On September 11, St. Dunstan's hosted a lively and informative discussion of the $15/hour minimum wage bill before the Montgomery County Council. It featured presentations by County Council Chairman Roger Berliner, who had reservations about the bill, but committed to passing some version of it before the end of the year, and Councilmember Marc Elrich, the sponsor of the bill. This was a great chance for St. Dunstan's parishioners and members of the local community to catch up on a crucial public policy issue that has a significant moral and religious dimension. We had about 40 people there.
The Montgomery County Council is considering a revised bill raising the county minimum wage to $15/hour by 2020. It is currently $11.50. In its last action, the Council called for an economic report, which was delivered over the summer. At our meeting, both councilmembers criticized the report. It will be the subject of a discussion with the Council on September 19. There will be a further hearing on September 26, at which I will be testifying. If you are interested in attending as well, let me know. These meetings are a good way to understand community sentiment and see our Council at work.
Berliner said they would get a bill passed this year. Erlich was also confident that something would be accomplished this year. The audience raised a series of questions probing the councilmembers on issues such as exceptions for workers making tips, the size of the company that would be able to delay compliance, teen exception, what to do about non-profits.
This was an important event for St. Dunstan's in establishing ourselves as a place for the discussion of significant moral issues in public policy. We had previously had a successful discussion of immigration. The Economic Justice Working will be meeting soon to think about next steps in our work in this area. If you are interested please get in touch with Mark MacCarthy.