NJ Governor Promotes $15 Wages at New Brunswick Soup Kitchen
The room at Elijah’s Promise was packed with local reporters, New Jersey government officials and those who work at the community kitchen, who watched on as Governor Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) promoted his plan to raise New Jersey minimum wages.
At approximately 11:30 a.m., Murphy took the podium where he reinforced his commitment to a $15 minimum wage across the state — legislation he has been pushing since he first took office in Nov. of last year.
“We’re no less committed today, we’re ready to take this on,” he said.
Better wages, less economic inequality and inclusivity among all state residents are the underpinnings of a stronger economy that Murphy said will benefit from better wages.
“ … I know this, the folks here at Elijah’s Promise know this too, that’s why their workers already earn $15 dollars an hour,” said Murphy.
Based on his research his team conducted, Murphy listed figures for who a higher minimum wage would affect most.
He said that nearly 80 percent of people who would benefit from higher wages are in their twenties and are either working a full-time job, are in college or just graduated.
More than half are women and people of color, while 25 percent of those who would benefit are parents.
“Adjusted for cost of living, New Jersey has the fifth most insufficient minimum wage in the United States,” he said.
Murphy cited findings from The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities that found New Jersey has the seventh worst rate of income inequality in the nation where the top five percent of households make more than 15.6 times what an average family in the bottom 20 percent earns.
Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly Craig Coughlin added that his and Murphy’s efforts in to raise the minimum wage in 2013, from $7.25 to $8.25, fell short of their intended goal.
“Today’s $8.60 is, as the Governor had pointed out, below near 20 states that have higher wages, another nine states are working on getting their minimum wage between nine and 15 dollars by 2022,” Coughlin said.
Coughlin echoed Murphy’s sentiments that those who stand to benefit from higher wages are not teenagers, but adults over twenty that work multiple jobs and more than 35 hours a week. Both he and Murphy agreed that these increases are most beneficial when they encourage residents to support the economy by spending more.
He said he and the Mayor are in the process of working on a draft for legislation that would raise wages, it is a priority they are looking to implement this fall.
“I think there is agreement among the governor, the Senate president and me that we need to phase this in over a period of time,” he said.
In a comment to The Daily Targum, Murphy said he would be open to working with student organizations petition for higher working wages on campus.
Last year, members from the Rutgers chapter of United Students Against Sweatshops interrupted a Board of Trustees meeting in protest of worker wages. The day before University President Robert L. Barchi announced worker wages on campus would increase to $11 an hour up from $8.44.
Mayor of New Brunswick James Cahill added that if the Governor were to support student organizations he would do the same.
“We’ve done good traction with the student communities in the state so there’s no reason we wouldn’t,” Murphy said.