TRENTON – Governor Phil Murphy this morning said his signing pen is at the ready. He simply needs a $15 minimum wage bill by Christmas.
“I think if we really want to give our working families a boost, let’s hope our holiday wish list and the Dec. 17th board list include putting New Jersey on a certain path to a $15 minimum wage for New Jersey,” Murphy said.
The Governor cited New Jersey’s current $8.60 minimum wage as the fifth most insufficient in the country and said he cannot believe the state continues to tolerate such injustice.
It is a matter of social justice, he explained.
“Establishing a livable wage of $15 per hour provides New Jersey’s working families with the opportunity to put food on their tables and keep the lights on in their homes,” said Murphy. “Raising the minimum wage is a crucial piece in building the foundation for a robust and fair economy. We have talked about this issue and the benefits it will bring to New Jerseyans long enough. The time for the Legislature to act is now.” He argued that increasing the minimum wage to $15 will empower working families, which in turn will boost productivity and grow New Jersey’s economy.
“Let’s get minimum wage raised now to $15 an -hour,” the Governor urged.
The Governor introduced Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake (D-34), a leader on the $15 minimum wage bill.
“We have got to do better, and we are committed to doing better. New Jersey is one of the most expensive places to live in the United States,” said the East Orange Assemblywoman, who noted that it was not too long ago that she made $9 an -hour as a struggling baker.
Both the Governor and Timberlake cited a reinforcing Nov. 25th NJ.com op-ed penned by Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-19):
“In the coming weeks, we will be unveiling legislation to help lift these working men and women out of poverty, to provide them with an income commensurate with the dignity of their work. Passage of this legislation should not and must not be a partisan matter, because the people it seeks to help are not political pawns but our neighbors. Politicians and business owners who fear a minimum wage hike need only to look at the states whose minimum wage is higher than ours to see that many of them also have a lower cost of living.”
Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco – who has implemented a $15 minimum wage for Bergen employees – also appeared in the media room of the Governor’s Office, along with Murphy, Timberlake and other backers of a $15 minimum wage.
In response to the Governor’s remarks, Analilia Mejia, executive director of New Jersey Working
Families Alliance, issued the following statement:
”New Jersey legislative leaders must set a pathway to raising the minimum wage that ensures all workers are included. Without a $15 minimum wage, workers lose $256 a week in potential income that can be spent towards basic life necessities and back to our local economy. We call on New Jersey legislators to pass a $15 minimum wage for all workers by year’s end. Any legislation that seeks to exempt workers will worsen inequities already faced by women, workers of color, and families of young low wage workers.”
New Jersey Business and Industry Association (NJBIA) President & CEO Michele N. Siekerka issued the following statement regarding today’s press conference by Governor Murphy on increasing New Jersey’s minimum wage to $15 an hour:
“Any responsible pathway to raising the minimum wage should take into consideration the impact on our small business owners, which drive our economy and support our communities. Many of our members have already told us any significant increase in the minimum wage will result in a reduction of staff, hours and/or benefits, or an increase in prices or automation.
“A gradual, phased-in increase of a $15 minimum wage will provide our job creators predictability and the ability to keep up with the continuing rising costs of running their business. It’s also important to remember that raising the rate at the entry level, regardless of an employee’s skill level, means resetting the rate for other workers across the board. Concerns about wage compression are real and can create inequitable pay differentials between low-skilled workers and trained or experienced ones.
“NJBIA will continue to advance a discussion that includes job training for higher wages, as well as appropriate exemptions to address youth and training wages, and various industry sectors more adversely impacted by the burden of their increased costs, in addition to a gradual phase-in of a minimum wage increase.”