Wage Increases Across the Region

Council member Vincent Orange took to the mic at Tuesday's rally to congratulate activists efforts in their continued efforts for a raise in the wage for DC constituents.

Council member Vincent Orange took to the mic at Tuesday’s rally to congratulate activists efforts in their continued efforts for a raise in the wage for DC constituents.

Last week we took a stand for increasing the minimum wage in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties and won. The wage will steadily increase over the next 4 years, reaching $11.50 by 2017.

Tuesday, D.C. followed suit and voted unanimously to pass a minimum wage bill that would raise the wage to $11.50 by 2016, one year earlier than the two Maryland counties. The DC bill also includes indexing the minimum wage to the CPI, which was stripped out of the MontCo and PG bills, though Council Chairman Phil Mendelson credited the Montgomery and Prince George’s Councils for leading the way on the issue.

In an effort to reach a regional minimum wage standard, a coalition of community groups and labor groups —including Local 400—rallied yesterday before the vote at the D.C. Council Building, calling on the City Council members to pass the minimum wage bill that last week was passed unanimously in a 6-0 vote by the Committee on Business, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. City Council members Muriel Bowser, Vincent Orange, and Tommy Wells spoke out at yesterday’s rally on our continued efforts to give DC workers a raise.

“We will have a victory today because you all have been relentless,” Tommy Wells said.

“Sure it’s a victory, but today is just the first step,” said Joslyn Williams, President of the AFL-CIO Metro Washington Council. “We have to keep fighting not just for a raise in the minimum wage, but a living wage for those in this city!”

In the weeks leading up to the first vote by the Council, the coalition visited the offices of City Council members as well as set up patch-through calls to them emphasizing the importance of increasing the minimum wage to $11.50 by 2016 with indexing to the CPI in the city with the highest cost of living in the country. The coalition has grown since the efforts to pass the Large Retailer Accountability Act, which Mayor Vincent Gray (who on Monday announced he’ll run for re-election) vetoed back in September.

The minimum wage bill will continue to its second reading, scheduled for December 17. Be sure to visit Local 400’s website for updates!