By Amy Majani, APSCUF Intern, ESU Student
Members of RaisetheWagePA, a coalition of religious, labor, community, and women’s rights activists gathered in the Capitol on Tuesday, March 18, to announce a campaign to raise Pennsylvania’s minimum wage.
Four Legislators — Sen. Christine Tartaglione, Rep. Mike Hanna, Rep. Mark Cohen, and Rep. Patty Kim — joined the coalition to promote legislation that would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, and include future cost of living adjustments responsive to inflation.
According to a report compiled by the Philadelphia Unemployment Project, more than one million Pennsylvanians would receive an increase in pay if the minimum wage rate were raised. Of these individuals, 56.5 percent of the affected will be women while an overwhelming majority (83.5 percent) would be workers over the age of 20.
“When an employer pays you a minimum wage, the employer is saying, ‘I would pay you less if I could,’” said Andre Butler, a banquet server from Philadelphia who spoke on behalf of low wage workers.
The coalition, of which APSCUF is a member, also supports raising the minimum wage of tipped workers, opposes the right of localities to set their own minimum wages, and supports a significant increase in fines on employers who engage in wage theft.
To echo the words of Reverend Sandy Strauss of the Pennsylvania Council of Churches, ‘The minimum wage is poverty wage.’ For our students, an increase in the minimum wage is a reprieve from rising costs of living, and most importantly rising costs in higher education.
The coalition will hold a series of local events in May as well as a Harrisburg Day in June in support of the issue.