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Maryland First to Have 'Living Wage' Law

Maryland today became the first state in the nation to require government contractors to pay their employees significantly better than the minimum wage, under legislation signed into law by Gov. Martin O'Malley (D).

The "living wage" measure, which was passed last month by the General Assembly, requires companies working in the Washington-Baltimore corridor to pay $11.30 an hour. For those doing work in more rural counties, the floor is $8.50 an hour.

The bill was among more than 200 signed by O'Malley today at the third in a series of ceremonies since the session's end. Other measures signed today freeze university tuition in the fall and offer Maryland's apology for its participation in the slave trade. O'Malley has yet to veto any bills but voiced concerns again today about one which would make twice-convicted drug dealers eligible for parole.

The "living wage" bill, which advocates have pushed for nearly a decade, says to state contract workers that "we are going to treat you in a fair and just and decent way," O'Malley said.

A similar measure was passed by the legislature in 2004 but vetoed by then-Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), who argued that it would drive up the price of state contracts significantly. Republicans made similar arguments during the recently concluded session.

But advocates pointed to studies from localities around the country showing only modest cost increases.

Del. Tom Hucker (D-Montgomery), a major backer of the bill, said that higher productivity and less turnover among workers offset employers' cost of paying higher wages.

"The important thing is we're lifting people up and helping hard-working families," Hucker said. He estimated that 50,000 workers could be affected by the bill.

By John Wagner  |  May 8, 2007; 12:21 PM ET
Categories:  John Wagner  
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Comments

That's all well and good but when the economy takes a downturn it just means that more folks will be laid off or not offered a job in the first place because the wage is so high.

Posted by: FLvet | May 8, 2007 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Glad I live in Virgina

see what happens when Democrats are in charge


Posted by: Virginia all the way | May 8, 2007 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Will the governor be willing to live on the new wage for a year to demonstrate how well one can survive???

Instead of creating opportunities for individuals to advance, the Dems choose to throw thousands out of work. Our tax dollars at work.

Posted by: Bruce A. Dembroski | May 8, 2007 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Finally, a cost effective piece of legislation. Living wages work well. Cost goes up marginally on contracts, but Policing costs go down and it is a boon for the economies where these people live, after all, 6 bucks an hour or 11 bucks an hour, you're stil having to spend all of it to survive.

Nobody will be laid off, because the contractor will still make money on the contract and still has incentives to hire. Big business stops seeking profit when it becomes unprofitable, not before. And besides, The minimum wage currently is a joke, a laughable, shameful joke. Franklin, Jefferson and Washington believed in honest wages for honest work (excluding slavery) but you don't? If you can't have growth without a livable wage being supplied then what point is there in capitalism? I happen to believe fully in capitalism and that a rising tide raises all boats. This is part of that rising tide. Good Job Maryland.

Posted by: DCAustinite | May 8, 2007 1:54 PM | Report abuse

I applaud Governor O'Malley for his efforts at keeping Maryland a strong state with a focus on treating people well. If more people and businesses were this fair and understanding to our workers, all of America could have a better quality of life. If these past 7 years of the Bush administration have taught us anything, it is that being overly generous to Corporate America does not translate into a better-paid or better-treated work force. In fact, allowing Corporate America to have free rein from governmental controls has led us to situations where we have fewer workers covered by health insurance. We also have oil companies earning record profits at the expense of American citizens. The government should make certain things mandatory for corporations. Paying fair wages and not mistreating consumers are the two most basic. Another positive step for Americans would be to not allow companies to make excessive profits at the expense of consumers.

Posted by: Kay D. | May 8, 2007 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Virginia all the way trumpeted: `Glad I live in Virgina`. I'm glad you do too. BTW, Good job, Governor!

Posted by: Proud Marylander | May 8, 2007 2:05 PM | Report abuse

If a living wage is a good idea for government contracts, why doesn't the Maryland legislature mandate it for ALL employers?

And why should the living wage be only $11.30 an hour? All that does is lift working people out of poverty. Maryland should set an example for the rest of the nation and raise the living wage to $100 an hour. That way, everyone could be rich.

Whoever said that eliminating poverty was hard didn't realize you could just legislate it away.

Posted by: BPSCG in Virginia | May 8, 2007 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Lots of assumptions there, dcaustinite -

"1) Nobody will be laid off, because..."
"2) the contractor will still make money on the contract and..."
"3) still has incentives to hire."

Businesses will have an increased incentive to outsource to out-of-state companies, automate, or hire laborers who are willing to work off the books.

"4) Big business stops seeking profit when it becomes unprofitable, not before."

Sounds like you don't know too much about economics. When would a business ever decide it didn't care about actually getting a return on its investments?

And do you think they would actually wait until after a venture becomes unprofitable to actually do something about it, rather than planning ahead?

Posted by: Frank_IBC | May 8, 2007 2:38 PM | Report abuse

How in the world are businesses supposed to absorb this cost? A 50% increase in labor costs is going to put a lot of small businesses under. O'Malley may mean well, but this living wage is going to cost the State of Maryland dearly. Lower wage earners who manage to keep their jobs can say goodbye to all of their benefits (medical, retirement, etc...) because companies will have to balance the increased cost with something. If not, businesses may just stop doing business in the State of Maryland. Cheap, skilled labor is easily found across state lines.

O'Malley is taken no time proving what a bad choice voters made last November!

Posted by: Tom | May 8, 2007 2:39 PM | Report abuse

4) Big business stops seeking profit when it becomes unprofitable, not before."

"Sounds like you don't know too much about economics. When would a business ever decide it didn't care about actually getting a return on its investments?"

Wow, look who took the big leap with their statements there. Of course businesses care about returns on investment, but the old canard that businesses will stop doing business because the profits aren't as high as they used to be is stupid. Of course they will, and if they stop, good, other businesses will come in and leap at the chance to turn a profit on a state contract. But to argue I don't understand economics because I dare to suggest that business will keep going even if you nick into a little of their profit margins is specious at best.

There's enough to go around here. The rising tide lifts all boats. 6 dollars an hour is 12000 a year, this isn't about economy, it's about justice. no one who works 40 hours a week should ever earn under the federal poverty level, which is 18k. That's simple christian decency. Nothing more.

Posted by: DCaustinite | May 8, 2007 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Why does the governor have to appologize for something that happened 150 years ago? I cannot believe that governments bow down to minorities as if they run our country. We no longer live in a democracy!

Posted by: Singh | May 8, 2007 3:02 PM | Report abuse

So dcaustinite believes that he, not the persons who actually CREATED the jobs, should be the one who determines the compensation.

Posted by: Frank_IBC | May 8, 2007 3:02 PM | Report abuse

DCaustinite the companies will just raise their prices to keep the profets the same which just leads to inflation. Why do you think so many compaines are outsourcing jobs overseas? The number one reason is because they can pay workers lower wages. Maryland is trying to mandate to many things which will mess with a free market place economy. As soon as choices become limited the prices go up.

Posted by: FLvet | May 8, 2007 3:15 PM | Report abuse

It seems very odd to me that people take such outrageous negative views against a very positive act. Why go so far as to suggest that a living wage should be $100? That is ridiculous and shows that the writer has not interest in a rational, serious discussion, but would rather engage in extreme vitriol to take the discussion to an irrational and nonsensical end.

Economic experts will tell you that the federal minimum wage is not enough for one person -- let alone a family of 3 or 4 -- to survive. To make ends meet, many families whose wage earners only earn the federal minimum wage are forced to work multiple jobs to pay for the bare necessities of life. A living wage is one that allows a family to have a higher quality of life without working 100 hours per week to make ends meet. I support any measure which reasonably makes the quality of life higher.

As for the doomsday predicters who suggest that imposing a "living wage" on government contractors will result in an industry-wide economic failure, feel free to worry yourselves sick over the future plight of government contracting. Personally, I won't worry about them one bit. We should all make as much money as government contractors. And it's high time that the government brought the contractors into the real world. For too many decades now, we have had government contractors who foist off onto the public unconscionable cost overruns for what is often times a shoddy work product. It's time to give them all a wake-up call: In the real world, you have to do your job well in order to keep it, and that means no cost overruns, no treating your employees badly, no bilking the Treasury and the public!

Posted by: Kay D. | May 8, 2007 3:23 PM | Report abuse

And frank believes that companies should be able to pay whatever they like, since throughout history companies has always engaged in paying honest, fair wages.

"So dcaustinite believes that he, not the persons who actually CREATED the jobs, should be the one who determines the compensation."

For the record, the 'person' who actually created the job is state, who is issuing the contract. They are in fact determining how much the employee should be paid.

By the way, your argument is bogus anyway, since New York City has had a living wage law for years and has one of the most vibrant economies anywhere. It had absolutely 0 effect on the growth of the city, but coincedentally was timed with a drastic drop in crimes, and domestic assaults. Probably not too related, but certainly more related than your socalled death of business.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 3:27 PM | Report abuse

This will only do one thing. Cost taxpayers. Now governement contracts costs will double meaning less money for education and health care and instead more money for government contractors. This will cost the state government a lot, really a lot more money, with probaly worse services.

Posted by: colossus911 | May 8, 2007 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Government contracting operates the same way the free market does: Companies place bids for work with the government. The lowest bidder who can reasonably complete the job gets the work. There will never be a shortage of companies to bid on government contracts. But it clearly is time for our governments to set rigorous limits on what government contractors can get away with. Right now, they bid on a contract, and then bilk the government and the public out of outrageous sums of money on cost overruns, while at the same time not paying their taxes! The next step for Governor O'Malley is to sign into law a mandate that government contractors will only get paid above the bid amount those costs that are approved by a panel made up of government officials, industry representatives, legislators and members of the public. The panel would have to carefully review the exact reason behind the cost overruns to determine whether it is the fault of the contractor that the extra cost has occurred (in which case the contractor would not be paid anything over the original bid amount), or whether the overage was beyond the contractor's control (in which case the contractor would be paid the extra amount).

As for outsourcing overseas, obviously that doesn't make any sense whatsoever. The law requires companies working in the D.C.-Baltimore corridor to pay their employees the living wage (i.e., local projects). It won't make much sense to fly someone in from India to save a couple dollars an hour on salary, will it?

Posted by: Kay D. | May 8, 2007 3:32 PM | Report abuse

"This will only do one thing. Cost taxpayers."

Jesus would want taxpayers to pay their fellow man a living wage for honest work. Why is that so hard to understand? Should you get lower taxes at the expense of a hard working individual? That's theft. We're not talking about welfare, we're talking about hard work. Pay them a living wage and don't gripe about it. That's the christian thing to do, yes, even if it means 5 dollars more a year in taxes. Otherwise you're telling a hard working able man that he's supposed to live in poverty for working hard. Pay those who work an honest wage. That's American. And the answer to outsourcing is not to cut the standards here. There are other ways. Don't buy or work with companies that outsource.

Posted by: DCAustinite | May 8, 2007 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Kay D. -

Apparently you didn't read very carefully.

I said "outsource... to other states", not "overseas".

Posted by: Frank_IBC | May 8, 2007 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Frank, I think she was referring to FLVet's comments.

Posted by: DCAustinite | May 8, 2007 3:45 PM | Report abuse

DCAu...so I have to pay out more, even though I am already paying almost 40% because I can't afford to own a home and I don't have children, so no write off for me. All that money goes to services, of which, I only use the roads because I have health insurance, so I don't rely on the state. I pay my own bills, again not relying on the state or the feds. So even though I am being a good `christian`, I have to give even more? 40% to the poor, 10% to my church, that leaves me 50%...isn't that fair? I do all the work and get half the rewards?

Posted by: AMG | May 8, 2007 3:50 PM | Report abuse

"Otherwise you're telling a hard working able man that he's supposed to live in poverty for working hard. Pay those who work an honest wage. That's American. And the answer to outsourcing is not to cut the standards here. There are other ways. Don't buy or work with companies that outsource."

I suggest then, DCaustinite, that you start giving every single person you interact with on a daily basis (waitor, host, taxi driver, Wal Mart greeter, hamburger flipper, groundskeeper, bus driver, street sweeper, baby sitter, etc...) a $5 tip EVERY DAY, because not a single one of them is making 50% over the minimum wage like workers impacted by this new Living Wage. If you don't start tipping these people, then they're going to start demanding higher compensation to match the Living Wage, meaning everything goes up (cost of goods and services), and we're sitting in the SAME PLACE 5 years from now with people not making enough money to buy the necessities of life.

Let's get reasonable here and adjust the minimum wage enough to get it above the poverty line, but reasonable enough for businesses to absorb the cost ($9.00/hour). Jumping wages 50% in one chunk is not going to solve ANYTHING. Liberals NEVER seem to understand the results of their beaurocratic over-regulation. The biggest problem of this is not the increase in minimum standards for paying workers on government contracts, but the massive increase (50%) in wages that will have to absorbed by someone, and the effect of the ripples to non-government sectors.

Posted by: Phillip Thoms | May 8, 2007 4:01 PM | Report abuse

I believe there is a companion bill that erects big signs along the Mexican border that say "COME TO MARYLAND !!"

Posted by: gitarre | May 8, 2007 4:02 PM | Report abuse

I was wondering how the Gov. was going to weasel out of building the ICC. With this new Living Wage, there's no way Maryland will be able to build this road with a 50% increase in wages. Way to go Mr. O'Malley. Let's go ahead and stop funding transportation altogether, because NOTHING is going to get built when a construction company has got to pay an unskiller laborer $11.30 per hour to build a highway.

Posted by: Peter Nistar | May 8, 2007 4:08 PM | Report abuse

They should start teaching economics in the first grade so that Democrats would stop doing stupid things such as this.

Of course, they'd be less likely to be Democrats and more likely to be able to support themselves.

Yes, companies will outsource more which means the jobs go away and more Marylanders have to cross state borders to go to work. Contract prices go up so tax rates get boosted and more business move away to neighboring states.

The Maryland Democrats just can't wreck their own economy fast enough!

Posted by: Rufus | May 8, 2007 4:10 PM | Report abuse

...And thanks to this, I will not be able to afford to provide my skilled laborers and equipment operators medical insurance because I have to pay guys coming off-the-truck and apprentices $11.30 to hold a shovel. BRILLIANT! Building something in the State of Maryland just got A LOT more expensive for the taxpayers!

Posted by: Peter Nistar | May 8, 2007 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Ahhh, anything to avoid your own personal responsibility. The free market will fix everything. Wonderful. Let's all agree to see how bad this is in 5 years.

Again, I live in New York City, which has had a livable wage law for years now, so my hot dog vendor, taxi driver, etc get a living wage. Again, didn't kill the businesses, my local taxi service was not outsourced to new jersey, and I pay my taxes and enjoy living in America, where if you work hard enough, theoretically you shouldn't fall through the cracks.

But again, you'll ignore a similar working model, instead telling me I should been educated in grade school or i'm a baby-eating 'liberal'. And Rufus, you're just a stupid, hateful person. You jumped into the middle of a conversation just to call me names, names you wouldn't dare say to my face. Coward.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 4:24 PM | Report abuse

DCAustinite, last time I checked, the US of A which Maryland is a part of doesn't recognize a state religion. You heard of that statute called the First Amendment to the US Constitution, it allows you to make moronic claims here on this blog as well.

Posted by: JC | May 8, 2007 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Forgot to sign the last one.

Philip Thomas:
waitor, host, taxi driver, Wal Mart greeter, hamburger flipper, groundskeeper, bus driver, street sweeper, baby sitter, etc...)

Waiters do make over that on tips, and i do tip well, I tip the taxi man, babysitter. Again, I live in a city with a livable wage law, that coincedentally has a robust unaffected economy and lots of independent small businesses. The money comes back to me as well because 6 dollars or 11 dollars they spend it all in my city and the tax revenues offset what I pay. So I ask you, did livable wage law bankrupt or ruin New York City? The veritable canary in the mineshaft?

Posted by: DCAustinite | May 8, 2007 4:27 PM | Report abuse

DCAustinite, last time I checked, the US of A which Maryland is a part of doesn't recognize a state religion. You heard of that statute called the First Amendment to the US Constitution, it allows you to make moronic claims here on this blog as well.

that's pretty retarded, dude. Where did i for one second suggest state religion? You're just throwing bombs because you can't win the actual argument. 'U S of A'? Are you for real? Why don't you just tell me 'If I don't like it so much I can move to Russia.' Hahahaha

Posted by: DCAustinite | May 8, 2007 4:29 PM | Report abuse

This is an incredibly passionate move by the Governor, but he cannot possibly see or understand the ramifications that this bill has created.

1. Unskilled laborers will no longer be used on Maryland contracts. This means that the push in the government to provide for the illegal imigrant population will take a serious hit. No contractor is going to hire an unskilled worker at the absurd rate of $11.30 per hour, which means illegals' work will be kept off the books, and even further hindered, or will no longer be used. In either case, illegal imigration was dealt a serious blow with a Living Wage.

2. Lawlessness among contractors will increase as cometitors will bid on contracts that they will not be able to fulfill, and the applications for cost overruns and add-ons will explode exponentially. This means that more enforcement and application reviewers will be needed, costing taxpayers more money, not to mention time delays on important projects.

3. With a budget crisis looming, Mr. O'Malley has more or less stated with this action that one of the most heavily taxed states in the United States will see significant tax increases in the next 5 years. EVERY state project will see an increased cost, and with out-of-control spending fleecing the state budget, the state will have no choice but to increase taxes (as much as 10% or more) to cover projects that have already been promised to taxpayers.

4. Increase wages to state contractors also means that other services will see increased labor costs. When XYZ Construction has to pay a laborer $11.30 to build a bathroom at a rest stop, they're going to have to pay that same laborer $11.30 to build a bathroom in your office. This means that general construction, services, and just about EVERY other member of the Maryland workforce will be making $11.30 per hour. This also means that skilled persons and technical persons will have to see an adjustment to demonstrate the proper differential between skilled and unskilled people. You can't have a crane operator with 25 years of experience making just $2 per hour more than the unskilled, inexperienced worker unloading supplies. One word explains this: INFLATION

There are many other affects of this, but it seems there's no turning back right now. Maryland may have just signed its death sentence, and taxpayers should probably start looking to move before the government has to deal with consequences of this irrational, but compasionate decision.

Posted by: Juan Aranguez | May 8, 2007 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Labor should be a function of supply and demand, not law. people with higher skills or better work ethics should be paid more. Minimum wages of any type just hurt those that are more skilled and thus more productive. When times are good more people work, tough times means fewer people working for lower wages - or they become more productive to justify their current wages.

This will only make it more expensive for the Gov to do what needs to be done. And if people earn a middle class salary for just showing up, where is the incentive to be more productive. Seems to me they would be just productive enough so as not to lose their job?

In a few years when we have a budget shortfall, those same people who are working for a minimum wage might not have a job at all? And in the meantime our taxes will go up? Who does this really benefit?

Posted by: craig.bellet | May 8, 2007 4:31 PM | Report abuse

"Minimum wages of any type just hurt those that are more skilled and thus more productive"

should those who are more skilled and more productive advance far beyond the brackets of minimum wage, or arguing that pay raises and paying skilled people are so flat one can never hope to get there?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Meaning that if the shovel holder gets $11.30 an hour then the Company owner has much less discretion what he can pay his skilled workers and still be competative. If I am one of the skilled workers, I should be paid what my skills are worth. By creating an accross the board minimum wage, you also limit the maximum wage. You only need to look at most "union" type pay scales to see this in action. I have known very skilled electrical workers that are getting paid the same as 1st year journeyman (some of which were barely able to perform to basic standards), because the union negiotated the same pay for everyone regardless of skill level. I know this is somewhat of a generalization as I haven't analyzed every union contract currently in force, but you see my point?

Posted by: craig.bellet | May 8, 2007 4:46 PM | Report abuse

DCAustinite, that's fine if you make enough money to do that, but this Living Wage is going to squeeze the middle class that cannot afford to pay higher fees, teaxes, and tips in Maryland. I've been to New York, and I can barely afford to visit there, let alone live there. I used to enjoy living in a place where I could afford the simple luxuries of life, I don't want to live in a place like New York where I have to work 60 hours a week at $20 per hour to afford a 1 bedroom apartment. Your New York arguement does not work, and if Marylanders want to be like New York, they should just live up there for a year and see what it's like to spend $100 a day on food, $50 a day on transporation, $50 a day on entertainment, etc... If you ask a New Yorker on the street, many would tell you that they are underpaid. That's because everything there costs so much, and the Lving Wage will have to continuously adjusted upward to offset inflation. All New York is doing is creating an artificial inflation "bubble" that is good locally, but bad nationally (just ask someone to move from Charlotte, NC, or anywhere else where wages are close to the national averages, to NYC and see if they can afford to make that move on a "middle class" income).

The problem is that it did not bankrupt the city of New York, but it did create a micro-economy that is 200% inflated to the rest of the country. From a national standpoint, we should be trying to keep things stable, not create pockets of inflation that only the most-privilaged and already entrenched residents can continue to live in.

Posted by: Phillip | May 8, 2007 4:48 PM | Report abuse

"Your New York arguement does not work, and if Marylanders want to be like New York, they should just live up there for a year and see what it's like to spend $100 a day on food, $50 a day on transporation, $50 a day on entertainment, etc... If you ask a New Yorker on the street, many would tell you that they are underpaid."

Good lord you got robbed. If you want to live in the ritz-carlton, Ok, but otherwise the prices are comparable to DC. I spend less a day on transportation here than I did in Virginia, far less, food is the same, supplies can cost a little more but not that much. the only difference is rent, whichreally only applies to manhattan and that's a product of limited space and 11 million people not livable wage. 6 bucks or 11 you can't suddenly afford Manhattan. And if you asked the average person anywhere they would tell you that they're underpaid.

"The problem is that it did not bankrupt the city of New York, but it did create a micro-economy that is 200% inflated to the rest of the country."

you really, really, really believe that livable wage law is what made things expensive in NYC? Really? And just because you paid 6 bucks for a hot dog when you visited does not make you an expert on cost of living here. 200% inflated? You're just making that up.

"DCAustinite, that's fine if you make enough money to do that"

what on earth makes you think I'm not smack dab in the middle of the middle class?

Posted by: DCAustinite | May 8, 2007 5:00 PM | Report abuse

"Meaning that if the shovel holder gets $11.30 an hour then the Company owner has much less discretion what he can pay his skilled workers and still be competative. If I am one of the skilled workers, I should be paid what my skills are worth. By creating an accross the board minimum wage, you also limit the maximum wage. "

now that actually makes some sense. I could see how that would happen, and it's certainly a risk, I would just say in the end I think the benefits outweigh the risks. But I see your point.

Posted by: DCAustinite | May 8, 2007 5:03 PM | Report abuse

One person's middle class is another person's upper or lower class. I'm not going to ask how much you make, but I'll tell you that my wife and I gross just under $90k combined, and we have trouble making ends meet in DC. I have friends that live in NYC that make twice what my family pulls and are in a similar financial situation (hence my 200% inflation figure). Additionally, I have friends living in other parts of the country making half of what I make, also in similar financial situations. Trust me, I would love to tip people above and beyond, and pay more taxes for a higher quality of life for everyone, but this Living Wage is going to inflate the salaries of unskilled and underskilled workers, while someone with training and experience, like myself will see in small adjustment in my pay to compensate, but the increase in taxes and prices for most goods will drown me. As we speak, I'm already talking to my wife about moving out of this area for good!

Posted by: Phil | May 8, 2007 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Well I hope you don't have to move.

Posted by: DCAustinite | May 8, 2007 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Say goodbye to affordable eduction, affordable real estate, affordable medical care. Someone should not get paid $11.30 an hour to tote a shovel!! This increase is ABSURD!! 10% or 20% over minimum wage maybe, but 50% GOOD GRIEF!!!!

Sign me up to do work for the State of Maryland. I can make more money working for the state that I do managing a department store. If an unskilled person is getting $11.30, I want $50/hour for my $50k bachelors degree that won't be paid in full until 2030.

Posted by: John Isbister | May 8, 2007 5:29 PM | Report abuse

I'll have no choice. At least the out of control real estate market will afford me some equity to buy a house somewhere else. The State of Maryland already takes 10% of my family's income, the feds take another 22%, and the county takes 10% (5% from my income and another 5% for real estate). 30% of my income goes towards my conventional mortgage, while I put 10% into savings and retirement. That leaves 18% of my income (a little over $16k) for food, entertainment, education investment, utilities, emergencies, investment, etc... Raise that state tax to 15% and another 2.5% increase for real estate and county increases, which MAY be offset by 1.5% COLAs over the next 5 years. I'm sorry, but I'm outta here. I don't know how the middle class of this state can stand it without going tens of thousands of dollars into debt.

Posted by: Phil | May 8, 2007 5:41 PM | Report abuse

To Frank_IBC: It doesn't matter, anyway, because if the contract is done for Maryland in the D.C.-Baltimore corridor, the workers could live in Wyoming, but so long as they're doing work on a project in the D.C.-Baltimore corridor, they would still be entitled to the living wage.

What I want to know is this: Are there any posters to this discussion that actually earn $11.30 or less per hour? My guess would be no. I earn more than three times that wage per hour, and I can tell you that after mortgage, utilities, gas and a few other necessities, it doesn't leave me with a fortune at the end of the month. I can't imagine trying to make ends meet on less than a third of my current salary. I'm sure most of you out there cannot imagine that either. So why begrudge honest, hard-working people an honest wage?

Posted by: Kay D. | May 8, 2007 5:43 PM | Report abuse

I don't begrudge people making $11.30/hour, but they should earn it like I did. I started at $8.50/hour three years ago, and have worked hard to learn skills and techniques to get my wage up to $13.00/hour. Now these guys will come in not knowing a screwdriver from a hammer and making almost as much as I am. Will I see an adjustment, yes, in the amount of my insurance premiums because my company will have to offset the costs of paying newbies as much as skilled workers. It must be nice Kay D. to make $35/hour, I guess if your perfect world everyone would make the same amount of money regardless of skill, intelligence, or talent.

Posted by: Roger | May 8, 2007 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Kay D.:

Why don't we just make the Living Wage $35/hour? If you don't have a "fortune" at the end of the month after all of your expenses, then what makes you think these workers don't also have expenses?

Oh, that's right, because if someone laying bricks got paid $35/hour, then Kay D. in her cushy desk job would have to get paid $100/hour, and the boss she works for would get paid $200/hour, and the CEO that runs the company would get paid $3000/hour, and the $1 widget would cost everyone $3.

ECONOMICS PEOPLE. You cannot expect to raise wages 50% in one penstroke and not expect consequences. The Living Wage is a fine idea, but to impose an instant 50% increase in a large chunk of the labor costs is completely unreasonable. This should have been done incrementally with a maximum 5% increase each year. Try swallowing a 50% tax increase in one year, and see how you like it!!

Posted by: Timothy Neisan | May 8, 2007 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Nothing like the good ol' Peoples Republic of Maryland. Hey, I was wondering, next time I cross a busy street, can Mr. O'Malley hold my had for me?

Posted by: Berube | May 8, 2007 6:05 PM | Report abuse

And who's going to pay for all this vote-fetching benevolence? We are? Gosh, THAT'S a surprise.

Posted by: Clete | May 8, 2007 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Absurd to think that costs and unemployment will not rise as a result of this. Absurd to think that contractors will not seek out other venues for to ply their trade. How can you think that this is a good thing -- it will mean that housing will prices will increase with no rise in true market value to offset the inflated price, it will mean contractors hiring less and taking longer to do work which could have been completed faster if more laborers were hired, and it will mean more taxes paid by you and me in the long run.

While it might be all well and good to pay employees more -- does anyone take into account the costs associated with this wage increase. This is not just higher wages, this is increased payroll taxes and healthcare costs not to mention the insurance premiums that are sure to rise as a result of the increase in contract costs. You can not single out labor costs alone!

As a life long resident of Montgomery County I should be used to seeing Governors from Baltimore destroy the state but this goes beyond absurdity and straight to insanity. I still can not believe that the residents of this state elected this Governor -- we see how little he did in Baltimore. It is still the most crime infested city with the largest heroine use rates and STDs rates per capita.

This is not a day to be a proud Marylander -- this is a day you will recall as the end of the free market and the beginning of the Socialistic State of Maryland.

Posted by: Flabbergasted | May 8, 2007 7:16 PM | Report abuse

To Mr. Neisan -- It's a shame that there can't be a more rational discussion of a good, solid law that will help many people in the long run. Please keep in mind that this is not a law that is going to impact the vast majority of the work force in this area. This law will impact only those laborers working for government contractors that do not currently earn a minimum of $11.30/hour. You are forgetting that a great many of the people working on government contracted work sites are already earning far above the $11.30/hour living wage. In fact, many of them are earning 4 to 5 times that much as skilled laborers. The effect of paying the lowest earners a living wage will not be to bankrupt a government contractor. It will be to help workers earn a fairer wage to support themselves and their families.

As for your nonsensical assumption that a bricklayer should make less than me, I have no idea where you come up with such a ridiculous notion. I am quite certain that there are many bricklayers/masons that make considerably more than $35/hour, and I would never suggest that they deserve to earn any less than me, nor that I should earn a higher salary than anyone else. Please do not make such absurd and insupportable statements. They really don't advance your argument at all.

As for all of these doomsday predictions that the government contracting business will be driven into bankruptcy in no time at all, that is also an absurd and insupportable argument. A great deal of money is made by government contractors. They are not exactly making pennies on the dollar in their business! In fact, quite a few government contractors are some of the most profitable corporations in this country. The impact on these contractors of having to pay a living wage will not be so burdensome that it will drive them out of the business or drive the taxpayers of Maryland into astronomical debt.

Posted by: Kay D. | May 8, 2007 7:35 PM | Report abuse

Alright, everyone. Take a deep breath and try to relax. Why is it that laws that actually do some good to help people must be thought of as "socialistic" or communistic? Laws that actually help people by improving their quality of life are a good thing. Especially when those laws properly reward people for holding down a job.

Remember, we already have a federal minimum wage law, which is a good thing. But in the Maryland-D.C.-Virginia area, the cost of living is considerably higher than in, say, a small town in Nebraska. The federal minimum wage earned by a Maryland family's primary wage earner is not sufficient to support a family of 3 or 4. The economic realities of our neck of the woods is that this is a wealthy area. It takes quite a bit of money to buy a house in this area, not to mention doing all the other things that it takes just to live. Taking the Metro to and from work each day can cost as much as $10/day. That's a lot of money!

This is a day to be a proud Marylander. Our governor and legislature have passed a law that actually works for the people, as opposed to working against them. This new law will not:

(1) affect the real estate market by driving up the cost of housing (how could it possibly have that effect?);

(2) result in a rise in unemployment (government contractors make far too much money to abandon projects in the State of Maryland because a living wage is mandated);

(3) cause our real estate or income taxes to rise dramatically;

(4) negatively impact the quality of life of Marylanders (in fact, it will improve the quality of life for those that the law intended).

Please stop being so irrational about this law. We're talking about a mere $11.30/hour for a small percentage of workers working on government contracts. The vast majority of workers on these contracted sites already earn far above the $11.30/hour minimum. This just brings the lowest paid earners up to a decent wage. And since these contracts are bid out by the State of Maryland, you have to remember that most Maryland State employees earn far above $11.30/hour. So it is only fitting that workers of a government contractor should earn a decent wage, as well.

Posted by: Kay D. | May 8, 2007 7:54 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if there is a program in place to measure the effectiveness of this legislation or is it just the usual "pass it because it sounds good" stuff like so much of what is done by the MD Legislature.

Posted by: Richard | May 8, 2007 8:45 PM | Report abuse

No one can live on $11.30 an hour, if he/she has to pay rent or mortgage, that is, unless he/she lives with someone else. Not even a laborer. Be fair, boss man.

Posted by: BlueSue | May 8, 2007 9:01 PM | Report abuse

good points Kay D. Others are blinded by their political agenda.

All this law says is that the State of Maryland is willing to pay workers a minimum amount (plus overhead) for future contracts.

If you are bidding on a contract, plan to pay your people at least $11.30/hour and apply your overhead as appropriate.

This actually frees up more money for higher paid employees because the lower paids will shoulder a larger part of the company's fixed overhead.

One example is the CEO's salary. Another is the cost of proposal preparation. Those activities and others are paid for by applying a "management overhead" percentage to billed wages.

A high wage employee shoulders a large dollar amount. This will shrink as the management overhead is reapportioned across the workforce.

This is a little bit technical and those of you who are arguing from your political agenda will not understand.

This is a good law. Accept that.

Posted by: tchtic | May 9, 2007 6:06 AM | Report abuse

Good grief, people, get a grip. McDonalds pays more than minimum wage (around $9 hr at some) so it really isn't going to hurt anyone. Also, these are state contracts we're talking about. Maybe when they see how well it works then they can go state wide. I am sure there is plenty of profit margin built into those contracts.

Posted by: dancermommd | May 9, 2007 6:59 AM | Report abuse

"And Rufus, you're just a stupid, hateful person. You jumped into the middle of a conversation just to call me names, names you wouldn't dare say to my face. Coward."

And you are such a paragon of bravery that you made an anonymous post. Such is the way of the cowardly Leftists who only needs to find a brain and a heart as well as his courage.

Posted by: Rufus | May 9, 2007 7:26 AM | Report abuse

This is good news for the folks in the more rural districts as the contractors will shift a lot more of the assembly work to their areas where they have to pay less and only have to pay the higher wages for assembly.

Good news for Western Maryland and the Eastern Shore but it's bend-over time for Baltimore City, Montgomery and PG.

Posted by: Rufus | May 9, 2007 7:36 AM | Report abuse

It's clear Kay D. doesn't work in construction, and doesn't understand how state contract bidding works. To state "most workers are already making over $11.30/hour" is completely false. As a foreman, I know, because I interview potential employees, and know how much certain possitions pay. As a matter of fact, most unskilled workers in construction get paid in the $8-$10 range depending on their experience. In fact, we employee apprentice masons, surveyors, and operators that start at $10/hour. We utilize apprentices to help spread out costs as it is, since licensed craftsmen are 2-3 times the cost. We are forced to employ many unskilled laborers and apprentices to be able to competitively bid on state contracts because the state is very demanding and competition is fierce, especially from unscrupulous contractors that keep 10-20% of their labor force off the books (illegals). I was using hyperbole to try to show that if you decide to start paying a non-skilled laborer $11.30/hour, than the apprentice surveyor, operator, and mason now has to be paid $15/hour, and the foreman will now has to be paid $25/hour, the project manager will get paid $75/hour, etc... If you think this will not effect EVERYONE, than you're fooling yourself, and if you think the effect will be miniscule because it will only apply to government contracts, your an idiot. If I am paying a laborer $11.30 to work on a highway project, I will have no choice but to pay that same laborer $11.30 to work on a private parking lot. Additionally, if I'm paying someone $11.30 to sweep up the trash in my construction trailer, that same person will expect to get paid $11.30 to sweep up trash in YOUR office. From the construction side our choices are to bid a fiar amount based on these new rules, and lose out on work because of the many immoral companies that keep labor costs down and off the books, or join in the mass to stay competitive by employing more undocumented people who can be kept off the books and work for less than the Living Wage requires. These workers would then replace the legitimate workers trying to earn an honest living and propogates the problem of illegal immigration to mammoth proportions. In either case, we all lose, and it costs EVERYONE in the end.

You are correct that a great deal of money is made on government contracts by firms, and it's typically referred to as the "bread and butter" of our portfolio. However, as far into the black as a company goes on a government contract typically come close to matching the amount of red the company takes on more-demanding private-sector work. It's just a fact of life. A contractor has a lot easier time tacking on that extra $100k to a government contract for cost overruns than it does adding it to a private company that is also looking out for its own bottom line.

Please do not make assumptions on an industry you obviously know NOTHING about. I also understand that there are contracts outside the construction realm, and many of those workers make well over the Living Wage of $11.30/hour, but you're CRAZY to believe that a web developer with $50k of student loans knowing that an un-skilled laborer is making half of what they're making with NO EDUCATION, is not going to want a significant increase in their pay as well. Let's get real here people...You can't get something for nothing. THERE ARE ALWAYS CONSEQUENCES!!!

Posted by: Tim Neisan | May 9, 2007 9:58 AM | Report abuse

"We're talking about a mere $11.30/hour for a small percentage of workers working on government contracts. The vast majority of workers on these contracted sites already earn far above the $11.30/hour minimum"

Kay D., did you actually read the story about this law? The story said that at least 50,000 workers would be directly affected by this law. That doesn't even include the vast number of workers making near the $11.30 Living Wage that would have to be adjusted also. Considering the number of people actively working on state government contracts in a given year, I would postulate that 50,000+ would NOT constitute a "small percentage." Let's get out of happyland and talk about reality here. Are workers underpaid in this state? ABSOLUTELY!!! They're underpaid in EVERY state, and the federal minimum wage has been due for an adjustment to $8.00/hour for a long time now, but we all know where the heads of our federal government are. However, you just cannot say that an employer all of a sudden now has to pay a new unskilled laborer almost twice what he was getting paid last week for the same work and not see ANY consequenses of this action. Money doesn't grow on trees, and that money will either come from larger bid amounts on the contracts (likely higher taxes or fewer projects sponsored by state funds), longer timetables for project completion (more interest on state sponsored bonds), fewer workers used on contracts (higher unemployment), fewer beneits for all workers (higher insurance premiums, lower retirement benefits), and lower wages and fewer increases for more skilled workers (less money for the experiences, hard-working, established employees). If Joe Bob employer was paying Steve the shoveler $6.50, Tom the concrete pourer $8.50, Nick the shorer $11.00, Jim the rivoter $13.00, and John the truck driver $18.00. With this new law, Joe Bob must now pay Steve $11.30, Tom $11.80, Nick $14.00, Jim $16.00, and John $22.00. That's an increased labor cost of $18.10/hour for just a sampling of five employees. Spread that out over a large job with hundreds of workers, and you're looking at tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Where do you suppose that money is coming from? It's not coming out of my company's bottom line, it's coming out of the state budget, which is funded by taxes.

Additionally, These 50,000 workers on state contracts now will expect that $11.30 for all other work they do, and employers not competing for state contracts will have no choice but to comply to get competent labor, and the entire situation snowballs all the way up the chain causing inflation across the board. Will this happen immediately, probably not, but within 3-5 years, this Living Wage Law will have negatively impacted just about EVERY resident of the state.

Posted by: Thomas Harkins | May 9, 2007 11:05 AM | Report abuse

"If you are bidding on a contract, plan to pay your people at least $11.30/hour and apply your overhead as appropriate."

That's all well and good, but if you were billing a laborer's rate at $20/hour and paying bum $8/hour ($12 of overhead), that means if you have to pay the laborer $11.30, then you only have $8.70/hour over overhead to cover training, benefits, management, supplies, incidentals, bonuses, workers comp, liability insurance, legal counsel, electricity, and on and on. An employer then has the choice of taking the hit to their overhead, meaning that something must be cut (likely benefits, training, incidentals, or bonuses), or that worker will have to bill at a higher rate (increased contract costs to the state). Will contract costs increase the same percentage as this Living Wage, no, because indeed some of the costs can be absorbed by the companies through strealining. However, there's only so much streamlining that can be done before the cost is passed directly to the consumer, who, in this case, is the State of Maryland, and ultimately the taxpayers. tchtic does a good job explaining how contracting works, but they are sadly mistaken to think that companies can absorb such a large increase in their labor costs without either charging more for their services, reducing the number of employees, or reducing company-wide benefits and services.

On the surface, this seems like it's such a great idea to compensate people so that they can live comfortably, but by increasing wages so dramatically, companies bidding on state contracts will have NO CHOICE but to pass the costs of the Living Wage onto the citizens of Maryland.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 9, 2007 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Contractors are selected based on the lowest bidder. As contracts come up for bid they will all build the costs for unskilled labor into their bids. The government selects the best one, and that is not always based on the low bidder, but other factors like skill and experience. The winning bidder will not face a hardship because they have to pay a living wage. Contracts might cost the government more, but that difference can easily be made up for in better contract management to prevent abuse and overruns. That's where the taxpayer gets hit. In any case, the government isn't going to raise taxes just to pass the difference on to taxpayers.

What gets me is many of these people trying to cover up what's really on their minds with economic arguments don't have a problem with what's going on in Iraq, with respect to contracting. Many projects that were completed there were so shoddily done that they are literally falling apart and are useless. Contractors with political connections are walking off with billions in taxpayer funds, with no accountability (early on Bush issued an executive order that relaxed reporting requirements for contractors in Iraq, and prevented auditing!). Billions of dollars are unaccounted for in Iraq, and yet these people have their shorts in a bunch over paying unskilled workers $11.30/hr. It would be comical if the implications and intent behind their arguments weren't so tragic.

If they were truly concerned about the taxpayer being hit to make up for higher contract costs, these same people should be camped out in Lafayette Square in protest over contract abuses in Iraq. If this became federal law, the increase would not even approach the amount of money that has gone unaccounted for in Iraq, in one year, let alone the entire time.

We can turn a blind eye to people scamming taxpayers out of billions in Iraq, but we get up in arms over paying someone who's doing any honest days work, a few more dollars an hour for it.

Is anything is never too bad for those at the lower end of the scale?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 9, 2007 12:11 PM | Report abuse

I could reply with a lengthy argument, but I think the smartest thing was said earlier. Business will always be there if there is a profit to be made. Business will still profit handsomely, even if they have to chip in some extra money to their employees. Maryland is no different from any place else in the US. If it worked for NYC, it will work fine here. All of this vitrol and alarm seems pretty baseless.

Posted by: InMoCo | May 9, 2007 12:12 PM | Report abuse

It is not the governments job to legislate wages. That is my belief in its simplist form. I also wonder:

What is/makes a "living wage"? How does one come with the appropriate figure, how much is too little, how much is too much?

Will government decide someday that certain wages are too high and legislate a maximum?

Dcaustinite writes: "Jesus would want taxpayers to pay their fellow man a living wage for honest work. Why is that so hard to understand? Should you get lower taxes at the expense of a hard working individual? That's theft."
Second thing first, this statement, that "lower taxes at the expense of a hard working individual? That's theft." is a jaw dropper. Say I make 20k, 30k, 40k whatever K a year...do you agree that that is money I have earned, it belongs to me? I'm hoping we all say "yes". Ok, now I pay taxes on that, so my actual take home is less, but the taxes I paid are paid with money I have earned, that belonged to me, are we still in agreement? So how is paying a lower tax, keeping back more of my own money that i earned, that belongs to me, how can that be Theft?

Second:
I don't quite get the Jesus argument. Charity best belongs in the private sector, we give freely of our own will and goodness, to the church, to charities, to the community. Coming from taxes makes it forced, and I don't believe Jesus does want that, actually.

Posted by: LizM | May 9, 2007 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Neisan -- No, I may not be in the construction business, but I know many people who are, including my own family members. I have a brother who is a roofer, and he gets paid a minimum of $25/hour on contracted sites. He often times gets paid much more than that when he works as a subcontractor. On his own privately-bid jobs, my brother pays his unskilled laborers $15/hour. A very good friend is a construction foreman who earns far more than I. Yes, there are many skilled laborers working at contracted sites who make far more than the mandated $11.30/hour. That's just common sense. It makes me wonder what you actually know about the construction business. So please do not speak of things that you know nothing of.

You apparently are a person who believes that by typing his insults in capital letters that you feel you've made a valid point. Please rest assured that you have not, and your arguments are uncompletely unfounded. In fact, you spend so much time contradicting yourself that it's hard to imagine who you're arguing with -- yourself or people who disagree with you. As an example, you earlier posted that this law will bring about an immediate "50% increase in a large chunk of the labor costs." But in your latest post, you readily admit that "most unskilled workers in construction get paid in the $8-$10 range." Using the median range of $9/hour, the new living wage represents only an average of a 25% increase. And yet you still cannot acknowledge that the vast majority of workers at contracted site are earning far more than $11.30/hour at this very moment.

As for how this living wage will affect private business, you posit that mandating a living wage will suddenly bring about a drastic rise in wages paid to unskilled laborers in the private sector. You couldn't be more wrong. Simply because there is a mandated living wage on government contracted work sites in the Baltimore-D.C. corridor does not mean that there will be an automatic increase in every person's wages. And it is ridiculous to suggest such a thing. In most businesses, if the market demands a pay increase for a specific type of worker, that does not immediately mean that every other worker in the industry automatically gets a pay raise. Take the post-9/11 workplace in general. Just because firms felt it necessary to increase their security personnel and hire more specialized security experts -- thus increasing the demand and salary for those workers -- it did not mean that every receptionist, secretary, manager, etc. got an increase in pay.

Please learn something about the free market and how it operates before you attempt to disparage other people. And please, try to remember that you're dealing with a quality of life issue for people who earn a very low wage. It is only fair and appropriate that people get paid a wage on which they and their family can actually live. You act as though this living wage law is an act of treason.

Posted by: Kay D. | May 9, 2007 1:19 PM | Report abuse

It is also interesting to note that, as badly as oil companies -- such as ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, etc. -- are bilking the American public out of hundreds of billions of dollars every year in dishonest profits, businesses are not dropping like flies. No one can disagree that the cost of doing business in the last 7 years has gone up drastically based on the rising cost of gasoline alone. However, all of that increased expense due to outrageous, falsely inflated gasoline prices has not brought Corporate America to its knees. It also has not brought the average American to his/her knees. Every day, Americans are faced with rising costs of living. Yes, we know that it's happening, and no, we don't like it. However, we absorb those costs and move on. A living wage will not have a more deleterious effect on Corporate America or the American public than the outrageous cost of gasoline has had these last 7 years.

Posted by: Kay D. | May 9, 2007 1:32 PM | Report abuse

KayD we've been underpaying for gas for years upon years. Times are going to change and government is going to come to you for more and more.

Posted by: FLvet | May 9, 2007 3:04 PM | Report abuse

This notion of "underpaying" for gas is a complete fallacy. And any comparison between the European or Asian markets to our own is like comparing apples and motorcycles. We have not been underpaying for gas. We have been paying a fair American market price. What is not fair is oil companies each making tens of billions of dollars in profits every year (to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars in profits each year industry-wide) at the expense of hardworking Americans. How else do you explain these unheard of record-setting profits? There is nothing fair about the retail price of gas more than doubling in the last 7 years while oil companies purposely hold down refinery capacities. Of course, with a Republican-led Congress and a Big Oil beholden White House, I didn't really expect anything to be done about it. Now it's time for the Democrats to step up to the plate and make sure that the oil companies stop robbing the American public blind.

Posted by: Kay D. | May 9, 2007 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Kay D. just cannot stop spewing her liberal, welfare-state, socialist talking points. She speaks about a free market economy, but applauds government regulation. Talk about contradicting yourself. A true free market economy should require NO regulation, because competition, supply/demand, and other moarket forces will determine what wages, prices, and profits/losses are tolerable. She also spouts off that this will not affect many people when it will directly affect over 50,000 contracted workers according to the report. If these lower wage workers are not making enough money, no one is forcing them to take jobs below what it costs them to live their lives. Why should the government create an artifical limits in a supposed "free market" economy? I'm not forcing these workers to work for $6, $7, $8 per hour. They make that choice when they come to my office looking for a job. I pay them a rate equivalent to what their work is worth to my company. That state has no business telling me how much an employee's work is worth to me. When is enough enough? I wonder if Kay D. ever worked an hourly, entry level, laborer's job to know how things work. I personally feel that $11.30 (plus training, benefits, insurance, etc...) is an absurd amount of money to pay someone to do menial labor, which requires no skill, no education, and no experience. I don't care how much you like them, or how much you want them to succeed. A guy shoveling dirt does not deserve to make as much as a guy with a high school diploma selling car insurance over the phone. That's yet another big problem with this law. We have an educated work force that works hard to earn their $13-$18 per hour with their high school diploma or associates degree, and now Martin O'Malley decides anyone with a head on their shoulders can earn $11.30/hour working on a state project. What does that say to our young people? OK son, I guess you can just drop out of high school and work for some construction company with your 1400 SAT scores because you'll make more money with Martin O'Malley's Living Wage then you'll make over the next 10 years going to college for 4 years and paying off those student loans at $20 an hour for some consultant in the next six years. Not only that, but just to hire someone for a one month job, I pay over $10,000 to bring that person on board in administrative costs, health care, OSHA training, corporate orientation, drug and alcohol training, pre-work physical, etc... Before that guy sets foot onto my jobsite I'm already in the hole big time (not even including attrition), and now the state mandates what I have to pay him $11.30/hour before he is even compitent on performing his job, give me a break. I'd like to see Kay D. pay someone $11.30/hour (a reasonable employer, such as myself would offer an $8.00/hour starting wage for the first few months of employment---some employers start new employees at $6.50) to stand around for two weeks just learning how to perform a job (meaning someone else now making at least $11.30 is actually performing the job). Where, I ask you Kay D., are we supposed to come up with this extra money? Please enlighten me with your pie-in-the-sky fantasy ways where I am supposed to find this money. This doesn't even come close to capturing the costs of having to pay skilled laborers more to compensate for their unskilled co-workers making almost the same amount as their skilled counterparts. The State of Maryland has no place dictating how much it costs to live in this area just because its uncontrolled economic growth has made this area virtually unlivable for lower wage earners in the first place. They've reaped what they've sown, and the Maryland taxpayers will be forced to deal with this decision with their wallets.

BTW, oil company profits are not up because of the price of gasoline, they are up because of the speculative market and reduction of exploration, tightening of reserves, and purposeful reduction of refining capacity. Most Big Oil has gotten out of retail business and most of their efforts have been focused on exploration and refining. If an oil company projects their budget to be balanced for a fiscal year, and the oil market explodes with prices increase 10%-20% in a quarter, of course Big Oil is going to make record profits. Your Big Oil analogy is not really relavent, however, the Iraq contracting point is very poingant. It is true that contracting in Iraq has been a disaster, and many big companies have made enough money to buy small countries, but that does not mean that we should institute a Living Wage.

Posted by: Tim Neisan | May 9, 2007 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Neisan -- Do you actually believe what you write? If so, that is pathetically sad. You live in a world that is not the least bit clouded by facts or the realities of the world. The fact is that America is a country made up of three branches of government -- the Legislative, Judicial and Executive Branches. Each of these branches does their part to make this country the great country that it is. Having laws -- or as you like to call it, government regulation -- to ensure that workers are paid a fair price is a necessity in this country. Hence, the federal minimum wage. Other government regulation is a necessity, as well.

As for your statement that "[a] true free market economy should require NO regulation, because competition, supply/demand, and other moarket forces will determine what wages, prices, and profits/losses are tolerable," just remember that no regulation is also the surest way for corporations to take advantage of the public, yourself included.

As for your repeated concerns that the 50,000 workers that will benefit from the living wage mandate is an extremely high number, please do some research. 50,000 workers in the Baltimore-D.C. corridor is approximately 3% of the population of the Baltimore-D.C. corridor. 3% of 100% is a small percentage.

As for your lack of understanding of why oil companies are making astronomical profits, it is more than obvious that you are willing to ingest the pablum that is conservative talking points, and then vomit it back up as though it is actually fact. If you are willing to buy into some cockamamie bull about how oil companies have nothing to do with spiking gas prices to line their own pockets, and that the price of a gallon of gas is beyond the control of oil companies, feel free. The fact, however, is that gasoline prices are artificially high because the oil companies spike the prices constantly. It's no coincidence that gasoline prices fell drastically a short period before the November 2006 elections, but then immediately started increasing again after the elections.

Your drivel is the stuff that propaganda is made of. You can bluster all you want about how terrible this law is, but I guess that at the end of the day you'll just have to accept the fact that this is your reality. Welcome to it! I'm proud that Governor O'Malley signed into law a mandate that will benefit 50,000 workers. I wish that it could have helped 500,000 people. 50,000 people that will be glad to earn a decent living wage. Kudos to them!!!!! I hope they and their families enjoy every penny of it. And if it is at your expense, and even more importantly, that them earning a decent wage makes you miserable, then I guess it is just that much sweeter for all of us!!!!! Enjoy the new law, Mr. Neisan!!!!!!

Posted by: Kay D. | May 9, 2007 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Ok I read a bunch of these posts and you are all talking about a per hour rate easy way around would be to say ok shovel holder we have 30 days to finish this job you get paid $3000 if we are done in 30 days after that there is a penalty of $50 a day past that. Pay by the job stuff would get done quicker. Give them a bonus if they finish early and everyone is happy. Not paid by the hour.

Posted by: jmcc | May 10, 2007 1:48 AM | Report abuse

Great...so now I'll get to see all those guys that are supposed to be getting paid to build a road but, instead, I always see sitting around running off at the jaw (while ONE guy actually works) getting paid MORE to sit around on their duffs running their mouths. Perfect. And we wonder why these government contracts are never completed on time.

So while I'm working at my store...where I am a MANAGER...busting my hump for my measly $7.65 an hour, someone holding one of those "Stop/Slow" signs is going to be standing around making $8.50 or $11.30 an hour? My husband and I both work, have 2 kids, and are not remotely making ends meet. Why can't there be a minimum wage increase for the average worker in the state? The cost of living has gone up in this state. Because power companies were stupid, we, the consumers, are now getting blasted with 50-70% (and possibly more in the near future) rate increases, but I don't see Mr. O'Malley (sorry...I refuse to call him Governor) doing anything to help me.

I guess this is an example of what happens when the majority of voters choose a man that claims he lowered the rate of violent crime in Baltimore, yet Baltimore STILL has one of the highest murder rates in the country.

Bravo, people. Bravo.

Posted by: Didn't vote 4 him | May 10, 2007 1:50 AM | Report abuse

Kay D., you just proved my point...You state that 50,000 people in the Baltimore-Washington corridor constitutes about 3% of the population. While that may on the surface seem insignificant, what percentage of the people living in the corridor actually work on state government projects? If we assume 30% of the population is not of working age (children and elderly) and we take a rather generous estimate that half of the workers in the region work on private sector work while the other half work on state government contracts, that means about 35% of the population living in the corridor actively work on government projects. Doing some quick rough math here, that means that about 10% of the people working on state contracts would be directly affected by this law...That means 10% of the people working on state contracts that currently make under the newly required $11.30/hour, and would be directly affected by the Living Wage. Is 10% significant enough for you??? That doesn't even account for the additional people making at or slightly above the Living Wage that would now need an adjustment to differentiate skilled and experienced workers from the unskilled and inexperienced. So, I ask you again Kay D., where are we supposed to come up with this money? Should we take away from the benefits that we provide workers, should we reduce the wages of experienced workers to compensate for the increased wages of the inexperienced, or should we charge the state more money for the same amount of work? Mr. O'Malley has not considered the affects of this law, and how much it will truly cost, and the bottom-line affect on average people. It's not so much the concept, but the extreme level ($11.30/hour) that has been set that will dramatically effect business in the state. It's all well and good to pay people more money, but in the end, the money has got to come from somewhere.


I do execute some contracts for Big Oil companies in the Mid-Atlantic region in addition to a lot of my state work, and you just don't get it Kay D. I see what's happening in the structure of the oil companies, and you just see the numbers on the price board. If you took a moment to take your rose colored glasses off and see reality for just a moment you would understand that Big Oil does not sell gasoline to consumers anymore. Retail is a losing business for the oil companies since only 2-3 cents is made per gallon on the sale of gasoline in the wholesale market. Most retail stations make far more money off the sale of carwhashes, sode, and snacks, than they do on actually selling gasoline. The profits of gasoline are made in refining and exploration, which is why most Big Oil no longer sells gasoline directly to consumers. Sure, you pull up to an Exxon, Shell, or BP station to get your gas, but 9 times out of 10, those stations are owned, operated, and supplied by regional or local owner/operators. Those owners purchase the right to use the Big Oil brand on their station, but the company listed on the sign often has no bearing on the business conducted at that station. Big Oil does frequently operate storage terminals, pipelines, and in some cases transports fuel to individual retail sites, but as far as controlling the price you pay at the pump, that is done by natural market forces and regional petroleum conglomerates, not Big Oil. You use the reduction of gas prices in Novmeber 2006 to prove your point, but fail to understand that there is a natural reduction of prices at the end of the 3rd quarter because supplies of already blended summer fuels must be sold to prepare for the switchover to winter blends (a trend that can be seen in prices EVERY year since the 90's when differing blends were required). I could go into a million other legitimate reasons to explain the price drops last November, but the coincidential timing with the election will always cloud the view of a skeptic such as yourself. If there some market manipulation, it was done as much, if not more, in the overseas in the open market as it was done in the US retail market, and it clearly benefitted liberal Democrats more than it did conservatives based on the outcome of the election. So to posit that Republicans rigged the market has a miniscule shread of validity to it, but if such a purposeful manipulation occurred, it showed that it had little to no effect. Those are the facts, and if you just cannot accept them Kay D., then I am sorry for your inability to understand reality. It is soft, overcompasionate, weak, timid people like you that will allow our country to become a socialist meca before the end of this century, and for that I am concerned. Citizens who cannot see past the direct consequences of an action are doomed to allow government to run rampant over them. I fear for the livelihood of the residents of Maryland, and the increased taxes, lower health care standards, lower quality of life that will result from the passage of this law. Sure it will provide better wages for some, but everything comes at a cost, and unlike Kay D., I am not willing to pay that cost to dramtically degrade the quality of life for those who have worked hard to get to where they are in life and will see increased taxes, fewer benefits and possibly lower wages to compensate their co-workers that don't deserve to make $11.30/hour.

Posted by: Tim Neisan | May 10, 2007 9:50 AM | Report abuse

I you want cheaper gasoline, get rid of the liberals blocking the construction of new oil refineries, drill offshore and ANWAR. Done and done.

Posted by: Rufus | May 10, 2007 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Why would we worry about the survival of businesses that cannot pay a living wage?

Resources tied up in them should be transferred to businesses that are better managed and provide a more valuable service.

Have we reached the point where we think businesses are a good in themselves and need not be justified by their impact? Isn't creating jobs the whole point?

Posted by: Cass | May 10, 2007 10:31 AM | Report abuse

A Living Wage will not create jobs!! It will eliminate jobs, and force companies to be more selective in who they hire. This will hurt lower income earners more than it will help them. Underperformers will be quickly cast aside for those who can work hard enough to earn their higher wage. Cass is missing the point. The job that used to be done with two people working at $6.50/hour will now have to be done by one person at $11.30/hour. How does that create jobs? It does create wealth, but for those who don't deserve it, and devalues the work of those who do work hard to earn their pay, which is above the new Living Wage. What a pathetic move, but I guess that would be expected from the People's Republic of Maryland. Tsar O'Malley will have destroyed our capitalist society by 2009.

Posted by: Steven Tumbell | May 10, 2007 10:37 AM | Report abuse

"I wish that it could have helped 500,000 people."

Wow, this poster must have a lot of money to burn. Why don't we just double the minimum wage, causing an economic ripple effect that will just make the cost of living increase three years down the road so that the minimum wage has to be increase again? I wish people like this poster would understand economics, and that if you raise the basement wage of people, every single other employee is affected. In capitalism, there are a wide range of earners from rich to poor. This may seem insensitive, but people in the middle and upper portions of the economic food chain need people at the bottom (poor) to perform jobs that middle and upper "class" people cannot complete because of their "wage." By increasing the "wage" of the poor, you decrease the value of the work the middle and upper "class" people perform, meaning that those people must accept that their no "worth" the same anymore, or the price of their work goes up. If this poster is willing to see the value of their work decrease, and the value of lower "class" people's work increase, that's fine, but I would ask them to move to China or North Korea, because I'm not so keen on socialism.

Posted by: August | May 10, 2007 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Well well well. Look at todays article that Maryland will now have layoffs and budget cuts. Why didn't they mention all that a couple of days ago when they were lauding the wage increase. Now they are saying there will be less spending on projects.

Posted by: FLvet | May 11, 2007 8:31 AM | Report abuse

Anybody making minimum wage after six months is a moron

Capitalisim rocks

If you don't pay attention in school you deserve to get paid less

Personal Responsibility

Vote Republican

Posted by: Interesting | May 11, 2007 1:30 PM | Report abuse

My 2 cents:
If democrats find the state minimum wage ($6.15/hr) to be too low, raise the minimum wage. From a logical standpoint, I find it absurd that the living wage applies only to workers on state contracts - if it's a fairness/morality issue as the democrats claim, why limit it to state contract workers? Why not change the state minimum wage (other than the fact that it would kill our state's economy)?

Posted by: TPS | May 15, 2007 12:53 PM | Report abuse

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