Two dozen protestors rallied outside U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey’s office in Station Square earlier this afternoon to urge the Pennsylvania Republican to support legislation that would increase the federal minimum wage.
“We want to bring attention to the minimum wage,” said Jeanine Jelks-Seale. “So many of my friends and family are working hard, but they’re not being compensated for the hard work they’re doing.”
The proposed legislation would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, a number supporters say would help American families earn enough to get off of public assistance programs like food stamps.
“I help people apply for public assistance every day,” said Maria Muzzie from Just Harvest. “Working people should not have to depend on the government to survive.”
Toomey has voiced concern over the proposal. On Feb. 18, the Congressional Budget Office released a report saying the proposed increase would reduce total employment by 500,000 workers, or about .3 percent by 2016.
“If we increase the minimum wage, we are going to put people out of work,” said Sen. Toomey during a Jan. 29 conference call with reporters. “It’s a bad idea, especially at a time when far too many people are already out of work.”
Supporters of the wage increase hope they can turn Toomey’s position around. While they were unable to meet with the senator on Feb. 19, they presented one of his staffers with a petition.
“We think there’s a possibility to get Sen. Toomey to support this,” said Eric English, a fellow with Organizing for Action who organized the event. “What I see happening is it’s impossible for people to raise a family on minimum wage.”