Following the actions of lawmakers in Prince George and Montgomery counties, local lawmakers on the Washington, D.C. city council have voted to raise the minimum wage well above the federally mandated $7.25. The measure to raise the minimum wage to $11.50 still must face a final vote and must be signed by the mayor before it becomes law. It is likely to be finalized early next year, despite statements by the mayor that he would prefer a smaller increase.
The debate on increasing the minimum wage in Washington, D.C. was sparked by an effort to aid workers at Wal-Mart and other large retailers by requiring those employers to pay a premium minimum wage. Eventually efforts began to expand increased pay, leading to the current version of the bill that councilmembers voted on this week that increases minimum wage across the board and ties future wage increases to inflation. Failing to compensate for inflation is one of the major reasons why the federally mandated minimum wage is no longer enough for workers to survive and feed their families.
The D.C. city council also voted to compel employers to give employee who work for tips give days of accrued sick time, closing a loophole that left workers vulnerable.
The minimum wage increases in Prince George and Montgomery counties raise the pay rate in increments over the course of the next several years.
The increase in minimum wages will have a positive impact for a lot of families both in Maryland and Washington D.C. The passage of these new laws also serves as an important reminder to workers that they have a right to fair treatment and fair pay, no matter what they do for a living.
Source: Washington Post, “D.C. Council backs $11.50 minimum wage,” Aaron C. Davis, Dec. 3, 2013.