Maryland counties push for increase in minimum wage

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (WJLA) - The push is on in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties to increase the minimum wage and not wait for the state of Maryland to do it.

The employees at ChiDogO's in National Harbor say they’re lucky because their employer pays a bit more than minimum wage.

“[You] can’t live on $7.25 an hour. [You] can’t even pay your bills at $7.25 an hour,” says Carlos Galindez.

“I think $7.25 is minimum,” says Michael Tavares. “You’re probably just making it by.”

And yet across Maryland, some 70,000 working adults, just more than 5 percent, mostly in restaurant and service jobs, try to get by on exactly that amount. A hike in the wage is gaining traction in the Maryland State House, but now council members in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties as well as the District say they can’t wait.

“We’re charged with taking care of our residents and making sure they have a quality of life,” says Andrea Harrison, Prince George's County Council chair.

D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and Montgomery Council member Marc Elrich are each pushing for an $11.50 minimum wage phased in over three years.

“The bottom line is that it’s expensive to live in this region. Everything has gone up in cost, but minimum wage has not since 2009,” says Harrison.

The council members face a battle convincing business owners, Council colleagues and their own executives that it’s a good idea to raise the minimum wage regionally rather than state or nationwide.

“I think that would be a great idea,” says Galindez. “It’s more money for the people in their pockets. They work hard for their money and they deserve a little bit more money."