Tartaglione Reappointed Labor Chair; Targets Minimum Wage
HARRISBURG, Jan. 8, 2013 – State Sen. Christine M. Tartaglione, recently re-appointed as Democratic chair of the Senate Labor and Industry Committee, said today she will use the position to push for changes in Pennsylvania’s minimum wage law in order to prevent working parents from sinking into poverty.
“This is the committee where I’m comfortable and this is the committee where I have had great experience and success,” she said. “Making sure there are jobs for everyone who wants to work and making sure those jobs pay enough to put food on the table have been my main focus in the Senate and that will remain the same.”
The last time Pennsylvania passed a minimum wage adjustment, in 2006, it came after six years of effort over three sessions and three different bills, Tartaglione said.
“Obviously it takes more than public support, it takes a great deal of communication with colleagues and a concerted effort by all of those who believe in fair wages,” she said. “We’ve done it before and we will do it again.”
In the most recent Senate session, Tartaglione introduced a bill that would have tied the state’s minimum wage to inflation, as ten other states have done. She tried to have language from the bill inserted in another wage bill being considered by the Labor and Industry Committee, but the amendment was tabled, rather than receiving a vote.
“Everyone knows that the public overwhelmingly supports fair wages,” she said. “In the states where minimum wage calculators were put before voters – even red states – they were approved overwhelmingly. It’s just a matter a getting past the special interests.”
Tartaglione was the author of the state’s last minimum wage bill, which raised the state’s lowest wage from $5.15 to $7.15 in several steps. Since then, the federal minimum wage was increased to $7.25.
After the last increase, Tartaglione said, Pennsylvania’s poverty rate took a steep decline, only to gradually increase to a 20-year-high in 2010.
“Paying minimum wages that don’t keep pace with inflation puts more burden on government services, like food stamps and child care,” Tartaglione said. “Putting and inflation index on our minimum wage would decrease that burden and create a predictable base for employers.”
In addition to the Labor and Industry Committee, Tartaglione has been appointed to the Senate Rules and Executive Nominations Committee where, as Democratic Caucus Secretary, she helps guide the administration’s nominations through the Senate confirmation process.
She has also been named to the Law and Justice and State Government committees.