NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Workers representing several labor union advocacy groups joined with the mayors of New Brunswick and Perth Amboy today in urging state legislators to increase the minimum in New Jersey to $15 an hour.
"It's time for New Jersey to raise the minimum wage to a just wage," said New Brunswick resident Maria Gonzalez, a members of Workers United and the Service Employees International Union. "We can't stand any more delays. We need $15 now," she said.
New Brunswick Mayor James Cahill said former Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill that would have phased-in increases in the minimum wage, and said if that measure had been enacted, people currently earning minimum wage would have already seen an increase of $5,000 in their pay.
Cahill last month appeared with Gov. Phil Murphy and leaders of the legislature at a press conference in New Brunswick to call for enactment of a $15 minimum wage.
Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz, who also spoke at the rally today, said there are 120,000 workers in Middlesex County working for the current minimum wage of $8.60 per hour.
"You've got these large companies coming into Middlesex County. Yet the working families is still making $8.60 an hour. It's just unreasonable," Diaz said. "It is unconscionable for someone to work more than 40 hours a week and still struggle to pay their bills," she said.
Charlie Kratovil, an independent candidate mayor of New Brunswick, also attended the rally, though he was not a speaker. Afterward Kratovil said he had issued a statement last Labor Day proposing that all New Brunswick city employees be paid $15 per hour, and released a list of workers currently earning less.
Cahill said the vast majority of city workers are employed full-time and earn at least $15 an hour or more, as do most part-time workers. He said some part-time workers, including seasonal employees, are paid less. "We have made efforts to increase that," he said.