Minimum Wage

Flickr user Walter Lim

There are currently five bills in the Pennsylvania state Legislature that propose raising the minimum wage, and the most recently introduced is also the most ambitious, calling for the current minimum wage of $7.25/hour to more than double, to $15/hour.

Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Delaware, Montgomery) last week introduced the “One Fair Wage” bill, for which he is currently seeking co-sponsors. Leach said the bill would do three things.

The minimum wage debate continues on after a study released Wednesday says that 1.2 million workers in Pennsylvania would benefit from a minimum wage increase.  

The study conducted by the left-leaning Keystone Research Center broke down the statistics of who was working for minimum wage in each county. They examined their gender, age, race, education, family income and family demographics.

Essential Pittsburgh: The Local 'Fight for 15'

Apr 14, 2015
pennsylvanianow.org

On Wednesday, April 15th, low-wage workers around the country are going on strike. They’re coming together to demand the minimum wage be raised to $15 an hour. We’re previewing the rally taking place here in Pittsburgh with Rev. Richard Freeman, President of the Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network, and fast food worker Ashona Osborne. 

Rev. Freeman explains the rally and the involvement of PIIN by saying:

 "Central to the rally is -- rooted in our moral thought -- that everybody who works 40 hours a week should be able to sustain their families. ... I think the problem is a moral problem. Ergo, that's why the Pennsylvania Inferfaith Impact Network and our congregations are engaged." -- Rev. Richard Freeman

Asked to explain the difficulties of living on the current minimum wage, Osborne explains:

"7.25 is just chump change. I have to decide which bill is more important that week and let the other one slip until my next paycheck. ... That's either: do I pay rent off this paycheck, or do I go food shopping? Do I get my baby clothes or do I pay my light bill? And it shouldn't be like that." -- Ashona Osborne

Also in the program, Robert Morris University professor Brian O'Roark offers his assessment of how the enactment of a $15 minimum wage would impact workers, employers and the economy, and Post-Gazette reporter Len Barcousky describes how, 150 years ago today, the first presidential assassination threw the nation, and its major media outlets, for an unprecedented loop. 

Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

 The “Fight for $15” will take to the streets of Pittsburgh April 15th.

A small group of fast food workers and Pittsburgh organization heads gathered Tuesday in front of the Northside McDonalds to announce plans to strike for an increased minimum wage.

Lolene Germany, a worker at KFC, said the strike will call for fair treatment in the workplace as well as fair wages.

“We wanted to let people know that if you support what we’re doing and you feel like you’re being disrespected at work, wherever you work – at a healthcare, fast food, retail – just come out and fight with us,” Germany said. “And let them know that you’re going to get your respect and you’re going get what you deserve.”

401(K) 2012/Flickr

  Employees working at small businesses within Pittsburgh could see a raise in their paychecks.

City Councilman Corey O’Connor introduced legislation Tuesday he hopes incentivizes small businesses (15 to 250 employees) to raise their wage for full-time employees – currently $7.25 – to $10.10 per hour.  For restaurants employees who receive tips, the legislation aims to increase their minimum wage from $2.83 to $3.93 per hour.

Julian Routh / WESA

More than 100 fast food workers and supporters marched along Allegheny Avenue in the North Side Thursday morning to fight for a minimum wage hike.

The protest started at the Emmanuel Episcopal Church and ended at the Wendy’s restaurant two blocks away, where the workers marched through the drive-through. The supporters also entered the doors of the McDonald’s next door to yell chants including, “We can’t survive on $7.25.”

To earn a living wage for a family of four while only making minimum wage, the two adults in that family would each have to work 68 hours a week. Another option, according to state Rep. Dom Costa (D-Allegheny), is to raise the current $7.25 minimum wage so that families in Pennsylvania could buy groceries and live comfortably while earning minimum wage.

Micheal Lynch / 90.5 WESA

The nationwide fight over a higher minimum wage for fast food workers landed eight Pittsburgh-area protesters behind bars Thursday.

More than 100 workers and supporters hit the streets in front of the McDonald’s restaurant in Wilkinsburg demanding wages of $15 an hour and union representation.

Local fast food workers have been holding rallies, pickets and job walk offs for months, but Thursday’s event was supported by similar rallies planned in nearly 150 U.S. cities.

Thousands of Disabled Workers in PA Paid Far Below Minimum Wage

Jul 27, 2014
Martha Rial / PublicSource

About 13,000 disabled Pennsylvanians are earning an average of $2.40 an hour in a legal use of subminimum wages.

The majority work almost solely with other disabled people, in a world tucked away from the mainstream labor market.

They’re given menial tasks, like folding boxes, shredding paper or packing mail inserts.

Since 1986, there has been no limit to how little they can be paid. And even the federal government, which issues the certificates that allow employers to pay subminimum wages, doesn’t track the hourly earnings of the workers.

Is It Time to Raise the Minimum Wage?

Jul 22, 2014
Olivia Becker / Vice News

Seattle has raised their minimum wage to $15 an hour, CEO's wages continue to increase, and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is recommending that the city minimum wage be increased to $13 an hour. On the Federal level, President Obama hopes to increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

While some people are on Emanuel and Obama's side and believe that increasing the minimum wage will help people out of poverty, critics feel the minimum wage should be eliminated altogether.

Brian O’ Roark, a professor of economics at Robert Morris University weighs the pros and cons of the minimum wage decision.

LetsGoDine.com

Last Wednesday, the US Senate voted down a proposal by President Obama to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour.

Many contend that such a steep raise would cripple job growth and small businesses. Others say more money and spending power for workers would be a boost for the economy overall. 

Art Helms, a Wendy’s employee and member of One Pittsburgh has been organizing for fair pay and a union for fast food workers in Pittsburgh.

He said he makes less than $10 per hour and has worked for Wendy’s for 27 years. 

A Pennsylvania lawmaker is pushing for legislation that would increase the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour over the next two years.

Under Senate Bill 1300, the minimum wage would jump to $8.20 an hour beginning July 1, 2014. On Jan. 1, 2015, wages would increase again to $9.50 an hour and then $10.10 an hour one year later.

The bill’s sponsor, State Sen. Tina Tartaglione (D-Philadelphia), said after that, it will be up to local governments to set the wage.

It’s not uncommon for individual municipalities to set a minimum wage that is higher than the state- and federally-mandated rate. As of Jan. 1, San Franciscans are making at least $10.55 an hour, compared to the California minimum wage of $8.

Now, state representative Seth Grove (R-York) wants to make that kind of municipal legislation illegal in Pennsylvania.

Recent rumblings over the Pennsylvania minimum wage may foreshadow a flashpoint in the gubernatorial election.

Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, has expressed uneasiness with the idea of raising the state’s 7.25 dollar wage.

"I’m not going to go into details right now," he said. "I’ve made a statement on that before and I’m going to stay by that."

He told the Times-Leader of Wilkes-Barre he’s concerned raising the wage may put a damper on Pennsylvania’s economy.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale is calling on Gov. Tom Corbett and the Legislature to raise the state’s minimum wage from the current $7.25.

“As the state’s fiscal watchdog, I think this would be good for the state budget," DePasquale said. "I believe it would help stimulate the economy and most importantly, it’s just the right thing to do to put money in the pockets of working families who have gone without a raise for far too long."

PA Minimum Wage Battle Heats Up

Dec 15, 2013

As the national debate continues over an increase to the federal minimum wage, politicians on both sides of the aisle are speaking out about Pennsylvania’s version of the pay floor.

Currently, state law sets the minimum hourly wage at $7.25, which in line with the national law. Washington D.C. and 19 states have a higher minimum. 

California lawmakers recently approved legislation to raise their state minimum wage to $10 an hour by 2015.

State Sen. Tina Tartaglione (D-Philadelpia) has introduced similar legislation that would increase Pennsylvania minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.00 an hour.

Senate Bill 858 would increase the minimum wage 50 cents this year, another 50 cents in 2014 and 75 cents in 2015. After that there would be annual cost-of-living increases. Tartaglione feels confident of the bill’s approval as it already has a dozen co-sponsors in the Senate, though none are Republicans.

American Jewish Congress records / wikipedia

The group One Pittsburgh is commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington by staging a protest at the Strip District McDonald’s drive thru, Saturday. Protest organizer, Calvin Skinner says people often forget that the 1963 March on Washington was titled, “the march for jobs and freedom.”

“The March on Washington was always about Civil Rights,” says Skinner “But also about economic rights and economic justice and that’s a story that is not told. It’s a place where we’ve lost significant ground in this country.”

Trying to Live on the Minimum Wage

Aug 5, 2013
Elyce Feliz / flickr

Originally meant to protect American workers from being exploited, the Fair Labor Standards Act was enacted in 1938 and set mandatory federal minimum wages at 25 cents per hour.  In the years following, congress and the President acted to raise minimum wage to keep up with inflation and productivity. Around the 1980’s, it became much more difficult to get a labor wage bill out of congress and the term “living wage” circulates to replace the widely criticized minimum wage.  Many protesters and researchers find that the minimum wage does not reflect the actual cost of living and no longer keeps pace with the country’s economic growth. Labor Economist Mark Price of the Keystone Research Center in Harrisburg shares his statistical findings and suggestions for improvement.

Martha Rial / PublicSource


Pennsylvania ranks fourth in the country -- behind Texas, Alabama and Florida -- for the number of hotels with labor law violations, according to the Department of Labor and a recent PublicSource story. This includes wage and child labor violations.

PublicSource Reporter Leah Samuel says because many hotel workers are low skilled and in the hospitality industry, where tips may be given, they’re especially vulnerable to wage violations.

“In Pennsylvania, you can actually pay someone as low as $2.83 an hour if they receive tips,”  Samuel explains. So even if a hotel worker normally gets paid at or above the minimum wage, when it comes to overtime, the rate might be 1.5 times that $2.83, which is illegal.

“It’s supposed to be 1.5 times the regular wage they would receive, minus something called the ‘tip credit’.”

Deanna Garcia/90.5 WESA News

Hannah Williams works for a temp agency where she makes minimum wage: $7.25 per hour. The single mother also goes to school. She said her job doesn’t provide the living she and needs.