FREDERICK COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Last week, in anticipation of the General Assembly bill hearing on the Fight for Fifteen minimum wage increase, and reflecting the consistent position of many of our members, I sent out a "toolkit" and a message about why an across-the-board minimum wage increase could be detrimental to many Chamber members. Not every Chamber member concurs with our position, though. In fact, a few of our members feel very differently. Out of respect for those members, we've decided to share at least one of the responses we received that differ from our viewpoint.
You see, the true power of the Frederick Chamber is that we deeply respect each other, and when we have disagreements over policy, we want to give a fair opportunity to express those difference in a professional and respectful manner. In the case of the minimum wage proposal, the members of the elected Democratic Central Committee, a partisan group of men and women who support the principles of the Democrat Party and their county, state and federal elected Democrats, wanted to share their opinion that a minimum wage increase is high priority among members of their party.
While their position doesn't necessarily align with a majority of the other members of the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce, I believe it's important to allow that view to be shared with everyone. Knowledge is power, and the more we know, the closer we'll get to policy solutions that satisfy the largest number of us.
- Rick Weldon, President & CEO
February 8, 2019
As members of the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce, the Frederick County Democratic Central Committee recently received an email from local Chamber President and CEO Rick Weldon asking members to lobby against legislation currently being considered in the Maryland General Assembly, raising the minimum wage. We are disappointed in the Chamber leadership’s stand on this issue; we support the proposed minimum wage increase to $15 an hour and urge the General Assembly to implement it.
Our economy is primarily driven by consumer demand. The more money working people take home from their jobs, the more money they can spend to support local merchants. Well-paid workers expand potential markets for county businesses and improve the standard of living for the entire community, creating more (and more affluent) potential customers for every economic sector, including restaurants, retail, and real estate. An increase in the minimum wage will keep more money in Frederick County.
We are mindful of the increase in automation, but this issue is at a different level. Its relationship to the minimum wage is tenuous at best. The ongoing dramatic leaps in technology are what have fueled the automation revolution, and no action on the minimum wage (either way) will affect its momentum. We will eventually, as a society, need to re-evaluate the relationship between work and income in the wake of across-the-board automation, but the trend will not be slowed down by restricting the minimum wage.
We have increased the minimum wage many times in our history, and every time the same arguments against it are dusted off, but our economy has continued to thrive with every adjustment. If the demand is there, our businesses will prosper.
As a society, it is in our best interest to incentivize honest work. If local jobs don't pay enough for our citizens to live adequately, more and more workers will simply drop out of the job market and turn to welfare or crime to get by. It should be self-evident that this is not a desirable situation. A job that does not pay enough to enable a person to live might as well not exist.
First-world wages produce first-world economies; third-world wages produce third-world economies. Frederick County enjoys a high quality of life, and the minimum-wage increase will extend that high quality to more citizens. For these reasons, we encourage the Chamber to support the minimum wage increase to $15 an hour. It is a win-win solution.
On behalf of the Frederick County Democratic State Central Committee,
Deborah Carter, Chair
Mari Lee, Vice Chair
Lauren Beacham, Secretary
Tony Soltero, Treasurer
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