Baltimore Business Journal: Push begins to raise Maryland's minimum wage to $15, dividing business community

By Holden Wilen
Baltimore Business Journal, Jan 15, 2019

The fight to raise Maryland's minimum wage to $15 began in earnest Monday with a coalition of lawmakers, advocates and business owners starting their push to pass a bill during the General Assembly's current legislative session. ... Advocates for raising the minimum wage argue that increasing pay could put more money in the pockets of almost 600,000 people.

Brian England, president of B.A. Auto Care in Columbia, said he supports raising the minimum wage because he believes it helps employees from making tough spending decisions and improves retention. His company employs 17 people, all of whom make at least $15 per hour.

"When you look after employees and you pay a fair wage, you end up with little turnover and get good retention," England said. "I see working people having to choose between replacing bald tires and putting in a new battery. It’s bad for workers and businesses that people working full-time need to make choices like that."

Increasing the minimum wage will also help businesses increase sales because workers will be able to afford goods and services they could not before, said Alissa Barron-Menza, vice president of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage. When workers can't sufficiently meet their needs, it's bad for business, she said.

Members of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage include Michael Lastoria, CEO of &pizza; Annebeth Bunker, owner of Annebeth’s in Annapolis; and Ned Atwater co-owner of the Atwater's restaurant chain. Gina Schaefer, owner of A Few Cool Hardware Stores, which operates Ace Hardware store locations including Canton, Federal Hill and Waverly is also part of the group. ...

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