City Councilor Mary Pat Clark has introduced legislation to raise the minimum wage in the city of Baltimore to $15. Today, a hearing was held before the Labor Committee at City Hall. Our minister testified in favor of the legislation. Here are his remarks:
Good afternoon. I am Rev. David Carl Olson, senior minister of the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore. Years ago when I was in seminary, my preaching professor told me that when I step into the pulpit I need to be audacious—audacious to speak on behalf of the moral, ethical and spiritual demands that religion makes on us as people called to created what Dr. King called “Beloved Community.” “Audacious!” is what my professor demanded.
I think what is audacious today is that powerful interests in this city are lobbying against the 15 dollar an hour minimum wage. Audacious that big hotels, big box retailers, national chain restaurants and even great hospitals and universities are spending money on lobbyists to tell us what we know cannot be true—that paying the lowest paid workers in this city $15 an hour would be bad for this city. Audacious.
I wonder—is it audacious to demand that working people be compensated for their time, their skills, their hard labor? Is it audacious to earn just a little more money so that we might support our families? Is it audacious to imagine a Baltimore where all of us—including the working poor—might know economic security in stable communities?
Audacious? I think not. It is just what is right.
When the $15 an hour minimum wage is passed in the city of Baltimore, none of the people employed at First Unitarian Church will receive a raise due to the law; because $15 an hour is already our minimum wage, for nearly ten years now. We are doing our part to build the Beloved Community I preach about. Will the Baltimore City Council do its part, as well?
Go on. Do it. Be audacious!