On January 30th, Governor Tom Wolf stood with Pennsylvania workers to announce a proposal to put all Pennsylvanians on a path to a $15 minimum wage.
“Pennsylvania workers who provide our commonwealth’s most critical services have seen their wages stagnate while those at the top receive an ever-increasing share of the wealth. Our neighbors in Ohio, New York, New Jersey, West Virginia, Delaware and Maryland have all raised wages and standards of living for workers, while here in Pennsylvania our minimum wage is actually 10 cents below the federal minimum wage,” said Matt Yarnell, President of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania and Secretary-Treasurer of the SEIU PA State Council. “There is a commonsense solution – raise the minimum wage while ensuring that all workers have the right to join together in union to bargain for better wages, benefits, and quality of life.”
“Raising the minimum wage would make a real difference in my life. Just a couple more dollars an hour would allow me to do more than just survive from paycheck to paycheck. I could afford rent on my own and wouldn’t have to choose which bill I can leave for next month,” said homecare worker Stephanie Williams.
Pennsylvania is far behind on boosting wages for hardworking Americans – The PA minimum wage has remained flat for decades. Last month alone, more than 5 million workers in 20 states and in 24 cities and counties around the nation will earn a higher minimum wage.
The Keystone Research Center in 2018 found that raising the wage to $15 would lift wages for 2.1 million Pennsylvania workers (or 37% of workforce). In addition, a higher wage would generate significant savings in the state Medicaid program and additional tax revenues.
Lolita Owens, a home care worker from Philadelphia, spoke at the Harrisburg capitol on February 4th about what raising the minimum wage would mean to her, and to the future of caring for our aging population.
“There is only one home care worker for every 8 people who need care in PA. But the wages are so low, people don’t stay in this work,” said Owens. “I have a compassionate love for this work, but I don’t make enough to survive, let alone take care of my family.”
After the event in the capitol rotunda, a group of home care workers sat down with legislators to talk more about their lives and their work.