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CONTACT: Bob Keener, 617-610-6766,

Annapolis, March 7, 2019 — Local business owners are pleased the Senate Finance Committee advanced a $15 minimum wage bill today, while calling on the full Senate to restore a general phase-in timeline for businesses of all sizes.

The Senate Finance Committee took up the version of the bill that was passed by the House, which extended the phase-in timeline for reaching $15 to 2025. Unfortunately, the Finance Committee also added an amendment extending the phase-in by three years for businesses with 14 or fewer employees; those businesses would not reach $15 until 2028. That would actually put more than three out of four Maryland businesses on a longer timeline. It would reduce the consumer spending boost that comes from broadly raising the minimum wage and diminish the ability of small businesses to hire and retain workers.

“Maryland has moved one step closer to raising the minimum wage to $15. But the timetable should be applied to businesses of all sizes, rather than putting the majority of businesses on a slower path,” said Alissa Barron-Menza, Vice President of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage. “A lower minimum wage doesn’t help small businesses, it hurts them. It incentivizes people to work for larger businesses rather than smaller businesses in order to make ends meet. Small businesses that opt to use the lower minimum wage floor will have higher turnover and lower productivity and undercut the customer service that keeps people coming in their doors. As the Senate now takes up SB280, businesses across the state are renewing their call for a stronger wage floor.”

Maryland business owners commented today in support of a $15 minimum wage:

Annebeth Bunker, owner of Annebeth’s in Annapolis, said, “As a retail store owner, I know how important good employees are to the success and stability of a business. Last year, we celebrated 20 years serving customers on historic Maryland Avenue in Annapolis. Fair pay helps us hire and retain good people, and it boosts morale. More experienced employees can also take better care of your customers. In retail, good customer service makes all the difference in keeping customers or losing them.”

“Raising the minimum wage statewide will boost consumer spending. That's the help businesses need to be successful,” said Whitney Palmer, owner of Berlin Animal Hospital in Berlin.“Maryland is a state with an expensive cost of living— this is even true on the Eastern Shore, where my business is located. Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour statewide can help uplift entire communities.”

Gina Schaefer, owner of A Few Cool Hardware Stores, a group of 11 Ace Hardware stores in Maryland, D.C. and Virginia, including Canton Ace Hardware, Federal Hill Ace Hardware and Waverly Ace Hardware in Baltimore and Old Takoma Ace Hardware in Takoma Park, said, “A Few Cool Hardware Stores is on track to pay $15 an hour by 2020 at all our locations; a plan we implemented when DC passed its increase to $15. With D.C.’s minimum wage increases that are currently in progress, we’ve had lead time to gradually increase our starting wage and prepare for it. Similarly, phasing in Maryland’s increase provides businesses time to implement a plan of their own.”

Alvin Stewart, owner of Patrell Cleaning Solutions in Waldorf, said “Three of my five employees have worked with me for five years, and I just hired two new employees. A reason that my employees stick around is I pay them enough to make a decent living. Not having to deal with constant turnover has saved my business a lot of stress and money. Turnover can be very costly for businesses. I support $15 by 2023 with no exemptions.”

“Across our 35 years in business, we’ve learned that our people are one of our most important investments,” said Kit Wood, owner of Green Plate Catering in Wheaton. “Fair wages are central to keeping people growing with your business rather than a high-turnover model which costs you money and time. Paying fair wages is not only an investment in your people and the success of your business, it’s an investment in our communities.”

These and other business leaders are available for comment and/or broadcast bookings. To schedule an interview, contact Bob Keener at or 617-610-6766.


Business for a Fair Minimum Wage is a national network of business owners and executives and business organizations that believe a fair minimum wage makes good business sense.