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05/21/2024 09:20 PM
Pennsylvania State Senate
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=S&SPick=20230&cosponId=40891
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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: June 1, 2023 01:26 PM
From: Senator Christine M. Tartaglione
To: All Senate members
Subject: Comprehensive Modernization of the Minimum Wage
 
In the near future, I will introduce legislation that will raise Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to $15/hour on January 1, 2024 and provide yearly cost of living-adjusted increases thereafter. Additionally, this legislation sets the tipped wage in Pennsylvania to 70% of the minimum wage.
 
Pennsylvania has not updated its minimum wage since 2006, and as a result, we still maintain the lowest allowable rate in the country. All surrounding states have increased their minimum wage rates, leaving us behind. In 2023, 18 states will increase their minimum wages for workers. 30 states, including many with a lower cost of living, have a higher minimum wage than Pennsylvania. Keeping people in poverty is not how we move the Commonwealth forward.

The current minimum wage of $7.25 is inadequate and, in the midst of inflationary pressure, it is immoral to continue with this baseline rate of pay. In 2022, 63,000 Pennsylvanians survived on the bare minimum and an additional 417,000 Pennsylvanians relied on hourly wages between $7.26 and $12. Vital members of our community, such as childcare, home health, retail, and hospitality workers, who work full-time while making the minimum wage only earn $15,080/year. These are some of the most fundamental jobs in our Commonwealth, yet the compensation for the hard work done by minimum and near-minimum wage earners is not sufficient to afford basic necessities such as rent, transportation, food, and prescriptions. Many are forced to rely on public assistance to get by. The inability of hard-working people to care for their own basic needs, or those of their families, is morally wrong and economically unsound. 

My legislation will help raise citizens out of poverty, save state tax dollars as people are less reliant on public assistance, and reinvest a portion of the savings in state-supported childcare and subsidized homecare for seniors and people with disabilities.

Accordingly, my legislation also modernizes protections and enforcement standards in the law, by:
 
  • Providing flexibility to municipalities to set a higher local wage under certain conditions;
  • Guarding against wage theft by ensuring that the Department of Labor & Industry may recover wages and penalties for all violations of the act, not only when a complaint is filed;
  • Increasing monetary penalties for violations, which in some cases have not been updated since 1968;
  • Bringing enforcement in line with the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act by allowing workers to receive damages, in addition to unpaid wages; and
  • Enshrining in law that gratuities are the sole property of the employee.
As an advocate for minimum wage reform throughout my 29 years in the Senate, I am proud to answer Governor Shapiro’s call for a $15 wage in Pennsylvania.

Please join me in sponsoring this vital legislation and help raise the wage for Pennsylvania’s workers.
 



Introduced as SB12