PHILADELPHIA, July 12 – State Reps. Joanna McClinton, Stephen Kinsey, Chris Rabb, Summer Lee and Sara Innamorato joined advocates and restaurant workers in support of increasing the minimum wage in Pennsylvania.
The group marched from the Pennsylvania Convention Center to El Fuego, a Mexican restaurant at 723 Walnut Street, where the legislators served food and drink to customers and addressed how a minimum wage hike would improve the lives of thousands of workers in the commonwealth.
McClinton said, “Every state surrounding Pennsylvania has increased its minimum wage and yet it remains stagnant here in the commonwealth. It is antiquated and, at this point, disgraceful. Too many Pennsylvanians must continue to work for what amounts to nothing in today’s economy, still struggling well below the poverty line to pay bills and provide for their families. An increased and fair wage would give these people more purchasing power and the ability to afford necessities, contributing more to our overall economy.”
Kinsey said, “Our communities of color shouldn’t have to choose between paying the bills and putting food on the table. I was proud to join Restaurant Opportunities Centers United and other advocates in fighting to raise the minimum wage across the commonwealth so hardworking Pennsylvanians can afford to support their families and live their lives.”
Rabb has proposed legislation that would raise the minimum wage in Pennsylvania to $12 an hour, then increase it each year until it reaches $15 an hour. The increase also would include tipped wages.
Rabb said, “Minimum wage earners are not part-time workers or teens, they are breadwinners, parents and students. They are struggling – and they struggle because some employers would rather see them subsidize their livings by reaching for public service. In that way, the low minimum wage is very much a form of corporate welfare – allowing them to profit while they get away with underpaying workers.”
In Pennsylvania, nearly 75% of tipped workers consist of women, but they earn only 70% of the wages their male counterparts make. For women of color who are servers, the disparity is even greater – they earn only 60% of what male servers are paid overall, costing them more than $400,000 over a lifetime.
Lee said, “The time is long overdue to ensure that all workers – especially those who are tipped workers in the restaurant industry – are paid a fair and livable wage. I’m proud to stand with my colleagues in the House and Senate in our collective efforts to raise the minimum wage for all and demand an end to the subminimum wage for tipped workers.”
Innamorato said, “A tipped wage system is inequitable, unjust and hurts working families the most. Today, almost 70% of tipped workers are women and they suffer from twice the poverty rate of the rest of US workers. No one working full-time should be living in poverty. We need to put people first and deliver one fair wage.”