Press Conference

Philadelphia, PA, December 18, 2019 – Democratic legislators from both chambers of the Pennsylvania General Assembly evoked The Grinch and Scrooge to denounce the inaction by House Republican leadership on Senate Bill 79, legislation that would raise Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by January 2022.

State Senators Christine M. Tartaglione and Art Haywood, and State Reps. Patty Kim and Christopher M. Rabb hosted the news conference with the support of their Democratic caucus colleagues and Secretary of Labor & Industry W. Gerard Oleksiak. All four lawmakers have introduced legislation aimed at modernizing Pennsylvania’s Minimum Wage Act to reflect the rising costs of living and raising families in the Commonwealth.

Senator Tartaglione, the primary sponsor of SB 79, read a passage from the Dr. Seuss classic, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” while comparing House Speaker Mike Turzai to the poem’s infamous title character.

“There are literally millions of ‘Whos’ living in every city, every small town, and every ‘Whoville’ across this great Commonwealth,” Senator Tartaglione (D-Philadelphia) said. “Unlike the loveable creatures in the Dr. Seuss classic, their plight is nothing to delight us every holiday season.”

“Raising the minimum wage has been a priority this year, and we have failed hardworking Pennsylvanians to pass this bill into law,” Senator Haywood (D-Montgomery/Philadelphia) said. “I stand here with my colleagues to continue to offer support for raising the minimum wage in Pennsylvania and pull hardworking families out of poverty.”

Representative Rabb (D-Philadelphia) extended the holiday theme by quoting Charles Dickens’ novel, “A Christmas Carol,” equating Speaker Turzai to Ebenezer Scrooge, and warning that the spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come may soon be paying him a visit.

“These working people aren’t asking for charity,” Representative Rabb said. “These people are working – working hard – for 40, 50 hours a week or more. These people are serving your Christmas dinners, cleaning the hotels your visiting relatives are staying at, and making sure you’ve got a place to get gas and batteries and milk when everything else is closed. They’re asking for the fair day’s pay for a hard day’s work they’ve earned and they’re owed.”

“The modest raise in Senate Bill 79 would make a major difference for so many families, especially families and households led by women,” Representative Kim (D-Dauphin) said. “I’m sad, I’m disappointed, but I’m also ready to fight until these people get the raise they’ve earned.”

Pennsylvania’s base minimum wage stands at the national minimum of $7.25 an hour and has not increased since 2009, when the federal rate took effect. Pennsylvania last enacted an increase to its minimum wage on July 9, 2006. That’s 4,910 days ago.

With strong bipartisan support, the Senate overwhelmingly adopted SB 79 on November 20. The legislation then moved to the House for consideration and was referred to its Labor & Industry Committee. House leaders have not advanced the bill or scheduled it for consideration by the committee.

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