Middlesex County Mayors Call for Action on New Jersey $15 Minimum Wage Increase

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Middlesex County Mayors Call for Action on New Jersey $15 Minimum Wage Increase

Following Amazon Wage Hike, Mayors Cahill and Diaz Join Low-Wage Workers, Unions and Advocates to Push for Action to Raise the Minimum Wage in NJ to $15

(October 11, 2018, New Brunswick): Middlesex County mayors, including Mayor James Cahill of New Brunswick and Mayor Wilda Diaz of Perth Amboy held a press conference Thursday with low-wage workers and labor and community partners to urge action by Governor Murphy and state legislators to phase in a $15 minimum wage in New Jersey for all workers. Community and labor partners including Make the Road New Jersey, New Jersey Working Families Alliance, Workers United, SEIU 32BJ, New Labor, Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey joined the mayors to call for urgent action on raising the wage this year.

Middlesex County is home to nearly 120,000 of the 1 million workers statewide that would benefit from an increase in the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Among these many depend on seasonal and temporary employment to provide for their families.

The press conference comes on the heels of last week’s announcement by Amazon that it would increase its minimum wage to $15 for all workers by November 1st.  Amazon joins a host of other companies that have raised their minimum wage, including Target, Ben & Jerry’s and Disney World Theme Parks. Three states and more than a half dozen cities have implemented $15 wage increases. Notable in Amazon’s announcement was that the wage increase would apply not just to direct hire employees, but also contracted seasonal and temporary workers.

“Governor Murphy has recognized New Brunswick as a beacon of economic redevelopment and job growth in New Jersey. Here in New Brunswick we understand the importance of earning a living wage and the positive impact individuals with disposable income make in our overall economy. As a state with a high cost of living, but among the lowest minimum wages in the nation, more needs to be done, and done now,” said Mayor James Cahill of New Brunswick. “We applaud Governor Murphy, Senate President Sweeney, and Assembly Speaker Coughlin for their support of raising the minimum wage. Now is the time to take action to raise the wage for all New Jersey’s hard working families.”

“In Middlesex County, a full-time minimum wage worker has to work more than 13 hours a day, 7 days a week to make ends meet. Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour is a step in the right direction to help workers support themselves and sustain a family in our county,” stated Mayor Wilda Diaz of Perth Amboy. “A $15 minimum wage is long overdue in New Jersey. It is unconscionable for someone to work more than 40 hours a week and still struggle to pay their bills. We applaud Gov Murphy for supporting a minimum wage increase for all workers and call on our Legislature to take action now and live up to their promise.”

“My family struggles to pay the bills and put our daughter through college on low wages. We’ve participated in the campaign to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour in New Jersey for several years now,” said Edison Hernandez, member of Make the Road NJ “Each year $15 means less and less, now is the time for New Jersey to take action and raise the wage for all.”

“Workers desperately need New Jersey lawmakers to move and pass a $15 minimum wage for all workers by year’s end,” said Analilia Mejia, Executive Director of New Jersey Working Families Alliance. “While a growing number of cities, states, and companies across the country adopt a $15 minimum wage, New Jersey’s working families are falling behind. The longer we delay raising the wage, the purchasing power of $15 decreases and becomes insufficient to address poverty. Raising the wage now is an important step in lifting up workers and their families.”

“It’s time for New Jersey to raise the minimum wage to a just wage. We are all humans. We all have the same needs. We can’t stand for more delays. We need $15 now!”  said Maria Gonzalez, member of Workers United/SEIU and industrial laundry worker from New Brunswick, NJ.

“It’s difficult for us to get by on what me make. Things are expensive in New Jersey.  We need a minimum wage of $15/hour for all workers in New Jersey so we can breathe, and provide what we need for our kids and families.  ¡Ya es hora!  Now is the time to make it happen!”, said Germania Hernandez member of New Labor, a worker center in New Brunswick, Newark and Lakewood that educates, organizes and fights for better working conditions.

“Workers in our country deserve to be paid a living wage for the hard work they do and it is heartening to see such a large and influential company provide a $15 minimum wage,” said Kevin Brown, vice president and New Jersey District Leader of 32BJ SEIU. “As a union that represents 170,000 members across the united states, we also know that wages aren’t the end all for working families in our country. Working people are able to fully support themselves, their families and their communities when they have the wages, benefits and union representation they need on the job.”

Over two years ago, Chris Christie vetoed a minimum wage bill championed by legislative leadership to phase in a $15 minimum wage. Had that bill been signed into law, today the minimum wage would have been $11.35. Today, the minimum wage is only $8.60 – a wage that is woefully insufficient to meet the cost of living anywhere in the State of New Jersey.

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