Our Minister addresses the press before the historic vote to raise the minimnum wage in Baltimore to $15 an hour by 2020.
My name is Reverend David Carl Olson, and I am the Minister of the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore—where we are about to celebrate the bicentennial of our founding.
For 200 years, our commitment to this city has meant that we have exhibited civic leadership. Members of our congregation have led the way; like when George Peabody founded the Peabody Institute, Rembrandt Peale the Peale Museum and Baltimore Gas and Electric Company, and when our treasurer Mr. Enoch Pratt gave this city its library system. We’ve shown civic leadership.
Today, I am here to call on the Baltimore City Council—its President and its members—to show some civic leadership. We have a chance to move forward today, or to stay mired where we are.
Our City Council and its President can take bold leadership; or it can continue to leave 100,000 Baltimore workers in poverty. The Baltimore City Council could pass a bill today to raise the minimum wage six years from now to $15 per hour. Or they could follow City Council President Jack Young’s leadership and raise the wage to $11.50 an hour
I’ve heard that old saying: “Half a loaf is better than none.”
I’m sorry. I’m here today to say that half a loaf won’t do. We’ve been making do with less than a full loaf for too long. Is $11.50 an hour enough for us?
We know that the time is now for a $15 minimum wage in Baltimore City:
–A $15 minimum wage will get us toward a full loaf, one that meets more than the barest of necessities, more than just survival.
–A $15 minimum wage will help our families move forward, out of grinding poverty, where a dollar goes only so far.
–$15 will let us live, to plan beyond the next paycheck, to build better futures for ourselves, our families and our communities.
With this in mind, will you join me today in the spirit of prayer?
O Thou whom no person at any time hath seen,
And yet who hath been revealed throughout the human story in every compassionate response to poverty and struggle,
Reveal yourself to us today in the votes of our councilors.
Touch with moral imagination our hearts, and theirs,
That they may show bold leadership in our city,
And that Baltimore may show its bold leadership
In Maryland and in the United States,
That the working poor and downcast may be healed and lifted up,
And, yes, that “justice might flow down like waters
And righteousness like an ever flowing stream.”