DALLAS — Raise the Wage in Pennsylvania held a protest outside of Sen. Lisa Baker’s office on the Dallas Memorial Highway Wednesday.
Nearly 20 protesters from Raise the Wage in Pennsylvania and the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Wyoming Valley held signs that read, “Honk to support minimum wage raise” and “Raise PA’s Wage.”
Sen. Baker (R-Lehman Township), chairwoman of the Labor and Industry Committee, had her office targeted due to a stalled bill in the committee that could raise the state’s minimum wage from $ 7.25 to $10.10 per hour with a cost of living escalator, said John Dodds, coordinator of Raise the Wage in Pennsylvania.
The bill has sat in Baker’s committee since January.
“Everybody knows minimum wage needs to go up,” Dodds said. “No one knows why it is not.”
Even if Baker passed the bill through the committee, it still faces the Senate where it could stall again, Dodds said.
If the minimum wage increase passed all hurdles, it could result in 1.2 million state residents receiving family-sustaining wage increases, 47,000 residents in Baker’s districts, he said.
“These are people (workers benefiting from a minimum wage increase) we rely on daily,” Dodds said. “Child care providers, restaurant workers and many others.”
An increase in a family-sustaining wage would also create more spending at local shops and businesses, improving the county’s economy, he said.
Wilkes-Barre resident Emily Shiffer proudly held a sign that read “Raise the minimum wage.”
The single mother recently lost a seasonal job that paid $12 per hour and took the first job she was offered, a $7.25 per hour part-time job.
“Some money is better than no money,” she said.
The dramatic cut in her income has prohibited Shiffer from providing her 11-year-old daughter with singing lessons. At times, she struggles to cover her portion of the rent for an apartment she shares with her sister and brother-in-law.
If the state’s minimum wage was raised, Shiffer said she could resume saving for a car and continue her daughter’s lessons.
“I could show her all the numbers, but all she understands is I can’t afford it,” she said.