$15 An Hour: Come On Democrats, Keep Your Word

It costs a lot of money to live in New Jersey. Our pitiful minimum wage makes it near impossible for people who work 40hrs a week to afford an apartment anywhere in the state. For a family, even two adults working full-time cannot pay for an apartment and basic expenses. Instead of hovering in the $8.00 range we should be heading to $15.00, incrementally, so that by 2022 we have arrived. A lot of thought and energy has been put into this corrective hourly wage.

All through last year’s election cycle Democrats in the Assembly and Senate talked about how they’d let the people of New Jersey decide about $15/hr.,with no carve outs for certain sectors of the economy. This would be decided with a November, 2017 Constitutional Amendment. Now, however, some Democrats are seeking carve outs for farm workers and younger workers, and based on these demands, the $15/hr plan looks like it will (conveniently for those who weren’t really believers anyway), miss its deadline of December 12th. If it’s not voted on by a simple majority on that date it becomes near impossible to bring it before voters next November.

Claiming support for $15/hr helped people win elections, but creative infighting is allowing those same elected officials the chance to get off the hook from their commitment—a commitment troubling to many business owners who are often their political donors.

Sometimes hard choices need to be made. It’s time to make the minimum wage decision thinking firstly about the needs of those who are ‘last’, instead of always letting the needs of ‘the first’ win the day. Senate and Assembly members who have pushed for a no-carve-out minimum wage increase need to follow through and get this Constitutional Amendment before voters, or they should face the consequences at the polls.

Allow the Constitutional Amendment about minimum wage to really move forward unhindered, and, if you’ve got real concerns about it, then have the guts to encourage voters why they should be against it over the next 12 months. That would be honest. What isn’t honest is to support $15 when it helps your chances at the polls, and then to ditch it when it might work against your self-interest.

Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale
Green Party Gubernatorial Candidate, 2017