EAST ORANGE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Several northern New Jersey Democrats launched their “Raise the Wage” campaign, promoting a ballot initiative that would increase the minimum wage.
Newark Mayor Cory Booker and State Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver may be opponents in the U.S. Senate race, but they are teammates in pushing voters to approve raising by $1 the current minimum wage, which stands at $7.25 per hour.
“We are way behind the curve in New Jersey,” Oliver said. “A no-brainer.”
The Democrats said on average, it takes $16.64 an hour to afford an average rental apartment in New Jersey.
“You need to make more than twice the minimum wage just to meet the minimum basic needs of our families,” said Booker. “All of these costs going up, but minimum wage has stayed the same.”
Oliver said voting ‘yes’ on the November ballot question helps the economy.
“Because those workers earn that extra $2,000 and they spend it immediately,” she said.
State Sen. and gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono said minimum wage workers are making just enough to survive.
“With $15,000 a year income, there is no such thing as expendable income. There are no vacations,” the Democrat said. “Half of minimum wage earners are over the age of 25.”
Under the proposal, future increases would be tied to cost of living adjustments.
“I can’t stress enough the cost of living adjustment,” union leader Charles Hall Jr. said in promoting the ballot initiative. “You can raise the minimum wage every five or six years and you’re right back where you started.”
Opponents argue raising the minimum wage would drive businesses away from the state.
Earlier this year, Republican Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill that would’ve raised the minimum wage by $1.25 an hour.
New Jersey is one of 23 states whose minimum wage is $7.25, the same as the federal minimum.
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