Today is a proud day for the New Jersey State AFL-CIO, a leader in the fight to raise the minimum wage to a living wage in our high-cost state. Leaders in the Senate and Assembly announced that they have agreed to pursue a plan to raise the wage to $15 per hour.
Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto announced an agreement to move legislation in both houses that would raise the wage from the current $8.38 per hour to $10.10 per hour immediately, with yearly increases until the minimum wage tops $15 per hour. With Gov. Christie expected to veto any minimum wage increase bill that gets to his desk, Senate President Stephen Sweeney announced an agreement to move ahead with plans to place a question before voters in 2017 that would advance the same goal, raising the wage to $15 per hour by 2023. The phase-in provides a cushion to small businesses and allows owners time to adjust to paying the higher rate without resorting to layoffs.
Senate President Sweeney and Speaker Prieto recognized the New Jersey State AFL-CIO for its partnership in the continuing campaign to raise the wage. Working with Senate President Sweeney (LD-3) and Assembly Speaker Prieto (LD-32), we will deliver a significant increase to New Jersey’s minimum wage workers who earn less than $18,000 a year. With state poverty level at a 50-year high and 20 percent of residents holding half the income, the need for a living wage is more important than ever.
We applaud our Democratic leaders for agreeing on a two-part strategy to help the working poor in our state. While we also thank Rep. Donald Norcross (CD-1) for recently introducing federal legislation to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, we cannot wait for Congress to act.
Raising the minimum wage is good for the entire state. Workers and the families who are directly affected benefit immediately by being able to afford more of life’s necessities. The increase in discretionary spending by these working families on necessities such as food and housing benefits small businesses and the community at large.
We wholeheartedly support the efforts of our elected leaders to help bring about economic justice for all workers in our state.