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Marc Elrich for Montgomery County Executive

Marc Elrich (right) poses for a photo with Safeway #1956 shop steward Sharon Glaser.

After years of leading many fights for working families—including passage of a $15/hour minimum wage—Montgomery County Councilman Marc Elrich more than earned Local 400’s enthusiastic recommendation in his campaign for Montgomery County Executive.

Local 400’s support in the June 26th primary helped Elrich win a narrow victory over a wealthy opponent who spent $5.4 million. Normally, the Democratic nominee is all but assured of victory in the general election in deep blue Montgomery County, but Elrich’s courage in championing workers earned the hostility of developers and other wealthy special interests. They have taken unprecedented action to try to stop him by convincing a pro-business county councilmember, Nancy Floreen, to enter the race as an independent. Elrich is abiding by the County’s public financing law, which prohibits corporations from donating to his campaign and requires him to raise small donations from county residents. Meanwhile, Floreen is using public financing in order to take advantage of all the special interest money flowing her way.  As a result, Elrich will be outspent. It will take people to put him over the top.

“On every issue that matters, from the $15 minimum wage to paid family and sick leave legislation, Marc Elrich has stood with us,” said Local 400 President Mark P. Federici. “Now, we must stand with him.

“Anti-worker special interest money is flooding into Montgomery County to try to elect a council member who didn’t have the guts to get into the primary, who voted against the $15 minimum wage the first time Marc put it before the Council, and who sponsored legislation undermining County employees’ collective bargaining rights,” Federici said. “We cannot let private profits trump the public good in this election, and that’s why I urge Local 400 members to volunteer and vote for Marc Elrich.”

As Elrich has noted, ​“Raising the minimum wage has already tangibly improved the lives of over 100,000 people and will continue to improve those lives and more in the years to come. An adequate minimum wage is life-altering for families and disproportionately benefits women and people of color. As a Montgomery County public school teacher for 17 years, I also know that the biggest barriers to students’ success are the inequalities that impact their lives, and that raising the minimum wage is thus particularly important for children.

“I have sponsored two successful minimum wage increases,” he added. “Several years ago, I helped convince lawmakers in Washington, D.C., Prince George’s County, and Montgomery County to join forces and push for higher minimum wages together. I then championed the cause of the workers behind the Fight For $15, and we succeeded last year in passing legislation that will gradually increase Montgomery County’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.

“My vision is a modern economy that encourages entrepreneurship, moves people and goods efficiently, develops today’s and tomorrow’s workforce, ensures regulations are sensible, and promotes opportunity for all,” Elrich said.

“The only way to have pro-worker progressive leadership in Montgomery County is to elect Marc Elrich as county executive,” Federici said. “All of our members living or working in Montgomery County have a lot at stake in ensuring that Marc wins.”

Election day is Tuesday, November 6, 2018. Early voting takes place from October 25th through  November 1st.

Most Candidates Backed by Local 400 Win Maryland Primary Elections

Photo via Twitter @BenJealous

Jealous Receives Nomination for Governor

Elrich Narrowly Leads Montgomery Executive Race

Candidates backed by Local 400 won more than they lost in the 2018 Maryland primaries, with a huge victory in the nomination of former NAACP President Ben Jealous for governor. Jealous (D) will face off against incumbent Gov. Larry Hogan (R) in the November 6th general election.

In addition, Montgomery County Councilmember Marc Elrich, a longtime Local 400 ally and champion of the $15 minimum wage, is holding a narrow lead of 473 votes in the race for Montgomery County executive as of Wednesday afternoon. This contest won’t be decided for days if not weeks due to the need to count absentee and provisional ballots.

Other winning candidates recommended by Local 400 include:

  • Attorney and community activist Will Jawando, who won the Democratic nomination for a Montgomery County Council at-large seat.
  • Montgomery County Councilmember Nancy Navarro (District 4).
  • Montgomery County Councilmember Tom Hucker (District 5).
  • Civic activist Tom Dernoga, who won the Democratic nomination for Prince George’s County Council in the 1st district.
  • Prince George’s County Councilmember Deni Taveras (District 2).
  • Former State Del. Jolene Ivey, who won the Democratic nomination for Prince George’s County Council in the 5th district.
  • State Del. Aisha Braveboy, who won the Democratic nomination for Prince George’s County State’s Attorney.

In addition, community activist Krystal Oriadha was trailing by just nine votes as of Wednesday afternoon in her race for Prince George’s County Council in the 7th district.

“Local 400 members worked hard for our recommended candidates in this all-important primary election, and I am especially pleased that we have a dynamic Democratic nominee for governor in Ben Jealous,” said Local 400 President Mark P. Federici. “He will be the fiercest fighter for working families we’ve ever had in Annapolis if we can help propel him to victory over Larry Hogan in November. His work as a civil rights leader and community organizer is beyond compare, and his agenda of a $15/hour minimum wage and a free community college education for all is exactly what Marylanders need. We’re going to do everything in our power to elect this great pro-worker champion as Maryland’s next governor.

“While it will take some time to be certain, we are also very pleased that Marc Elrich is leading in the race for Montgomery County Executive,” Federici said. “His sponsorship of Montgomery County’s $15/hour minimum wage law and the consistent strong support he gives to our hardworking members will make him a great progressive leader of this large, diverse county.”

Local 400 recommended candidates who were not nominated include Brandy Brooks and Chris Wilhelm (Montgomery County Council at large), Ben Shnider (Montgomery County Council-3), Donna Edwards (Prince George’s County Executive), Gerron Levi and Karen Toles (Prince George’s County Council at large), and Tony Knotts (Prince George’s County Council 8th district).

“My congratulations to all our recommended candidates, no matter the outcome of their primaries, for running strong campaigns and advocating pro-worker policies,” Federici said. “Now, it’s on to the November general election, where our members will have so much at stake and so much to fight for.”

Montgomery County Passes $15 Minimum Wage

Members of the Montgomery County Council were joined by County Executive Ike Leggett at a ceremony on Monday, November 13 where a $15 minimum wage was signed into law. Photo courtesy of 32BJ SEIU.

Today, at a ceremony in Rockville, county council members signed legislation to increase the minimum wage to $15 in Montgomery County, Maryland.

The council unanimously passed legislation last week to raise the wage to $15 per hour for businesses employing 51 or more workers by 2021, for businesses employing 11-50 employees by 2023, and for businesses employing 10 and fewer employees by 2024.

After it reaches $15/hour, the bill requires the minimum wage to be indexed to inflation, so wages will continue to rise without having to work to pass a new bill every few years!

The county joins neighboring Washington, D.C. in providing a $15 minimum wage. More than 100,000 Montgomery County workers earn minimum wage, currently $11.50/hour.

In Montgomery County today, a single worker without family responsibilities needs to earn more than $21 per hour just to meet basic needs. A worker raising children needs much more. A majority of the people earning minimum wage are women and people of color.

UFCW Local 400 was part of a coalition of organizations who led efforts to pass this legislation, including 32BJ SEIU,  CASA, Jews United for Justice, Progressive Maryland, AFL-CIO Labor Council, Maryland Working Families, and the National Employment Law Project (NELP). While the bill ultimately passed unanimously with the full support of the council, councilmembers Marc Elrich, Tom Hucker, Nancy Navarro, George Leventhal, and Hans Riemer championed the legislation from the very beginning.

Research has shown that overwhelmingly, cities that have raised the wage have not experienced job loss and the local economy continues to prosper. Moreover, a wage increase can reduce reliance on public assistance from a safety net that faces extreme cuts from the Trump administration, placing a heavier burden on local taxpayers.