Thursday, April 06, 2006

Great news on the minimum wage

The State Assembly managed to come together on a version of Rep. Mark Cohen's minimum wage bill, passing the resulting measure by the happy margin of 146-50. It retains the $2 increase of the original bill ($1 this summer and another next year), for a final rate of $7.15, although no provisions for future cost-of-living adjustments remain. Also part of the compromise is an exemption for the first 60 days of employment of workers under 20, presumably to deprive opponents of the argument that the hike benefits only college students flipping burgers for the summer (not, in fact, the typical minimum wage profile).

Great work by all who have fought for this bill! On to the Senate!

Update: Marc Stier has more on the strategy considerations going forward, and the role that public pressure may have played (or still could) in getting this bill onto the floor for a vote.


Blogger Rep. Mark B. Cohen said...

There are conflicting signals as to how much resistance there will be in the Senate. One top Senate aide said they will not pass it at all in this session; another top Senate aide said $6.30 tops; a leader of the opposition though told an Evening Bulletin writer that he expected the Senate to cave and pass the House bill.

One cannot know with absolute certainty what will or will not work. But just as one can truthfully tell a student that he or she is highly likely to be more successful with hard work and discipline than without it, so one can truthfully tell activists that focusing on the Republican Senators and the people in their districts is the best strategy.

Keep talking about the minimum wage and how much people need an increase.

Although the resistance to a minimum wage increase certainly indicates a lot of bad things about a lot of people, keep the focus on the minimum wage increase and not on other areas of societal injustice, tactics of minimum wage advocates, police response to minimum wage advocates, or other interesting, important but attention diverting side issues.

When you have over 80% of the people on your side in poll after poll, you have an enormous advantage in hammering home your message if you just stick to it and avoid being distracted by tactics, sensationalism, and frustration.

In 1988, I worked with the Philadelphia Unemployment project and we finally got a 10% or so raise in the minimum wage, from $3.35 to $3.65. We helped parley that, in concert with many others, into increasing the federal minimum to $5.15. This year, the conservative resistance position is $6.30, an increase of over 20%.

We have come a long way, and are going to go much further.

12:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rep. Cohen could stop wasting taxpayers' money on personal items...that would help the state also.

3:51 PM  
Blogger Rep. Mark B. Cohen said...

More great news on the minimum wage: Arkansas today officially became the 20th state to raise the minimum wage above $5.15 for large numbers of state workers when Governor Mike Huckabee signed a proposal he had previously supported to raise the minimum wage to $6.25 into law.

A majority of all Americans now live in states with a minimum wage above $5.l5, which is going to become an increasingly potent statistic in Pennsylvania and elsewhere.

7:26 PM  

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