Gov. Wolf: Stop Disrespecting Workers by Finally Raising the Minimum Wage
January 27, 2022
Calling Pennsylvania’s embarrassingly low minimum wage disrespectful to workers and families, Governor Tom Wolf joined legislators, workers and a Montgomery County business today to call on the General Assembly to finally raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour with a path to $15.
“The fact that Pennsylvania’s minimum wage hasn’t increased in 15 years is an embarrassment,” said Gov. Wolf. “It’s an insult to hardworking Pennsylvanians, and it means businesses and communities in Pennsylvania are getting left behind. Hardworking people can’t wait any longer. I call on Republican lawmakers in the General Assembly to step up and take action on behalf of workers, businesses, and our economy.”
The governor’s plan increases the wage floor to $12 per hour on July 1, with annual increases of $0.50 until reaching $15 per hour on July 1, 2028. Nearly 25 percent of workers in Pennsylvania, 1.5 million people, would get a boost in pay at $15 per hour. Improving incomes will allow many people, especially women, parents and people of color, to better afford their needs, like housing, groceries, transportation and child care.
Gov. Wolf has proposed a minimum wage increase each year he has been in office and is urging the General Assembly to pass Sen. Christina Tartaglione’s S.B. 12 or Rep. Patty Kim’s H.B. 345 to create the $12 minimum wage that moves to $15.
Citing the need to provide their workers with a living wage, Montgomery County raised their minimum wage to $15 per hour in 2021 for all 2,800 of their full and part time employees.
Ten states and the District of Columbia have laws that will phase in a $15 minimum wage, including the red state of Florida, and nearly half of U.S. states will raise the wage floor this year. Twenty-nine states already have a higher wage than Pennsylvania, including our neighboring states: Delaware ($10.50); Maryland ($12.20); New Jersey ($13); New York ($13.20); Ohio ($9.30); and West Virginia ($8.75).
The governor was joined for a press conference at &pizza in Willow Grove by House Democratic Leader Joanna McClinton, Sen. Art Haywood, and several other legislators along with Kelly Maguire, general manager of &pizza.
“As someone who hires and trains employees, I’ve seen firsthand what &pizza’s wages and benefits mean for our staff,” said Maguire. “People are making a living and aren’t worried all the time about making rent and paying other bills. That creates a much better environment for everyone working and for our customers. Happy employees make all the difference in ensuring customers have an excellent experience and keep coming back.”
Michael Lastoria, founder and CEO of &pizza, added. “Since the start of the pandemic, &pizza has opened 20 new locations and we are planning to open many more – including a new shop in Philadelphia next week. Higher wages are the single clearest way to say to our workforce, ‘We value you.’ Fair pay leads to better employee retention and productivity, and to increased consumer spending. Raising Pennsylvania’s minimum wage will be good for business and good for workers.”
According to the MIT Living Wage calculator, a single adult in Pennsylvania needs to earn $13.39 per hour to support themself and a single adult with one child needs $27.57 per hour to support their family.
“We’ve watched the buying power of Pennsylvania’s minimum wage plummet over the past decade,” said McClinton. “Raising the minimum wage is about valuing Pennsylvania’s workforce, ensuring fair pay and dignity for hard work, and helping more women – including countless essential workers – emerge from poverty.”
Studies have shown that when the minimum wage goes up, workers keep their jobs. In fact, economist David Card won a Nobel Prize in 2021 in part for research showing that minimum wage increases do not hinder hiring. It also allows people to work their way off of public assistance rather than having taxpayers subsidizing employers paying poverty wages. One fair wage saves tax dollars, grows the middle class, and creates new customers for businesses, which benefits all of us.
On Tuesday, Gov. Wolf raised the minimum wage for state employees to $15 per hour effective Jan. 31, 2022, and President Joe Biden recently set a $15 wage floor for federal employees. Gov. Wolf has fought for workers’ rights and fair wages throughout his administration. Last fall, the governor unveiled a series of proposals to improve worker pay and paid sick leave and keep employees safe on the job.
“Thank you Governor Wolf for raising the minimum wage for commonwealth employees to $15 per hour starting on January 31,” said Sen. Haywood. “Paying at least $15 per hour shows respect for the dignity of all people. I commend businesses like &pizza for implementing a $15 minimum wage, and it’s time for other private companies to do the same.”
“When basic human needs cannot be met earning minimum wage, something is wrong,” said Rep. Ben Sanchez. “When a young single mother comes into my office telling me that she works hard over 40 hours a week and still can’t provide food for her son, or shelter over their heads, because she cannot pay rent and buy food in the same month, there’s something wrong. We can no longer say that we can’t afford to pay our employees a better salary when every other state around us has successfully done so. We need to Raise the Wage and protect our workers and their families and I support the governor’s efforts to do so.”
&pizza, a fast casual pizza restaurant chain with nearly 60 locations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Washington D.C., Virginia and Massachusetts, credits paying a living wage to its hourly employees as an essential part of its continued growth and success, even during the pandemic.