A Meaningful Minimum Wage Increase

Yarrow Willman-Cole is an Organizer at NJ Citizen Action. – Rosi

I’m going to ask you to make a 30 second phone call to Governor Christie, Blue Jersey. Here’s why it’s important.

A higher minimum wage is desperately needed in New Jersey.  Currently at $7.25 an hour, our state’s lowest paid full-time workers make only $15,080 a year, $4,000 below the poverty line for a family of three.  This is unacceptable in a state with one of the highest costs of living, where rent alone takes up over half of minimum wage workers’ monthly earnings.  A modest increase in the state’s minimum wage to $8.50 an hour will not only help New Jersey’s working families but will also boost our economy, generating millions of dollars in additional economic activity and creating thousands of additional jobs.  But unless the minimum wage is also adjusted annually based on cost of living increases (also called indexing), many households will continue struggle to make ends meet, their  spending and purchasing power will be limited, and the states’ economy will suffer.

Legislation that addresses this issue is curently sitting on Governor Christie’s desk and he has until January 28 to take action on it.  A2162(S3) will raise the state’s minimum wage to $8.50/hour and make annual adjustments based on increases in the cost-of-living.  But Governor Christie has publicly stated that he opposes indexing, despite it being a key protection in preventing the continuing erosion of the value of minimum wage.

While it is not expected that the Governor will sign the bill into law as is, he could conditionally veto it, changing the bill to raise the wage more incrementally and remove indexing all together.  The conditionally vetoed legislation would then go back to the Assembly and Speaker Sheila Oliver would have to decide whether to put the Governor’s proposed changes up for vote.  If this happens, our elected representatives should stand strong and reject the Governor’s proposal.  The Legislature has already approved alternative legislation to amend the state constitution to raise the minimum wage to $8.25/hour and has this option in their back pocket and can pursue it as a ballot measure with the crucial measure of indexing.

The Governor should not get a pass on this important issue.  He must hear from us and know that we support indexing as a means to stop the further erosion of wages and as a way to gradually increase the minimum wage accordingly.  We cannot accept his framing of the issue as bad for business.  Research has shown that increases in the minimum wage do not lead to job loses but rather would infuse New Jersey’s struggling economy with additional dollars (estimates range from $195 million  to $300 million) that would be fully spent and mostly locally.

Please make a 30 second call to Governor Christie now to let him know that you strongly support raising the minimum wage with indexing.  Dial 609-292-6000, tell the operator that you are calling to ask Governor Christie to sign A2162 and keep indexing. Click here to send Gov. Christie an email.

If you or anyone you know makes minimum wage or a low hourly wage, you can encourage them to debunk the stereotypes and share their story, here is a place to debunk stereotypes and share their story.

Thank you for taking action on minimum wage! Stay tuned for more!

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