Representatives, testifiers advocate to Raise the Wage
House Majority Policy Committee pushes need to increase $7.25 minimum wage
HARRISBURG, March 27 – Hosting a hearing based on an issue that has dominated years of work by representatives and advocates in the room, the House Majority Policy Committee heard from testifiers detailing the need to raise the minimum wage in Pennsylvania.
“It’s long, long past the time for the General Assembly to raise the wage … the time for action was yesterday,” said home health care worker Genale Rambler in detailing the crisis many workers are facing. “The General Assembly should be responsible to workers like me so that we can earn a living wage. All we want to be able to do is take care of our families.”
Rambler testified how she earns less per hour than the caregivers she sometimes needs to hire to care for both of her parents when she is unable to care for them.
“We are here to fight on behalf of workers, and – I think I can speak for my colleagues here today – we will not stop until we get it done,” said hearing host Rep. Roni Green from Philadelphia. “The old cliché holds true, a happy worker is a productive worker. We can do better, we must do better.”
The minimum wage in Pennsylvania has remained unchanged at $7.25 per hour since 2008. About 63,000 people in Pennsylvania earn minimum wage.
“Too many people have worked too hard for too long to not be able to pay their bills,” hearing co-host Rep. Patty Kim said. “We want to tag a cost-of-living adjustment on this, so we never have to wait years and years – or wait for a once-in-a-century pandemic – for this issue to have a bright light shined on it.”
All of Pennsylvania’s neighboring states have a higher minimum wage than Pennsylvania. Testifiers highlighted that costs of items are not solely dependent on labor, and they listed how the cost of specific items in Philadelphia, Erie and across the state border – where workers earn more money – are exactly the same.
“I’m honored to be a part of this moment and to be a part of this movement, but I also think it is important to place a spotlight on the fact why we are here today,” hearing co-host Rep. Chris Rabb said. “In spite of the work of many of the people sitting in this room today, until recently all standing committees that dealt with this issue were run by Republicans who refused to run any bill that dealt directly with raising minimum wage. I am glad to say, we have seen great change in Harrisburg in recent months.”
A minimum wage worker in Pennsylvania would need to make $16.95 an hour to afford a one-bedroom apartment. Unlike a popular myth, testifiers detailed that the vast majority of minimum wage workers (86%) are adults and not teenagers working summer jobs.
“People across Pennsylvania want to work, but they also need to earn a living wage during these difficult times,” House Majority Policy Committee Chairman Ryan Bizzarro said. “We can either raise the minimum wage to a reasonable amount or Pennsylvania will be forced to provide public assistance and social safety networks for workers – including those working 40 hours per week – just to survive.”
Information about this hearing and other House Majority Policy Committee hearings can be found at pahouse.com/policy. Photos to be used for publication can be found at pahouse.com/PolicyCommittee/Galleries.