Salvation And Social Justice: Faith Leaders , Community Leaders, and Workers stand together for an increase to Minimum Wage For All New Jersey workers
Woodbury– On Tuesday night, October 9th, over 30 faith leaders, community leaders, and workers gathered at Bethel AME Church in Woodbury to focus on the why a $15 minimum wage bill must be fair and equitable for all workers, regardless of race, industry, or age.
As the NJ Legislature is poised to adopt a statewide $15 minimum wage by end of the year, faith leaders stand in solidarity with workers push for economic and racial justice, and activists’ push for a $15 minimum wage bill for all workers.
There a lot of energy across the country for the Fight for $15 but definitely in New Jersey,” said Rev. Charles Boyer, Bethel AME Pastor and Salvation and Social Justice. “There are a lot of people with taglines who use this energy to push their own agendas. What we are seeing now are folks who are on the side of raising the wage but they want to carve out tipped workers, farm workers, and youth workers. Justice carved out is not justice at all. We must stand together, especially in this part of the state with some of the most powerful lawmakers who hold the key to these carve outs and timeline. It us up to us to stand up and say “it you take advantage of some, you take advantage of all.”
Rabbi Larry Sernovitz of Nafshenu said, “Just because you have a job doesn’t mean you’re making a living wage. There’s a lot of politicians who talk a big about how low the unemployment numbers are. That doesn’t mean anything. That means there’s a lot of abused workers out there. Low unemployment rates do not mean a reduction in poverty. As New Jersey moves farther away from the Great Recession, economic recovery has been funneled to the already wealthy and well to-do and while wages for working and middle class continue to stagnate. By raising the minimum wage, we enable workers to escape poverty. It’s not about throwing a dollar here or there, it’s about getting folks out of the cycle of poverty. If we choose to become an employer, then we have a responsibility to ensure that our workers don’t live in poverty.”
Legislators have heard the cry of the faith community related to these carve outs, said Rev. Sara Lilja, organizer of the event and Director Lutheran-Episcopal Advocacy Ministry of New Jersey. It’s time to introduce a bill and pass a clean bill by year’s end. Workers can’t wait. The faith community will not stop caring about the working poor. We want a clean bill and no more delays. The longer we put off the bill, the more people are hurting in our great state of New Jersey.
Jose Ruiz, farmworker and member of CATA Farmworker’s Committee, said, “In the stores, the prices are the same whether you’re rich or poor. We are disappointed to know we can be carved out and have to work extra to be able to provide for our homes. It is more unfair and unjust to see fellow farm workers working 2 job to make ends meet. My fellow farmworkers and I sit and talk about what kind of future we will have if politicians leave us out of a $15 minimum wage bill. Carving out communities will affect our families, our children, and our parents. I stand here to speak up for them to keep fighting for them so we can all work together for a clean $15 bill.”
A livestream of the event is available on the NJ Working Families Alliance Facebook page here.