By Lenn Almadin-Thornhill, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau
NEW JERSEY – Many celebrated in New York on Monday after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a law that will gradually raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 and also establishes paid family leave for New York workers.
But just across the Hudson River in New Jersey, the fight to increase the minimum wage continues. On Sunday, the 15 Now organization gathered in Jersey City with local workers and various groups to demand that minimum wage be a living wage.
Michael Azner of the Filipino Immigrants & Workers Organizing Project said the cost of living is too high, everything is getting expensive but their wages are still the same.
“The buying power of the dollar is not that big so we cannot move on,” said Azner. “We cannot afford the cost of living in Jersey City.”
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop showed his support for wage increase at a rally in City Hall last November.
“We think $15 is fair and reasonable towards the business owners at the same time towards the workers,” said Fulop.
In February, he signed an executive order raising the minimum wage for city workers to $15 an hour.
“We have to realize that the grand majority of workers in Jersey City are not city employees,” said Jonatham Zirkle of Anakbayan New Jersey. “Especially in the Filipino community, a lot of them are domestic workers, recent migrants who are working in the service industries, in restaurants.”
In February, a Democrat-led New Jersey legislature announced a plan that proposed the increase of the minimum wage from $8.38 to $15 over five years. Governor Chris Christie said the proposal is economically irresponsible.
“It is not the economy that’s struggling, it’s us that are struggling,” said Christie. “It is unacceptable.”
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