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Longtime Allies Together Again for Minimum Wage Fight

Some of the same people that helped deliver a victory seven years ago joined me at a news conference in Philadelphia this week to announce a new push to raise Pennsylvania’s minimum wage.

The group gathered at City Hall for the press briefing and it included Sen. Vince Hughes,  labor economist Mark Price, and John Dodds, director of the Philadelphia Unemployment Project and a longtime ally in the fight for fair wages.

The last minimum wage increase in Pennsylvania came in 2009, when the federal minimum wage rose to $7.25.  It was in 2006 that my bill was signed into law raising Pennsylvania’s minimum  wage from the federal minimum of $5.15 to $7.15 in several steps.

Since then, I have been introducing legislation to add an automatic inflation adjustment to the wage as 10 states have already done.  That would prevent inflation from eroding the buying power of low-income families.

Those bills have languished in the Republican –dominated Labor and Industry Committee, despite attempts to have the provisions amended to other related bills.

It will be more difficult this time for the majority to avoid a vote on the minimum wage.  New York passed their minimum wage increase months ago and New Jersey voters are expected to overwhelmingly approve a hike in that state’s minimum wage at the ballot box this November. (A recent poll in New Jersey put support for a $9 minimum wage at 76 percent.)

With that kind of public support, and the work of great partners in organized labor, community groups and religious organizations, I believe we have the momentum we need to bring relief to thousands of low-income families.

In addition to the inflation adjustment I announced earlier this year, I also introduced Senate Bill 858, which would raise the minimum wage to $9.00 per hour by 2015 to account for years of inflation.

This week, I introduced Senate Bill 1099 to boost the minimum wage for tipped employees, which has remained unchanged at $2.83 an hour for 15 years. The new tipped wage would be 70 percent of the regular minimum wage.

Both bills will raise these wages in increments to ensure employers are not financially overburdened. And both bills will help employees earn more livable wages.

Also joining me for the announcement were: Elizabeth McElroy, Secretary-Treasurer of Philadelphia AFL-CIO and Kathy Black, President of the Coalition of Labor Union Women.


Senior Expos Growing in Popularity

Hundreds of people turned out yesterday for my Senior Expo at the Mayfair Community Center.  For more than a decade, these events have continued to grow and I see many of the same faces year after year.  Over the years I’ve expanded to two expos a yaer in different parts of the district.

I think the Senior Expos are continuing to grow because life has become more and more complicated for people as they get older.  Dramatic changes in health care, threats to the integrity of Social Security, and the computer takeover of nearly all facets of life are among the concerns heard by the dozens of organizations that turn out to answer questions.

That’s not to say getting older has gotten harder.  Far from it.  While health-care billing and insurance have gone through complicated changes, health-care advances have improved the quality of life for seniors.  If they can get answers to the questions they need, computers can be an enormous benefit to those who have a hard time getting around.

That’s why hundreds of people turn out for the Senior Expos to get the latest news about products and services and to deal face to face with government agencies.  I greatly appreciate the help of the many volunteers and sponsors who help make them a success.

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Watch Live PA & U.S. UNEMPLOYMENT RATE (6/12 - 2/13)