Wednesday, June 08, 2005

June spotlight: PA minimum wage

With Philadelphia's having just approved an increase in the minimum wage for city contractors, there is increased interest in bringing the remaining employees under similar coverage, both in the city and throughout the state.
  1. A group of Democratic state legislators is proposing that the state minimum wage be increased by $2 over two years. (See more here.)
    "When you adjust for inflation, Pennsylvania's minimum wage earners are bringing home fewer real dollars than at any time since 1949," Veon said. "Someone who works 40 hours per week, 52 weeks per year at minimum wage still comes up $5,000 short of the poverty line for a family of three; even a single parent with one child comes up nearly $2,000 short.

    "Someone who works hard for 40 hours per week should at least be able to say they are above the poverty level."
    Polls have found very widespread support for such a measure too.

  2. Philly unions are planning a rally in support of the issue in Harrisburg on June 22, and encourage supporters to lobby their representatives on that day as well (get the contact info for your legislators here). Neighborhood Networks is also sponsoring this issue, encouraging its members to distribute minimum wage info as part of their first contacts with their neighbors.

  3. Governor Rendell has weighed in on the importance of minimum wage, warning state legislators that he won't approve any increase in their wages unless they get serious about the needs of their poorer constituents. The Majority Leader insists that the issues should be considered separately, but he may not want to face a veto, if it comes to that.
Good to see such a confluence of interest and efforts. This is a major opportunity for PA to pull itself in line with wages in its surrounding states (NY, NJ, and DE all have minimums $1 over the federal), as well as to undo the injustice of the abysmal value of today's minumum. I agree with Veon, above -- "Someone who works hard for 40 hours per week should at least be able to say they are above the poverty level." Let's get this thing done.


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