On Women’s Equality Day, Officials Call for Increased Minimum Wage

August 26, 2013 | Politics
Lawmakers, labor groups and community advocates came together this Women's Equality Day to highlight the need to raise the minimum wage in New Jersey.

By Dari Kotzker
NJ Today

Today, There were Democratic lawmakers, labor groups and community activists and their message was clear. The voting rights women got 93 years ago today are still a force for good.

“It changed the face of the American electorate forever. On Nov. 5, women will use their vote to change the Constitution of the state of New Jersey by voting to raise the wage from $7.25 an hour to $8.25 an hour with an adjustment annual cost of living,” said New Jersey State AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Laurel Brennan.

“I think it’s important that if we are serious about moving forward, if we are serious about celebrating women’s accomplishments, then we need to be serious about standing for and committing ourselves to economic equality here in New Jersey,” said gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono.

Many speakers criticized Chris Christie’s veto of the minimum wage bill. Now it’s a referendum question on the November ballot, and some Democrats think it could be the key to helping Buono beat Christie.

“Absolutely the ballot question will help her win the race because the people that are going to go out and vote yes on this ballot question are the ones that know that they need to have her as governor,” said Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman.

Watson Coleman thinks there’s another campaign strategy that will also help tighten the race.

“When Cory Booker gets done talking about Democratic values when he goes through the senatorial campaign and she piggy backs on talking about Democratic values for the working class, the middle class, the everyday person and family, people are going to recognize,” Watson Coleman said.

At the event today, Senate President Steve Sweeney stressed that voters need to hear how passing this referendum would impact people’s lives.

“When you give the working poor a little more money, they actually spend it. It actually gets back into businesses and communities,” Sweeney said. “We’re committed, we’re going to work together from one end of the state to the other. Every community, register people to vote, because you can’t vote for a raise unless you’re registered to vote.”

Equal pay between men and women was also a hot topic today. Studies say a woman makes 78 cents for every dollar a man makes. And minorities face even more pay discrimination.

“As a Latina woman and to other African-American women, the gap is even higher. There is something wrong when we have to continue to demand equal pay for equal work, but if that is what we have to do, we’re gonna continue that demand,” said Milly Silva, who is running for lieutenant governor with Buono.

Minimum wage workers earn approximately $15,000 a year. This November, they’ll get a chance to vote themselves a raise.