PA Ruling Class Sees Pitchforks Coming, Advances Laughable Bill to Preserve Poverty Wages

Reject Wagner’s Poverty Wage ‘Compromise’

Across the United States a surging movement of the working class is fighting for at least a $15 an hour minimum wage. Fast Food and Walmart workers are organizing and striking for a $15/hour wage, alongside mass demonstrations like the MLK Day of Action, Resistance and Empowerment on January 19th, 2015. During this historic march, 7,000 people took the streets of Philadelphia calling for  racial justice, education funding, a $15/hour minimum wage, and union rights.

Americans overwhelmingly support this call for dramatically higher wages: a recent poll by the National Employment Law Center found 63% of Americans support a $15 an hour minimum wage.  Here in Philadelphia, economists broadly recognize the need for a minimum wage of at least $17/hour for all Philadelphia workers, just so a parent can afford a two bedroom apartment in the city. For companies in Philadelphia, a $15 an hour minimum wage is a bargain.

Even Tea Party PA Republican Senator Scott Wagner can no longer deny the power of this movement. Senator Wagner recently introduced a  weak tea bill to phase in a laughable increase in the State Minimum wage to $8.75 over three years, while locking in a substandard $7.25 ‘training wage’, and only a small increase in the tipped minimum wage (which should be totally eliminated). Senator Wagner’s bill also fails to clarify the power of municipalities to raise wages on a local basis.

This bill is a naked attempt to cut across the public debate on raising the wage and divide the forces fighting for an increase by offering a ‘reasonable’ compromise. But for working class families in Pennsylvania, Wagner’s ‘poverty preservation’ bill is way too little, and way too late. The terms of this poverty wage bill are an outright insult to workers who have been organizing for $15 an hour and a union, taking risks at their workplace, confronting abuse managers and organizing their coworkers for mass strikes in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

All organizations fighting to raise the minimum wage in Pennsylvania need to come together to oppose this rotten bill. Senator Wagner acknowledges the inevitability of a minimum wage hike and wants to lock in poverty wages in PA for as long as possible. We initiated our campaign to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour based on what working class families need for basic economic security, not on what we thought was a ‘reasonable’ compromise. It is up to those opposed to raising the wage to propose ‘compromise’ language. We do not bargain with ourselves.

We know one thing for certain: this senator and other politicians who continue to support poverty wages clearly represent the interests of the wealthiest 1%.  At a time when corporations make record profits and CEOs make upwards of ten thousand dollars per hour, we must unite to fight for what working class people need. We can no longer accept the unprecedented levels of income inequality in our nation.

The fight for $15 an hour minimum wage marches forward in Philadelphia and across PA. Senator Wagner’s bill shows that business interests see the glare of pitchforks on the horizon.  The polls will continue to tell what we already know: the movement for $15 is coming. And we will not be stopped.

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15 Now Solidarity Statement with Today’s Demo against Keystone XL Pipeline Construction

Just like the struggle for a universal $15 an hour minimum wage, fighting for a healthy sustainable planet is a working class issue. From the toxic underground plumes near the oil refineries in South Philadelphia to the new plans to make Philadelphia an “Energy Hub” and privatize PGW, working people bear the brunt of the impact when corporations profit off environmental destruction.
Instead of Keystone XL, we need a massive federal green investment program to combat global warming. President Obama must push for aggressive investment in renewable energy and new efficient technologies to replace fossil fuels. Workers in the phased out industries should be offered full pensions or job retraining at union rates of pay. Economists have proven over and over that the Keystone XL pipeline will not create a significant amount of permanent jobs that will benefit American workers.
Locally, investment in sustainable energy would create thousands of jobs in Philly. This type of federal investment would open huge opportunities for our youth and the unemployed in communities across the country. Together with a $15 an hour minimum wage and the guaranteed right to form unions our country would radically reduce poverty and improve the quality of life for Philadelphians.

 Furthermore, projects that damage our environment overwhelmingly impact workers who already live in poverty. Families of color and families in low income neighborhoods suffer devastating health problems caused by pollution related to fossil fuel production and industrial waste.
As we fight for a global economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy elite, working class people must continue to tie together the common issues of income inequality, environmental sustainability, racism, and the right to health and healthcare. $15 Now is proud to stand behind workers protesting the KXL pipeline and rejecting the notion that we must sacrifice our health and environment for short term gains for the elite.

Struggle for $15 Minimum Wage Gains Local Endorsers

15 Now Philly, the group advocating for a $15 an hour minimum wage in Philadelphia, has recently secured important new endorsements from local allies in the fight for 15. Momentum has grown tremendously over the past two months after 15 Now held a large rally outside city hall on November 19th. Just days later, in Philadelphia and across the country, dozens of fast food workers walked off their jobs and took the streets demanding $15 an hour and a union.  These worker-driven mass actions demonstrated to low wage employers and local politicians that it is time for big changes to local minimum wage laws.

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City Council didn’t take long to act. On December 11th, 2nd District City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson introduced a resolution to hold a hearing on the $15 minimum wage. The resolution was passed unanimously by City Council, and 15 Now anticipates the hearing on lifting the minimum wage will be held near the end of February.

In addition to growing traction in City Hall, new community endorsers have backed the $15 an hour minimum wage in Philly. The Martin Luther King Day of Action Resistance and Empowerment Coalition of faith and #BlackLivesMatter organizations has lifted the $15 an hour minimum wage demand as one of three key demands. Thousands of people will march on Center City on MLK Day (January 19th) to demand racial, economic and legal justice for people of color.

Additionally, the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools (PCAPS), a powerful alliance of community and labor groups in the city, has endorsed ’15 Now.’ The Philadelphia Restaurant Opportunities Center, a restaurant worker organizing group fighting along to eliminate the tipped minimum wage, is backing 15 Now.

Northwest Philadelphia movers-and-shakers Neighborhood Networks endorsed 15 Now. Neighborhood Networks has already begun applying pressure to City Council representatives, and has kicked off a massive petition drive in Germantown and Mt Airy.

The $15 an hour demand is gaining support rapidly as members push towards the February hearings. Other endorsed include the Temple Nurses Union, Youth United for Change (YUC),  the PFT Caucus of Working Educators, Councilwoman Janie Blackwell, the Coalition of Labor Union Women, the Jewish Labor Committees, the PA Postal Workers union and others.

If your group would like to endorse ’15 Now Philly,’ please e-mail kateagoodman@gmail.com.

And help us turn the heat up on City Council by making a phone call to your Council member today!


 You can donate critical resources directly to the Philly campaign here 


Or become a National Sustainer to help with the Philadelphia work and campaigns across the country1798048_701500889883806_1888545724_n