Montgomery County council member pushing for $15 minimum wage

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MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MD - A Montgomery County council member Tuesday introduced a bill that would increase the minimum wage to $15 by 2020. Council member Marc Elrich is the lead sponsor of the legislation.

Council members George Leventhal, Nancy Navarro and Hans Riemer are co-sponsors.

Bill 12-16 would gradually increase the county minimum wage to $15 per hour by July 1, 2020.

The minimum wage is set to go up to $11.50 this July.

"It’s still not enough," council member Elrich said. "In Montgomery County, you need about $17 an hour to basically meet family needs."

But leaders of the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce don’t support the measure.

President and CEO Georgette Godwin sent DCW News at 10 this statement:

The discussion of a local minimum wage takes focus away from the need for more middle class jobs. That is where we need action by our elected officials – economic development that attracts and retains employers with the kinds of jobs that create life-long opportunities for our residents.

Elrich disagreed.

"That's not economic development, creating jobs that turn employees into dependence on the state," he said.

A similar bill is expected to be introduced in Washington D.C.

Elrich said he hoped to work with Mayor Muriel Bowser to make sure they have similar bills.

Tuesday afternoon, about a dozen D.C. tipped workers rallied outside the mayor’s office downtown.

"What we’re really focusing on right now -- it’s one fair wage campaign. And that’s about eliminating the reduced minimum wage for tip workers," said Jessica Wynter, a server.

Right now, tipped workers in D.C. make a minimum of $2.77 an hour.

Wynter said that was not enough to pay the bills.

"I’ve been employed full time and still need to rely on government benefits just to make my ends meet," she said.

Wynter and other tipped workers hope Mayor Bowser would get rid of the low-tipped worker wages and include them in the plan to hike up wages to $15 an hour.

"I work an 11-hour shift and still don’t make 11-dollars in my paycheck,” she said.

In Montgomery County, the employer has to pay tipped workers the difference between what the worker makes and the overall minimum wage, so they’d end up with $15 an hour if the bill passes.