Faison: Equal Pay and Living Wage Essential to New Jersey’s Economy
Asbury Park, NJ: Dominique Faison is making one thing clear about her economic agenda: eliminating the gender pay gap is a major priority. Faison, an Asbury Park resident running for a Legislative District 11 Assembly seat, says such a legislative priority is long overdue.
“Ensuring women are being paid fair wages, just like their male counterparts, is one of the keys to allowing families all over the state to have a chance to improve their overall economic position,” states Faison. “With more women needing to work to keep their family afloat, equal pay would go a long way to uplift every family in New Jersey as well as help in the battle against child poverty.”
Faison is certain equal pay is a key to turning around the economy for all families in NJ. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, women’s annual earnings were 82.3% of men’s pay. “Closing this gap is long overdue,” contends Faison. “It is time to see equal pay for equal work.”
Achieving a living wage for all New Jersey workers is another major economic policy priority for the Faison campaign. NJ’s current minimum wage is $12/hour. According to MIT’s Living Wage Calculator, a single individual can live on $16.20 per hour…while a family of four (assuming one working adult) would need at least $35.18 per hour. “Our working families need to see the value in their jobs, both in terms of integrity and paychecks,” says Faison. The Green Party candidate makes the connection to quality of life, as she identifies people struggling to meet not just their family’s financial needs, but their social and emotional needs. “There are too many people having to choose between working multiple jobs to simply get by and spending time with their children,” states Faison. “Making equal pay and a living wage in New Jersey a reality will not only strengthen the economy, but it will strengthen families and in turn communities.”
Among the consequences of this issue is the social and emotional impact on the working poor. Faison points to the ways in which multiple levels of government are suppressing low-income families throughout her district and the state. “Working families who are not receiving a living wage are forced to live with the stigma of being poor and struggling,” says Faison. “Working poor families don’t have access to “Cadillac” health care plans that would provide resources for people to get assistance for mental health issues.” Faison contends that even working poor families who have some form of health care are gaining access from state-sponsored/funded plans that do not provide for covering mental health assistance. She also points out many of those in need of mental health services are children and public services are not even close to being in an adequate position to help. “State-run social services are overwhelmed and backlogged,” Faison says. “Schools try to have staff available to help kids, but when your public school is under-performing and the state continues to cut aid to the school…those services are among the first ones eliminated.”
The Faison campaign has also been very vocal on the gentrification processes going on within some communities in the 11th District, including the candidate’s hometown of Asbury Park. “Gentrification is centered on wealth, not people,” Faison says. “This process has changed the town emotionally and financially as working families have no choice but to leave because they can’t afford to live in the town anymore.” Faison’s position on this issue stems from the observation that the local community at-large is not a part of the process. The Green Party candidate cites that many members of the community feel as if their freedoms are being sold to the highest bidder, while they have absolutely no say in the process. “The people who live in these communities need to be empowered to participate in their area’s revival…not driven out,” Faison declares. “Hope, collaboration, and participation by all members are essential to our communities improving.”