The $15 minimum wage bill introduced by Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke and supported by a majority of the Baltimore City Council early this year will be voted on in the next few weeks. Many business owners are concerned about what this may do to their businesses, future business development in Baltimore and how it will affect the surrounding counties.
Those concerns include small businesses that can't afford this massive bump in labor costs over the next four years. Prices will have to go up in order to absorb the cost, and it will create an unfair advantage in pricing for the county as businesses located there will not be forced to raise prices.
In addition, other employee wages will have to be raised accordingly, and this could eventually lead to layoffs. City residents of limited income will suffer inflated prices with no raise for them at all.
The minimum wage is not meant to be a "living wage," it is often students and people looking for part-time wages who are paid the minimum. Raising that wage will deter people from opening businesses in the city, as they will opt to open in the county with lower wages.
The push for these wage increases comes from several unions including AFSME, SEIU and Maryland Working Families. It is disturbing that in a heated primary election year, this bill which is backed by so many powerful labor unions was so heavily supported by the members of the City Council.
How are city businesses, which are already heavily burdened with so many taxes and so much bureaucracy, expected to endure the added expenses that will totally place us out of the market with the rest of the state where the minimum wage is capped at $10.10?
This is another example of the disconnect between politicians and economics.
Ann Costlow, Baltimore
The writer is president of the Govanstowne Business Association.