TRENTON – New Jersey State AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech today issued the following statement concerning legislation (A-2162) on Governor Christie’s desk that seeks to increase the minimum wage and includes an annual cost of living increase. The deadline for Governor Christie to act on the legislation is this Monday, January 28, 2013. “The New Jersey State AFL-CIO believes raising the minimum wage and including an annual cost of living adjustment (COLA) is a crucial first step toward helping low-income workers in this difficult economic climate, to combat growing income inequality and to address rising poverty rates in our state. In order to provide long-term economic stability to low-income workers, New Jersey needs a permanent fix for calculating its minimum wage, and that means establishing an annual COLA,” said President Wowkanech. “We respectfully urge the Governor to sign the bill into law. If he conditionally vetoes the bill by removing the COLA, he will only be putting a band aid on a problem that requires a long term solution. Signing the COLA provision into law is essential and if it’s rejected, we are prepared to aggressively support its passage by voters via constitutional amendment,” stated Wowkanech. New Jersey’s growing poverty statistics are startling and enacting a comprehensive minimum wage policy would be a strong first step toward addressing this problem. According to the most recent Census Bureau statistics made available, from 2007 – 2011, 63,322 children and 33,202 families in New Jersey have fallen into poverty, an increase of 28% and 24% respectively. “I believe Governor Christie recognizes that signing this bill into law is the right thing to do for many reasons. But most importantly, it helps those workers that are the most vulnerable in our society and includes a COLA, which is a long-term solution that can’t be negatively impacted by politicians failure to act in the future or the harmful effects of inflation eroding wages,” concluded Wowkanech. A Quinnipiac University poll issued yesterday showed broad, bipartisan support for increasing the minimum wage. Voters support the policy 82% to 16%. Those numbers include 67% support among Republicans. ###
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