Workers are the most essential component of our society. Without the organized actions of the laborers, there would be no food, no production, no society as we know it. After decades of workers’ action, bosses offered some concessions. It was organizing, unionizing, and protests that created this day.
Today, society calls many essential workers yet so few are paid a living wage. Their sacrifice led to millions of dollars and millions of people’s lives being saved, yet many are barely getting paid. The cost of living has dramatically increased during the pandemic, and many of our essential workers are struggling to survive.
For decades the rich have been getting richer while the poor stay poor and the middle class has been shrinking. Throughout the nation, people work full-time jobs and can not afford basic living expenses such as rent, food, gas and insurance. Some even work multiple jobs and still do not earn enough to put food on the table. Many must rely on an income boost from the barebones social safety net even after working full time. New Jersey has the tenth worst income inequality in the nation, and inequality (measured by the GINI coefficient) actually has increased during Murphy’s reign.
Many after becoming unemployed during the pandemic have realized that getting paid by unemployment they were getting more than they did working. For many people for the first time in their lives, they were given enough money to survive. People were able to make more not working than many of the essential workers that were needed for our society to survive. Unfortunately, many also lost their health insurance, a glaring problem in the U.S. and in N.J. that must be addressed.
Recently we have seen a shortage in the low-wage job market. With the lowering value of the US dollar, it costs more to live anywhere, especially in the state of New Jersey. The reason why there is such a job shortage is people cannot afford to live on their wages. During the proclaimed economic golden age of the country (the mid to late 19th century), the minimum wage increased with workers’ productivity. In truth, if the minimum wage continued to be tied to worker’s productivity it would be 22$ an hour. In order to afford to rent a one-bedroom apartment in this state, you need approximately that income, for 40 hours a week, 12 months a year. The solution to the shortage in the low-wage job market is to increase the minimum wage. The best solution is to pay a living wage.
Our campaign would like to immediately increase the minimum wage to a living wage – beginning at $22/hour. Essential workers should be treated as essential and given a living wage so they are not struggling to survive.
Now I know that you are wondering about the impact on small businesses. Would they collapse by this increase in worker’s payment? The answer is no. If small businesses were subsidized this payment until the economy equalizes they would receive no net loss, and be able to function more effectively with an energized and enthusiastic labor force.
Throughout the years, billions of dollars in subsidies have been given out to large corporations. Let’s change that and start backing the little guy. Let’s start backing our working class instead.
Our research shows that it is possible for the state to subsidize this wage increase to small businesses. This would roughly cost $8 billion which could be paid for by the large corporations if we increased corporate taxes even slightly. This money would not only protect workers’ jobs but strengthen small businesses in our economy. Everyone benefits.
Also, unemployment is something that does not need to exist. The federal government has the ability and finances to provide a good-paying union job to all unemployed people. In truth, the state government does as well. With this massive increase in the labor force, the government can tackle the modern problems. A green new deal is not just about fixing the environment, but creating an economic change reminiscent of FDR’s original new deal. As a state that was hit very hard by a recent hurricane, we certainly cannot ignore the looming crisis.
Extending unemployment and raising the minimum wage would lift so many out of poverty. It would save so many lives. It is the right, moral thing to do. Madelyn Hoffman supports these policies while her opponents do not. Essential workers and the working class are the backbone of our society and these policies are what they deserve.
It is wrong for the governor to suspend the supplemental unemployment benefits now — we should extend them until there is no longer any need to do so.
“As a student at Rutgers-New Brunswick, seeing so many roads underwater made me think about how many roads will be permanently flooded if something is not done immediately,” said Dustin Young, Campaign Manager for Hoffman/Warburton.
“We have the resources in our society to fix this, but we are appropriating them incorrectly. If we looked more carefully at our tax structure and at unnecessary budget items, we could find a way to add to the state’s revenues and reallocate these resources to guarantee a job with a living wage. These jobs will prioritize fixing the environment. We would need approximately $14 billion to do so, an amount that is a fraction of the state’s GDP. If we do not make this investment soon, then we may end up with much more loss of life, property, and infrastructure than we have seen in the past week” he concluded.