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News & Press: Chairman's Message

Chairman's Message: January 2017

Wednesday, January 25, 2017   (0 Comments)
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Dear members and friends,

¡Saludos!

First, I want to congratulate all of our finalists and winners of the 2016 Business Excellence Awards. We had a wonderful night of recognition, friends, dancing and great food as we celebrated #MDHCCexceptionalism. Be sure to attend our next and very important event, MDHCC’s 17th Annual Legislative Reception beginning at 6:00p.m. at the Double Tree Hotel in Annapolis.

We have been speaking with several of our members and have gleaned insights based on our survey about two very influential bills:

  1. House Bill 1 (Maryland Healthy Working Families Act / Mandatory Paid Leave) Requiring employers that employ 15 or more employees to provide employees with earned sick and safe leave that is paid at the same wage rate as the employee normally earns; requiring employers with 14 or fewer employees to provide an employee with unpaid earned sick and safe leave; providing for the manner in which earned sick and safe leave is accrued; authorizing an employee to work additional hours or trade shifts with another employee under specified circumstances
  2. House Bill 1372 (Labor and Employment - Payment of Wages - Minimum Wage and Repeal of Tip Credit [Fight for Fifteen]) Specifying the State minimum wage rate that is in effect for specified time periods; increasing, except under specified circumstances, the State minimum wage rate in effect for specified periods of time based on the annual growth in the Consumer Price Index; repealing the authority of an employer to include, as part of an employee's wage, a specified amount to represent the tips of the employee



House Bill 1: There are many issues with House Bill 1 as it stands. To start, several definitions need to be made more specific, for example, the bill uses ". . .who regularly work . ." and without defining "regularly".

Furthermore, treating a business of 15 employees as a business of 100 or more does not make strategic sense. These small businesses are in a very vulnerable position. In order to survive the early stages of growth, they have to grow at exponential rates, they have to reinvest most profits directly into the business or they go to cover start-up/early stage debt. Imposing mandatory paid leave at the rate proposed (1 hour for every 30 worked) to these small businesses will result in an added burden that many will not be able to bear. In our opinion, to defend our small business interests, the current Bill has to be modified to assuage certain dangers.

Those dangers include such factors as the 15-employee trigger to mandate the employer provide the coverage; the fact that employers under that trigger would still be subject to providing unpaid leave, as well as complying with all the administrative record-keeping requirements; the establishment of an eligible employee at only 8 hours/week of work; onerous sanctions and penalties for even an accidental and inadvertent error in recordkeeping; the exposure to treble and punitive damages, as well as fees and costs; and the added burden placed upon seasonal employers that is unique to their calendar windows of operation.

HB 1372: Raising the minimum wage to $15 will also displace many entry-level/untrained Hispanics who currently make a living working slightly above or at the minimum wage level. The displacement will occur as employers require $15 worth of skill, experience and training, and, as such, these $15 positions will force employers to replace minimum-wage (or slightly above) earners.

Furthermore, in terms of apprenticeships or internships, college students and recent graduates will also be displaced from paid internships, as the employer must justify $15/hour worth of a labor cost. Once again, these employers will demand higher skills, experience and training and, as such, these $15 internships and apprenticeships will force replacing minimum-wage (or slightly above) interns. Further, paid internships may be transformed completely into unpaid internships. This may cause young Latinos to forgo an internship in lieu of a paid part-time position for economic reasons, creating a disadvantage in acquiring future possible well-paying jobs in technology or professional services.

Please be sure to attend our 17th Annual Legislative Reception where we will be presenting our position on these and other bills to our legislators and the Lieutenant Governor.

Lastly, as part of one of our new initiatives of our strategic plan to offer our members customized mentorship, advocacy and business matching, we will begin hosting our quarterly Membership Orientation and Economic Outlook Breakfast with our partners, the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Baltimore. Register for our February 27 kick-off breakfast at their beautiful offices in Baltimore from 7:30 to 9:30 am. Existing members are welcomed and encouraged to attend, but if you are a new member, these breakfasts are a must!


Onward!


Jorge Eduardo Castillo
Chairman
Maryland Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Chair@mdhcc.org


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