Carroll County Times
Carroll County

Edwards calls on Maryland Senate to restore wage hike for tipped employees

U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards called on the state Senate Wednesday to restore a wage increase for tipped employees to the minimum wage bill working its way through the General Assembly.

After a morning news conference at the State House, Edwards told the Capital Gazette Editorial Board that the House of Delegates bowed to pressure from the national restaurant industry to removed tipped employees from the bill and freeze their wages at $3.63 an hour.

The bill approved by the house would increase would minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 by 2017. In it's original form, it would have pegged wages for tipped employees at 70 percent of regular minimum wage.

"What you've done is you've now created an even greater gap between our lowest wage workers and low wage workers," Edwards said. "This is different than it's been done in any other state and I just don't think it's acceptable to do that."

Edwards, a Prince George's County Democrat whose 4th District includes the central portion of Anne Arundel County, said about 100,000 people in Maryland work for tips, and 66 percent of them are women. She said a similar number of the 400,000 people working for minimum wage are also woman.

Most are supporting families, she said, and because they don't earn enough to rise above the poverty line, they must rely on publicly funded programs that provide food, heating, housing and health care assistance.

"Our tax dollars are actually subsidizing the profit line of employers who are not paying a minimum wage," Edwards said.

Edwards is co-sponsoring a federal bill to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 with gradual increases for tipped workers.