Insider NJ

RaiseNJ Coalition Supports A15: Lifts Up Nearly 1 Million Workers

Insider NJ — January 24, 2019

Trenton, NJ — Today, a coalition of over 40 grassroots, community, faith based and pro-worker organizations across the state attended the Assembly Labor Committee hearing in support of A15, to raise the minimum wage to $15/hr. The coalition is calling on members of the labor committee to support the bill to raise up nearly 1 million New Jersey workers to a greater living wage.

The measure is embodied in A15, also scheduled for a Senate Labor Committee hearing on Monday.

Raise New Jersey Coalition supports the bill and issued the following statement by Analilia Mejia, executive director of New Jersey Working Families, who convenes the coalition.

"Workers have been held back for too long by stagnant wages and rising costs of living. This bill is a victory for close to 1 million New Jersey workers who will be able to cover a basic cost of living and support their families. This bill goes beyond lifting up the working poor, but extends the benefits to the local economy as consumer will have more buying power. Workers can no longer wait for this policy and can no longer wait in one of the most expensive states in the country."

Organizations from the RaiseNJ Coalition made the following statement:

32BJ SEIU, Vice President, and NJ District Director, Kevin Brown
After years of organizing, protesting and lobbying, our elected officials in New Jersey, today's hearing on a $15 minimum wage for the state is a huge step in the right direction for thousands of hardworking men and women." "We would like to commend Gov. Murphy and the leadership of the NJ legislature for their leadership on this important victory and applaud the incredible work of grassroots, faith, immigrant and labor organizations who, together, made this a reality.

New Jersey Citizen Action, Executive Director, Phyllis Salowe- Kaye
It is immoral and wrong that in one of the richest states in the richest country in the history of the world, we continue to allow those who work full time to live in poverty. Raising New Jersey's minimum wage for the vast majority of workers to $15 an hour by 2024 is the morally right and economically smart thing to do for New Jersey's workers, businesses and economy. This is a ground up investment in workers and the economy that will pay dividends for years to come."

Main Street Alliance, business representative, Raj Bath
Many small owners agree that New Jersey workers are owed long overdue raises and are already paying $15 or close to it to their employees. Successful small business owners understand that to retain employees and to get them to perform well you have to compensate them well. They also understand their employees are important customers in their own communities, and customers need money in their pockets to purchase goods and services from businesses of all sizes. What's good for small business employees is also good for small businesses and the communities they serve."

CATA - The Farmworker Support Committee, Executive Director, Jessica Culley
We appreciate that in this new proposal many New Jersey workers will finally get the $15 minimum wage we know that they need. We recognize that timelines are shorter than the previous proposal and that fewer categories of workers are carved out. However, it is still disappointing to see that there are categories of workers that have to wait more than 5 years to get to a $15 minimum wage and that farmworkers, a critical workforce in this state, are not even guaranteed a $15 minimum wage. This new proposal, while beneficial to most of New Jersey's workforce, specifically carves out farmworkers to a greater extent and still allows for the potential of a creation of a subclass of workers. As a farmworker advocate organization, we will continue to advocate for equality for farmworkers and ask legislators to consider different language that would guarantee farmworkers a $15 minimum wage by 2026.

UUFaithAction NJ, Executive Director Rev. Rob Gregson
Unitarian Universalists' core principles include respect for "the inherent worth and dignity of every person". That includes the ability to earn a living wage and lead a comfortable existence. We believe that this issue of raising the minimum wage is not simply a question of economics, but a moral imperative. We are heartened that the Legislature has chosen to act to address this pressing, fundamental moral issue. While we as Unitarian Universalists applaud and support the proposed legislation, that support is not without caveats. We are concerned about the legislation's schedule, which extends the process by which the minimum wage is raised over many years.

While we recognize that it is not practical to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour immediately, we would be in favor of a far shorter period, — three years has been widely suggested — as otherwise by the time the raise is realized, the new wage would still not be sufficient for even a basic level of subsistence in this expensive part of the world.

Secondly, we are concerned that the proposed legislation creates classes of workers: in particular, tip workers and farmworkers are largely left behind, although their needs as individuals and as parents are the same, if not greater, than other workers. We would support
changes in the legislation to bring all minimum wage workers up to an income level where a sustainable existence is possible.

Laundry Workers Center, member, Junior Brown
Laundry Workers Center supports increasing the minimum wage to 15 dollars for all workers in New Jersey. Our membership believes that increasing the minimum wage for all will have a positive impact on the economy and the well-being of New Jersey working-class families. LWC
represents laundry, restaurant, and warehouses workers and those workers stand in solidarity with other workers.

I live in East Orange, NJ and I support not only an increase in the minimum wage for workers like myself, but others that might be left behind like farm-workers, domestic workers, laundromat workers and others employed by small businesses.

Wind of the Spirit, member, Eri Torres
We are ecstatic that this bill includes the small business that me and my mother work at it allows us to live a more dignified life. And we are very happy at all the good this bill will do for working class families. However, we recognize that no workers should be left out. A minimum wage should be a living wage for all. Don't leave domestic workers, tipped workers, and farm workers out.

Latino Action Network, director, Chris Estevez
Latino constitute 17 percent of New Jersey's population, yet account for 29 percent of low wage earners that would benefit from a raise in the minimum wage. These numbers speak to the scope of the problem that low wages pose to Latino working families. We have an opportunity to break this cycle by passing common sense legislation that raises the minimum wage in New Jersey to $15 per hour within the next five years. If we do not act now, we will relegate too many of our working families to poverty and foreclose on the futures of more generations of the children of the working poor.

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