Pa. Democrats and union workers rally at the Capitol for $20 per hour ‘living wage’ • Pennsylvania Capital-Star

All of Pennsylvania’s neighboring states have a higher minimum wage, but the Keystone State remains stuck at the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour. 

Workers and state Democratic elected officials say it’s time for that to change. 

“No more can we say minimum wage, because we don’t do minimum work,” state Rep. Roni Green (D-Philadelphia) said during a rally with union workers at the Capitol rotunda on Tuesday. “The days of minimum wage are gone. We need a living wage.”

State Sen. Christine Tartaglione (D-Philadelphia) released a co-sponsorship memo on Monday announcing her plans to introduce a bill to raise the state’s minimum wage to $20 an hour. 

The legislation will provide for cost of living-adjusted increases every five years thereafter by tying the wage to the Consumer Price Index for Urban Consumers (CPI-U), while setting the tipped wage to 70% of the minimum wage. 

The proposal would also allow municipalities to set a local minimum wage greater than the state’s minimum wage, which advocates have been calling for as well

Tartaglione called the current $7.25 an hour minimum wage “embarrassing poverty level.”

The Pennsylvania House passed legislation by a 103-100 vote in June 2023 which would have gradually raised the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next three years, with further annual increases tied to the consumer price index.

Minimum wage hike to $15 an hour passes in Pa. House

The legislation did not advance in the GOP-controlled state Senate.

Green, who has previously sponsored legislation that would raise the state’s minimum wage to $18 an hour, referenced California’s new law increasing the state’s minimum wage to $20 an hour for fast food workers. Green said that’s proof the Keystone State can do better.

House Speaker Joanna McClinton (D-Philadelphia) and other Democratic elected officials also attended the rally to show support for the effort. 

McClinton, who said she had worked minimum wage jobs in the past, led the gathering in a “raise the minimum wage” chant, saying  “they can’t hear you in the state Senate.” 

According to Tartaglione’s co-sponsorship memo “the Department of Labor & Industry’s 2024 Minimum Wage Report shows that nearly 68,000 Pennsylvanians subsist on the poverty wage of $7.25,” adding that an additional 335,000 Pennsylvanians receive between $7.26-$12 an hour, many of them full-time workers in childcare, home health, retail, and hospitality.

Steve Catanese, president of SEIU Local 668, asked his members in attendance what jobs they held. Responses included a wide range of jobs in the public and private sectors, and food service workers. 

“This is all the work that we called essential over the last five years in the times of need,” Catanese said, referring to the pandemic-era reliance on food service and delivery workers. “We don’t treat it like that. We don’t pay for it like that.”

Wendell Young, president of Local 1776 of the United Food and Commercial Workers, challenged lawmakers to accept a salary reduction to the state’s minimum wage. He argued that those lawmakers “wouldn’t be able to run for dog catcher” on that wage, and said the wage would be raised in 48 hours. 

Qui-Ante Anderson, an SEIU member who works at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, said lower pay doesn’t just impact hospital workers, but can affect patients as well, with low wages making it harder to attract enough staff to care for them. 

“To all the electeds that have an opportunity to make a difference here, we just ask that you legislate like you f—ing mean it,” Catanese said.



Originally published at penncapital-star.com,by John Cole

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