by Alex Lloyd Gross
Dec 20, 2021
Pennsylvania Republican Representative Jim Cox could not care any less about PA workers, according to many workers themselves and proponents to raise the state minimum wage. Jim Cox is the chair of the Labor and Industry Committee and he, along with every lawmaker in PA gets a cost of living raise of $5000.00. This as Cox refuses to even discus the state minimum wage in his committee.. It’s not that the issue does not come up. Rep Cox decides what issues get voted out of his committee and what does not. Cox is listening to highly paid lobbyists like Eugene Barr, who does not want the wage to go up. The majority of state residents do want it to go up.
21 states including all of the states that border PA have or will raise their minimum wage towards $15/hr. in 2022. In Delaware the rate is going up to $11.50. In New Jersey it’s going to $13.00/hr. New York is at $15/hr. Even West Virginia lawmakers respect their workers more than Cox respects ours, according to proponents of a wage increase. When asked, many employers claim to pay more than $7.25/hr .
Then there is no reason to not raise it. There are billion dollar companies that pay workers less in PA than their counterparts across the state line for the same work. They do that because they can. Inflation has taken it’s toll on workers in PA and still, there are signs up that are hiring for $8 to $9.50/hr. or less. The cost of labor has gone up, but not for minimum wage workers. A shipper that once made $10 pre- pandemic is now making $16 or more. By and large a worker making $9-9.50/hr pre pandemic is making the same.
In the meantime, state lawmakers voted themselves a cost of living increase that goes up every year. Due to inflation, this year it’s $5000. Advocates say employers are raising prices in PA but keeping wages suppressed, thinking the general public does not know any better. It’s been almost 14 years since the minimum wage went up in PA.
Opponents to raising the wage say the business should be the arbiter of who gets paid what. If you don’t like it, leave. The issue with that is that due to personal issues with some people, they are stuck at that job. Contrary to what you may believe, the average lower wage worker in PA makes $10/hr or less and works for an employer that will not be affected by paying more. Those workers point to already raised prices.
President Joe Biden had the opportunity to raise the wage at the start of his term, however, he instructed Vice President Kamala Harris not to overrule the Parliamentarian and include it in the American Rescue Plan. Raising the wage to $10.00/hr would affect thousands of people. Raising it to $15/hr would affect millions of Pennsylvania workers. Not even bringing up for a vote makes two or three overpaid lobbyists very happy.
Senator Jake Corman wants to be governor. He voted to raise the wage to $9.50 a few years ago which passed the senate and died in the house. Many feel he should deal with this issue once and for all while he is still in the senate, and not have to deal with it on the campaign. He is tin the leadership of the senate and as a leader he gets more than a $5000 raise .