Top Democrat unveils $15 minimum wage bill

BY Briana Vannozzi, Correspondent |

Advocates for increasing the minimum wage have dubbed it the “Fight for $15” but it seems the fight is just beginning. Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin Thursday introduced a bill that will increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 dollars an hour, gradually, by 2024 for some workers, and that ‘s the point of contention.

Under the proposal the wage will increase by $1.15 per hour during a six year phase in starting Jan. 1, 2019. The biggest jump takes place between 2021 and 2024. The current minimum wage stands at $8.60 an hour, and giving it a bump was a vow Gov. Phil Murphy made when he took office.

Certain workers wouldn’t reach the $15 an hour wage until 2029. They include those at companies with fewer than 10 employees, teenagers, farm and seasonal workers. There’s a separate carve-out that brings the wage for tipped workers up to just under $10 an hour by 2024.

Senate President Steve Sweeney Thursday praised the measure calling it “a working document that will move our efforts to enact a needed wage increase forward.”

But progressive groups like New Jersey Working Families blasted it. The group’s executive director, Analilia Mejia, called it “unconscionable” and “discriminatory.” There’s no comment yet from Murphy’s office.

The bill will be voted on in the Assembly Labor Committee Dec. 10.