NJEA calls for minimum wage increase

Published on Tuesday, August 27, 2013

 Marie Blistan
NJEA Secretary-Treasurer Marie Blistan speaks at The Working Families United for New Jersey, Inc. press conference on Aug. 26, 2013.

NJEA Secretary-Treasurer Marie Blistan joined gubernatorial candidate Senator Barbara Buono and other women’s rights advocates in calling for an increase in the state’s minimum wage at a press conference at the New Jersey State House Monday, Aug. 26. Raising New Jersey’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25 per hour with an annual cost of living adjustment would advance the cause of women’s equality in New Jersey and help the state’s economy.

The press conference—hosted by The Working Families United for New Jersey, Inc.— took place on Women’s Equality Day, which is the day that women won their right to vote with the final ratification of the 19th Amendment. Blistan was among a dozen speakers in attendance who called for a support of a state constitutional amendment on raising the minimum wage.

“For our state, raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25 per hour with an annual cost of living adjustment will help us address rising poverty and generate nearly $175 million in economic activity over the next year which has the potential to ALSO create hundreds—if not thousands—of full time jobs,” noted Blistan. “The members of the New Jersey Education Association understand the value of addressing poverty and creating jobs—countless studies have shown there is a direct effect on student achievement. Parents who are struggling to make ends meet have to make difficult choices every single day—they worry about how to feed their families, paying for the rising costs of living expenses, and just maintaining a quality of life in general.”

Blistan pointed out that the percentage of students on free and reduced lunch continues to rise—in the 2012-2013 school year, nearly 40 percent of school children received free or reduced lunch, which indicates their parents are making below a living wage.

“These numbers are not shocking—as any educator in the state can tell you,” Blistan continued. “They are unacceptable.”

The state constitutional amendment will be voted upon on November 5.

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