Action Together New Jersey (ATNJ) statement in response to the New Jersey legislature passing a $15 per hour minimum wage bill

| 06 Feb 2019 | 07:39

    New Jersey’s state legislature, on Thursday, Jan. 31, passed a measure that raises the state’s minimum wage for most workers to $15 per hour, over the next five years. Governor Phil Murphy, Senate President Sweeney, and Assembly Speaker Coughlin announced an agreement on the issue prior to the vote, eventually resulting in the passage of the bill largely along party lines.
    ATNJ is grateful for the collaboration between key leaders in the state legislature and Executive Office. The bill aims to help struggling New Jersey families adapt to an increasingly costly economic environment. New Jersey’s cost of living is at an all-time high and among the highest in the entire nation. Our workers are not able to generate enough income to survive, and, much less, enough to invest back into the state’s economy. Even with an increase to $15/hour, full-time workers (40 hours/week) would be making just $31,200 per year, before taxes. We will continue our advocacy efforts until the new rates are phased in, after which we will ensure the minimum wage is adequate for the prevailing economic environment. We will push for the wage increases to be tied to the cost-of-living-adjustment, a metric used in calculating Social Security benefits. Further, we will advocate on behalf of the workers that were carved out from this bill, specifically those in the agriculture and restaurant sectors. The “fight for $15” is not over until all our workers are included.
    Since we recently celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy a few weeks prior, we urge our state Senate and Assembly, as well as the Governor’s office, to carry the essence of Dr. King’s fight for economic justice. More than fifty years ago, Dr. King spoke at the Lincoln Memorial and delivered his I Have a Dream speech: “We refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we’ve come to cash this check – a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.”
    We look forward to working with the Administration and leaders in the legislature to identify initiatives that will move New Jersey forward and make our economy fairer, more prosperous, and inclusive of all residents.
    John George
    Economic Policy Director
    Action Together New Jersey
    Nhu-Uyen “Winn” Khuong
    Executive Director
    Action Together New Jersey