DALLAS TWP. — A family cannot survive on $7.25 — that was the message conveyed by a dozen protesters outside Sen. Lisa Baker’s Dallas office Wednesday.
For nearly a decade, Pennsylvania’s minimum wage has been stagnant at $7.25 per hour while 29 other states raised their wages, said John Dodds, of the Raise the Wage Pennsylvania Coalition.
Demonstrators gathered outside Sen. Baker’s office to voice their displeasure with Baker’s lack of action to push a bill through the Labor & Industry Committee she chairs.
“It has sat in that committee for over a year,” Dodds said. “This (demonstration) is symbolic to keep the pressure on our legislators. That bill has not seen the light of day.”
The coalition and supporters from Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Wyoming Valley, Northeast Pennsylvania Industry Workers of the World, Northeastern Pennsylvania Area Labor Federation and the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations are asking state legislators to raise the state’s minimum hourly rate to $10.10.
If the wage is increased to the proposed $10.10, nearly 96,000 workers would see an increase, said Jon Christiansen with the Northeast Pennsylvania Industry Workers of the World.
“She has no right, in my mind, to keep so many people at poverty levels,” Christiansen said.
A Keystone Research Center study reported a pay rate increase to $10.10 per hour could create over $225 million in revenue for the state budget, Dodds said.
Helene Elko, of Larksville, calls the current minimum wage, “wage theft.”
“Corporations are profiting at the expense of low-wage earners,” Elko said. “This is ‘corporatesy’ not a democracy.”
In an emailed statement, Sen. Baker, R-Lehman Township, said the Labor & Industry Committee has received a “wide range of testimony on the subject and asked a lot of questions. A clear consensus has not yet emerged. Part of the difficulty stems from the ongoing budget deadlock, which is a complicating factor in every issue that has funding implications and economic impact attached to it. Recently, some major private employers have moved on increasing wage levels, an indication that public pressure can make a difference. For a lot of people, having employers make determinations based on their own economic circumstances and their need to attract and retain capable employees seems preferable to a broad and inflexible mandate from state government that would again make for winners and losers.”
“The energy and commitment shown by the individuals presenting their views today and by others who are pursuing minimum wage legislation are commendable,” Baker continued in the email email. “It is an issue that both sides feel passionately about.”
Reach Eileen Godin at 570-991-6387 or on Twitter @TLNews.