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N.J.'s $15 minimum wage battle returns with some tough talk

Friday, May 13, 2016   (0 Comments)
Share | 05/13/16

A state Senate committee will vote Monday whether to raise the minimum wage here to $15 an hour, setting in motion what's likely to be a lengthy and public fight over wages.The proposed update would increase New Jersey's current minimum wage, $8.38, 70 percent to what advocates consider a more livable wage in this high-cost state. Opponents, particularly business groups, argue the hike would strangle businesses and force job cuts. On Monday, the Senate Labor Committee will hold a hearing and vote on the $15-an-hour bill, which is backed by state Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) and sate Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson).

Under the bill (S15), the minimum wage would hit $10.10 on Jan. 1, 2017, and then by more than $1.25 an hour until 2021. After 2021, annual increases will be tied to changes in the consumer price index. "New Jersey workers deserve to be paid a living wage that enables them to support themselves and their families," Sweeney said in a statement. "No one who works a full-time job should be living in poverty." A spokesman for Christie has previously said the Democrats' proposal will "cripple New Jersey's rebounding economy ... kill our historic job growth and drive more major businesses out of the state."

Michele Siekerka, president of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association who will testify in opposition to the bill Monday, said the wage hike would drastically raise the cost of doing business. Businesses will have no choice but to raise prices or reduce their payrolls, she said in a statement. NJBIA and the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce announced in February they're banding together to fight a trio of proposals, including the minimum wage, they say will damage New Jersey's business climate. 


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