Bye. Democrats and union workers protest on Capitol Hill over $20 an hour ‘living wage’

All of Pennsylvania’s neighboring states have higher minimum wages, but the Keystone State maintains the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour.

State Democratic elected officials and workers say it’s time to change that.

“We can’t talk about the minimum wage anymore because we don’t do the minimum wage,” Rep. Roni Green (R-Philadelphia) said during a Tuesday rally with union workers in the Capitol rotunda. “The days of the minimum wage are over. We need a living wage.”

State Senator Christine Tartaglione (Philadelphia) delivered co-sponsorship on Monday announced her plans to introduce a bill to raise the state minimum wage to $20 an hour.

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

The proposal would also allow municipalities to set a local minimum wage higher than the state minimum wage supporters also urged.

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

The The Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed the bill by a 103-100 majority in June 2023, which would gradually raise the state minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next three years, with further annual increases tied to the Consumer Price Index.

In Pa. House raises the minimum wage to $15 an hour

The legislation failed to advance in the GOP-controlled state Senate.

Green, who previously sponsored legislation that would make it possible raise the state minimum wage to $18 an hourreference New California Law raising the state minimum wage to $20 an hour for speedy food workers. Green said it’s proof the Keystone State can do better.

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

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

According to Tartaglione’s co-sponsored memo, “The Department of Labor and Industry’s 2024 Minimum Wage Report Shows Nearly 68,000 Pennsylvanians Living on the $7.25 Minimum Wage,” adding that an additional 335,000 Pennsylvanians receive $7.26 up to $12 an hour, and many of them work full time. -temporary workers in childcare, home health, retail and hospitality.

Steve Catanese, president of SEIU Local 668, asked members present at the meeting what positions they held. The responses concerned various professions in the public and private sectors and food service workers.

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

Wendell Young, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776, urged lawmakers to accept a pay cut to the state minimum wage. He argued that these lawmakers “would not be able to apply for the position of dog catcher” at that salary and said the pay would be increased within 48 hours.

Qui-Ante Anderson, an SEIU member who works at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, said lower wages not only affect hospital workers, but can also impact patients because low wages make it arduous to attract enough staff to care for them .

“To all those elected who have the opportunity to make a difference here, we just ask you to legislate like you actually do,” Catanese said.

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