By James Dombrowski
PASSAIC, NJ – Newly elected Governor Phil Murphy convened a summit panel on Monday, February 12th to begin the legislative process needed to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. “It’s great to see the Governor keeping his word on the $15 minimum wage so quickly ,” voiced Sen. Paul Sarlo of District 36. The Senator took part on the panel summit addressing the importance of raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour.
Photo: Passaic Mayor Hector Lora and Governor Murphy host the opening summit.
The summit took place in Passaic, New Jersey, led by Gov. Murphy and the Passaic Mayor Hector Lora. Passaic is one of the poorest cities in America; full of minimum wage earners struggling to pay their rent and feed their families.
The summit also addressed the need for mandatory paid sick leave to go along with the $15 minimum wage. “$15 is not an abstract number as $8.66 is not a magic number. Even $15 per hour in the 21st Century has you earning below the poverty line. It’s not only a wage for teens, but for many individuals over 20 years old who are trying to support their families making the minimum wage,” voiced a concerned Gov. Murphy.
Sitting on the panel was District 36 Senator Paul Sarlo, a proponent of the $15 minimum wage, along with Assemblymen Gary Schaer and Clinton Calabrese. “I understand it will need a phase-in and look forward to working with the Legislature in getting the legislation passed ,” noted Gov. Murphy.
In photo from left to right: Carlos – a minimum wage worker, District 36 State Senator Paul Sarlo, Rutherford Librarian,District 36 Assemblyman Gary Schaer, restaurant owner Izzy Demiroski
Governor Murphy also addressed the issue of earned sick leave as being sensible and an important means to improving morale. Sen. Sarlo was quick to note that the Governor never wavered on the $15 minimum wage and said that it was important that the right balance be found to help all the businesses in the state. There were 4 minimum wage earners on the panel and 1 business owner who believed the $15 wage was fair and actually would help businesses as the workers would have more to spend. Izzy Demiroski, a small business owner, who owns Bella Pizza located at 5 Broad Street in Elizabeth is a proponent of paid sick leave which he gives his employees and the $15 minimum wage.
The Passaic Mayor complimented Governor Murphy on sticking to his conviction of raising the minimum wage.
In photo: Newly seated District 36 Assemblyman (on the right) Clinton Calabrese addresses the Governor and the other participants taking part in the $15 minimum wage summit.