Washington, DC – Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) and 32BJ SEIU President Hector Figueroa today discussed the important role that state governments can play in increasing mobility, strengthening the middle class, and getting the country back on track to broadly shared prosperity. The event at the Center for American Progress Action Fund featured a CAP Action report, “States at Work: Progressive State Policies to Rebuild the Middle Class,” which includes more than 100 recommendations for how states can blaze a trail towards a more equitable and prosperous future.
Maryland is the first and only state to pass a living wage law that has been found to improve the competitiveness of govern¬ment contracting. Although Baltimore has its own living wage law, many workers aren’t benefiting from this successful policy. For example, private security officers employed by companies like Brantley Security, earn as little as $9 an hour, drastically below Baltimore’s Living Wage of $10.59. State governments can help professionalize the security industry by raising wage and training standards, as well as by setting high road procurement practices.
“Security officers in Baltimore earn far below the city’s living wage despite protecting buildings receiving millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies,” said 32BJ SEIU President, Hector Figueroa. “Many of these officers are single mothers and the head of their households who often have to work multiple jobs but still struggle to provide for their families. The American dream is based on the idea that every man and women – like security officers in Baltimore – can work hard, follow the rules and support their families.”
An official state study of Maryland’s living wage law found that the average number of bids per contract increased nearly 30 percent after the law was passed, and nearly half of contracting companies interviewed by state researchers said that the new labor standards encouraged them to bid on contracts because it “leveled the playing field”
On the other hand, Maryland’s minimum wage is currently just $7.25 per hour – that’s lower than the minimum wage in 19 states and the District. And this year, on December 31st, New York will become the 20th state to increase its minimum wage above $7.25 per hour. The Maryland Minimum Wage Bill would increase it from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour by 2016. This would mean an increase in pay for 536,000 workers in the state. It would also inject approximately $492 million into Maryland’s economy and create an estimated 4,280 new jobs.
Read the full report: States at Work: Progressive State Policies to Rebuild the Middle Class by Karla Walter, Tom Hucker, and David Madland. To speak with an expert on this topic, please contact Katie Peters at email@example.com or 202.741.6285.
With more than 125,000 members in nine states, including 17,000 in the D.C. Metropolitan Area, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.