By Oscar Alberto Quintana for the Americano.
Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey and legislative leaders on stage took a victory lap before T.V. cameras after Gov. Murphy signed a previously negotiated minimum wage bill into a $15/hr state law. New Jersey is now a member of a four state club in the U.S. nation to do so.
The law would raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2024. New Jersey is number four among the most progressive states on the mula issue, trailing California, New York and Massachusetts.
Top Democrats on the hill are pushing a $15 minimum wage across the country. The House of Representatives now under Democratic control introduced a bill that would lift the national minimum wage to $15, higher than the federal rate of $7.25/hour.
The Big Apple and DC, the District of Columbia, have raised the minimum wage to that level. Some corporations such as Target, Gap and Amazon are paying a higher minimum wage to their employees. And Airport workers at La Guardia and JFK airports are en route to a $19/hour wage.
According to New Jersey Policy Perspective, a liberal research group, the minimum wage in New Jersey is currently $8.85, and when raised to $15 would boost the incomes of more than 1 million workers in the Garden State.
The minimum wage will go up to $10 an hour on July 1. Then on January 1, it will increase to $11 an hour, and then would go up by $1 an hour every year until $15 in 2024.
“No one working a full-time job should ever live in poverty,” Mr. Murphy, a Democrat, said in a statement. “Putting the minimum wage on a clear and responsible path to $15 an hour is good for workers, good for our businesses and good for our economy. A higher minimum wage strengthens all of New Jersey.”
It took three VIP people to make it happen: Phil D. Murphy, the Governor, Stephen M. Sweeney, the Senate President, and Craig Coughlin, the Speaker of the Assembly.
The three Democratic leaders negotiated for more than 30 days before reaching an agreement on the wage bill.
“Since the day I was sworn in as Assembly speaker, I have pledged to do all I can to make New Jersey more affordable,” Mr. Coughlin has said. “By increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024 for the majority of workers, we are achieving the goal of lifting people up to improve their quality of life.”The law is a major political victory and fulfilled campaign promise for Mr. Murphy.
Other promises such as legalizing marijuana and allowing driver licenses for undocumented people remain in back burners.
Mr. Sweeney has said that the $12.50 minimum wage for farmworkers was the highest wage for such workers in the Northeast.
“If I’m a farmworker, and I can make $2.50 more an hour delivering food versus picking it, I’m going to make an economic calculation for me and my family,” said Analilia Mejia, the executive director of the New Jersey Working Families Alliance. Some believe this law creates two levels of workers. “The Lucky and Less Fortunate ones”