In a Valentine present to Pennsylvania’s low-wage employers, the Republican majority in the State Assembly yesterday voted for the third time in as many weeks to block a Democratic-backed bill to raise the minimum wage. The vote came just as the Assembly started its break for the rest of the month.
The new rate, a pitiful $7.15/hr, is a substantial hike from the current $5.15 and is in line with new rates in New York and New Jersey. Blocking the bill from consideration is a way for the Republicans to maintain the current wage rate without members actually going on record as voting against the hike.
Two House Republicans defected from their party by voting in favor of considering the bill. In a message to supporters, Democratic House leaders Mike Veon and Mark Cohen say they see this move as a small but significant change; only ten more defectors will give the Dems the majority they need to finally bring the bill to an up-or-down vote. A number of Republicans have quietly assured constituents that they support the wage hike.
What you can do to help:
â€¢ Call your Republican Assemblyperson and urge their support for the (barely) livable new wage rate.
â€¢ If you’re in a Democratic district, you can contact Republican Rep. Brett Feese, chair of the Appropriations Committee, urging a floor vote.
Not sure who your Assemblyperson is? Use the “Find Members By” search block at the Pennsylvania General Assembly home page.
Rep. Mark Cohen, sponsor of the bill, is the son of recently deceased Philadelphia City Councilman-at-Large David Cohen, a long-time supporter of workers’ issues.