Rockville, MD– The union representing thousands of commercial office cleaners and other property service workers in Montgomery County issued the following statement in response to County Executive Ike Leggett’s study on raising the minimum wage to $15.
The following statement is attributable to Maria Naranjo, 32BJ Capital Area Director, 32BJ SEIU:
“In one of the wealthiest counties in the United States, our elected leaders should be moving forward with policies that balance the economy and lift thousands of county residents out of poverty. Instead, County Executive Leggett is commissioning unreliable studies as a red herring to avoid raising the wage like so many other economically prosperous cities have done successfully.
“The Leggett study bases its conclusion, not on facts, but on the concerns of business owners. The study completely overlooks the increase in employment the county has seen over the last three years while similar minimum wage increases have taken place. We should not halt the progress we have made and keep Montgomery County workers in poverty based on the hypothetical actions of business owners that are inconsistent with recent experience. Hard-working low income men and women need a raise to better support their families in the real world. The County owes them the same rooting in reality when they create policy that affects their lives.
“The study borrows heavily from an oft-cited Seattle study that has largely been debunked and feeds into the restaurant-industry and right-wing hype machine that claims a livable wage is bad for workers. The Seattle study and Leggett’s study don’t even come close to proving that a living wage would harm the economy. Overwhelmingly, cities that have raised the wage to $15 have not experienced job loss and the local economy continues to prosper.
“When workers’ wages go up, they can take care of their kids, pay their rent and spend money on necessities in their local community. A raise to $15 will also reduce reliance on public assistance from a safety net that faces extreme cuts from the Trump administration, eventually placing a heavier burden on local taxpayers. Giving Montgomery County’s low-wage workers a leg up is good for workers, taxpayers and good for businesses. The time has come for the County Executive to put forward a clean bill to raise the wage—no exemptions and no more excuses.”
With more than 163,000 members in 11 states, including 17,000 in the D.C. Metropolitan Area, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.