Downtown needs good-paying jobs

April 10, 2011

Baltimore city leaders deserve credit for seeking to attract new businesses downtown ("Marketing campaign is urged to lure businesses downtown," April 6). Revitalizing the city center and downtown is in everyone's best interests, especially if it includes the creation of decent paying jobs. To be successful, we must be sure that companies receiving tax breaks or other incentives are required to pay their low wage workers enough to support their families.

While Maryland has the highest median income in the country, an estimated 20 percent of all Baltimore residents lived below the poverty level in 2009. For example, many private security officers, who serve as the first line of defense at downtown buildings, earn as little as $9 per hour. Their low pay underscores the desperate need to boost wages for working families struggling to make ends meet.

Nothing is more important than making sure large and growing industries, such as the private security industry, create decent paying good jobs that help working families, support our communities and give the city's economy a boost. Ensuring that our precious tax dollars are used for that purpose is one concrete way to make the city center revitalization a success.

Jaime Contreras, Baltimore

The writer is capital area director for 32BJ SEIU.

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