The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Living wages ... nowhere in Maryland

Jun 7, 2004

Maryland's majority-Democratic state legislature passed what was popularly called the Living Wage bill in the session that ended in April. The bill would have raised hourly wages to $10.50 for workers employed by companies with state contracts worth at least $100,000.

On May 25, Robert Ehrlich, the Republican governor of Maryland, vetoed the bill, as the Democrats knew he would.

Despite the fanfare over the bill, the Democrats had no intention of increasing wages. They were simply using the bill as a political ploy, knowing the Republican governor would veto it.

The proof of their real policy is what the Democrats have done – or rather not done – when they really could have passed such a bill. They had years, even decades, in which they controlled both the legislature and the governor's mansion. In all those years, the Democrats never passed a bill to raise the wages of the lowest paid workers. In fact, they pushed the practice of sub-contracting out state work to businesses that pay exceedingly low wages.

And the Democrats, when they controlled the purse strings, never used that control to bring up the pay of the lowest grade state workers who also make less than $10.50 an hour.

No, all we are seeing is an election year trick which the Democrats hope will convince some voters that they are the party which is the "friend" of labor.