On Monday, September 29th, advocates and workers came together in 10 cities across Pennsylvania for the “Vote PA a Raise” statewide day of action to call on their elected officials to raise the minimum wage to at least $10.10 an hour.
Participants highlighted the upcoming state level elections, and emphasized that their results will likely impact whether or not we will see a wage hike in our state. This is why it is so important that Pennsylvanians show up at the polls in November. 70% of PA residents support raising the minimum wage, and it’s time that our elected officials and those running for office begin to listen up.
Below are recaps of each event:
Allentown: A press conference was held with 11 guest speakers – five current members of the General Assembly and 6 candidates running on the November ballot. All of them support an increase in the minimum wage. The speakers included Sen. Pat Browne, the majority whip. Members of the House included Michael Schlossberg, Daniel McNeill, Steve Samuelson, and Bob Freeman. Candidates included Pete Schweyer (22nd legislative dist.), Michael Beyer (131), Leslie Altieri (138), Michael Molovinsky and Terri Powell (183). All are Democrats except Sen. Browne and Mr. Molovinsky (Independent).
Channel 69, and The Morning Call were there. As noted by one of the speakers, the group was diverse. As a result, each one had something unique to say.
Altoona: Workers from Valley View Nursing Home and Altoona Hospital engaged in a silent action outside the Blair County courthouse around raising the minimum wage. Each worker represented a stage in the life of a person. First was a high school graduate, the last was waiting for the minimum wage to be raised. They saw decent foot traffic and favorable responses. They had both WJAC and WTAJ come out.
Erie: Members of the Mental Health Association visited various locations in the area to give talks on raising the minimum wage, and are excited to continue the fight moving forward.
Harrisburg: A press conference was held with various guest speakers, including Rick Bloomingdale, President of the PA AFL-CIO, Sandy Strauss of the PA Council of Churches, and Sen. Judy Schwank (D – Berks). Anita Mentzer, of Unitarian Universalist PLAN, was interviewed by ABC 27, and did a great job pushing back on some of the opposition’s talking points. The event was covered by ABC 27 and WGAL 8.
Media: Working Families and Action United did a great job pulling the event together, with good turnout and participation from the Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor, Sen. Mike Stack (D – Phila), Sen. Daylin Leach, and State Senate candidate John Kane. The event was covered with a detailed story by CBS 3.
Morrisville: A very successful event was held in Bucks County. Participants included labor, senior, and religious leaders, Raise the Wage PA member Lance Haver, State Senate candidate Steve Cickay, and candidate for Congress Kevin Strouse. The event was covered by local media, who carried the message well.
Philadelphia: They had close to 100 turn out from many organizations in the Philadelphia event. We marched from Fergie’s Pub (an ROC identified high road employer) to the Governor’s Philadelphia office. Speakers included a Rev. Randy Barge, Olney Presbyterian Church, State Senate candidate Art Heywood, UFCW’s John Meyerson, low wage Burger King worker Jose Torres and Jason McCartney, a tipped worker from ROC who works as a bar back at a local bar, Nadia Hewka of Community Legal Services, Nick Alpers of the Philadelphia AFL-CIO, Tim Styer of the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Reformation and John Dodds of PUP. They also had a ballot box for people to vote themselves a raise. The vote was overwhelming for a higher minimum wage in PA. The event was covered by ABC 6 and Fox 29.
Pittsburgh: State Rep Dom Costa went grocery shopping with Angie Kemper, SEIU 32BJ member, on a minimum wage budget. Minimum wage workers have just $77 dollars on average per week to provide for their food and transportation. Rep Costa was challenged to buy a weekly bus pass ($25) and use his remaining $52 at a ShurSave to get groceries for the week. Rep Costa had a very powerful experience, having to make some hard decisions and even putting back nearly $15 of groceries that he couldn’t afford. The event, and subsequent press conference was covered by WTAE, KDKA and the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.
Reading: Organizers held a rally with supporters from Keystone Progress, PSEA, and Alliance for Retired Americans, as well as the Mayor of Reading. The event got great coverage on WFMZ (Channel 69).
York: Participants met at Cherry Lane and marched to Sen. Scott Wagner’s (R – York) office, where they held a protest. Great coverage by Fox 43 and a nice video by visual journalist Paul Kuehnel.