PA lawmakers haven't voted to raise the minimum wage since 2006
York, PA – Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Secretary Jennifer Berrier today called for long overdue action by the General Assembly to raise the commonwealth's abysmal minimum wage during a visit with state Rep. Carol Hill-Evans to the York City Pretzel Company, a business that supports Governor Wolf's proposal to raise Pennsylvania's minimum wage to $12 an hour with a pathway to $15 by 2028.
"At L&I, we strive to make workplaces as safe as possible and that includes ensuring the economic security of workers whenever and wherever we can. As it stands, employers in Pennsylvania can legally choose to pay their workers just $7.25 an hour. That is poverty-level pay in exchange for an honest day's work from some of the most vulnerable people in our labor force. It is simply unacceptable," said Secretary Berrier. "The Wolf Administration supports a plan that ends the legal exploitation of hourly workers and eliminates the tipped worker minimum wage of $2.83 an hour. We believe one fair minimum wage for all workers helps tipped workers ― two-thirds of whom are women."
Governor Tom Wolf's plan proposes raising Pennsylvania's minimum wage to $12 per hour by July 1, 2022, with a pathway to a universal fair minimum wage of $15 per hour by 2028. The proposal will help workers recover the purchasing power lost since the minimum wage was set at $7.25 per hour to match the federal minimum wage more than a decade ago. According to the Keystone Research Center, if the minimum wage had kept pace with productivity growth since the late 1960s, it would be more than $24 per hour today in Pennsylvania.
Governor Wolf has repeatedly called on the General Assembly to pass S.B. 12, sponsored by Sen. Tina Tartaglione, or H.B. 345, sponsored by Rep. Patty Kim, to raise Pennsylvania's minimum wage to $12 an hour with a path to $15 and remove local pre-emption. The passage of either bill would cement the administration's goal of putting workers first and, for the first time since 2006, raising the commonwealth's minimum wage via legislation.
In her remarks, Secretary Berrier highlighted the department's achievement of final-form regulations that change Pennsylvania's Minimum Wage Act rules by updating how employers pay tipped workers and ensuring that salaried employees with fluctuating schedules are appropriately compensated for overtime.
At today's event, Secretary Berrier and Rep. Hill-Evans toured the York City Pretzel Company building on East Market Street in York and spoke with co-owner Philip Given who shared why, despite inaction by lawmakers in Harrisburg, his shop chose on its own to pay employees a starting wage of $12 an hour.
"For us, a successful business starts with a successful team," said Given. "It's important for us as a company to hire at and advocate for a living wage for all employees in our industry. If we expect our employees to treat the customer and product with respect, they need to be treated with respect and that starts with their starting wage with our company."
"By raising their starting wage and offering benefits beyond higher pay, the York City Pretzel Company is helping to lead the way in providing a more equitable life for workers in Central Pennsylvania," said Rep. Hill-Evans. "Raising the minimum wage will help workers -- especially women — who make up a disproportionate number of people who work in low-paying jobs. York Pretzel Company is a great example of how a business can improve workers' quality of life, increase economic security and narrow the pay gap while still maintaining a successful business."
Thirty states, including all of Pennsylvania's neighbors, have a higher minimum wage than $7.25 an hour. Polls show the public strongly supports increasing the minimum wage. Over the past two decades, there have been ballot referendums to raise the minimum wage in 20 states, most recently in Florida – every one has passed. It is estimated that approximately 42 percent of the U.S. workforce will earn at least $15 an hour by 2026.
If the legislature were to take action to increase Pennsylvania's minimum wage, more than 618,400 women would get a direct pay increase – nearly 21 percent of all women working in the commonwealth. With most low-paying jobs held by women in Pennsylvania, the current minimum wage only promises to further worsen the gender pay gap.
Legislative action on Governor Wolf's proposal would also directly benefit 26.2 percent of persons of color, including:
- 31.9 percent of Hispanic workers
- 26.3 percent of Black (non-Hispanic) workers
- 15.7 percent of Asian (non-Hispanic) workers
- 25.8 percent of other races/ethnicities
For more information, you can visit www.dli.pa.gov, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Video and photos from today's event are available on PAcast.com.
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