WASHINGTON — The latest plan to phase in a $15 an hour minimum wage in Montgomery County got mixed reviews Tuesday night at a council public hearing.
The bill is slightly different from one the council approved earlier this year that was vetoed by County Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett.
The county’s current minimum wage is $11.50 an hour, and under the new plan, businesses with at least 26 employees would have until 2020 to raise wages to $15 an hour.
Smaller businesses, nonprofit groups and in-home health care providers would have more time — until 2022 — to boost workers’ pay to the $15 level.
“I have personally experienced being on my own with the current minimum wage, and I felt it was impossible to make it,” said 21-year-old Diamonte Rodriguez, who testified in favor of the bill.
Jaime Contreras, with the Service Employees International Union local 32BJ, said the time is right to give low-wage workers a boost. “Washington, D.C. passed a $15 minimum wage years ago, and guess what? Washington, D.C. is still thriving. And so is their businesses,” Contreras added.
But Ron Zimmerman, co-owner of Zimmerman’s Ace Hardware in Burtonsville, thinks the plan would be devastating for him.
“It will cause us to lose our business, plain and simple,” he said.
Ilaya Hopkins, with the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, agreed.
“This additional increase is too much, too fast,” she said.
The bill will be discussed by the council’s Health and Human Services Committee at a meeting tentatively scheduled for Oct. 9.