More than 150 elected officials, residents and representatives of unions and Working Families of New Jersey rallied on Journal Square today advocating raising the state minimum wage by $1 to $8.25 via the referendum to be voted on in the November election.
“If any man tells you he loves America but hates labor, he is a liar,” Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise said quoting Abraham Lincoln and getting cheers from the crowd beside the fountain on the square. “It’s a shame that people have to work two, sometimes three jobs in order to feed their families, to pay there rents and mortgages…You would think Gov. (Chris) Christie would do something for the little guy rather than the big guy and endorse this.”
The advocates of the wage hike say it is overdue and would result in families spending more money, which would drive the state economy, raise the demand for goods and services, create jobs and aid the flagging middle class. Event organizers said more than 400,000 workers would immediately benefit by the increase if voters pass the referendum on Nov. 5.
Security worker Tayzia Treadwell, 21, the single mother of a 1-year-old child, was among the impassioned speakers to urged a “yes” vote on the referendum as people waved placards and distributed fliers to commuters. She just graduated from the Drake College of Business, but that has added student loan bills to her tight budget.
“Security is just a little more than minimum wage ... another dollar, trust me, it will really help,” said Treadwell “$7.25 is not enough for us. We won’t survive.”
Among those participating in the event were Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop, Bayonne Mayor Mark Smith, Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, council members from the three cities, all Hudson County Freeholders and New Jersey State AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkenech.
Fulop drew cheers from when he took the podium saying Jersey City is a symbol of America and New Jersey and calling it a blue collar community with great diversity in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty.
“There is no wrong time to do the right thing,” Fulop said, urging those at the event to spread the word about the referendum.
Jersey City NAACP President William Braker said “We at the NAACP believe that the working class is the backbone of this country and we owe it to them to do the right thing.”
Working Families United for New Jersey is composed of over 200 religious, labor, community, civil rights, student, women and retiree groups.
The Hudson County Board of Commerce has not taken a position on the referendum wage issue.