Economics is complicated and any road that leads Indiana County residents out of poverty will be multifaceted and interrelated. On this point Rep. Dave Reed and I agree.
Representing UUPLAN (Unitarian Universalist Pennsylvania Legislative Advocacy Network) and with members of the local Center for Community Growth, I visited Rep. Reed in his office recently. He was a gracious host, listened to our concerns and agreed there was still room for conversation on several of our points.
To Rep. Reed, I am asking for more commitment. Therefore, I am not giving up on asking him, my state representative, to support a raise in the minimum wage.
This raise is not an easy fix to poverty, but it is an important step forward. To the citizens of the 62nd District, I am asking you too to contact Rep. Reed with the same request.
Those who work for minimum wage represent the working poor. The average minimum wage worker is 35 years old and 88 percent are not teens. Fifty-six percent are women and 28 percent have children. A remarkable 55 percent work full time and still fall below the poverty level. A raise in the state minimum wage would help over 1 million Pennsylvania workers.
Businesses like McDonald’s, Target, the Gap and now Walmart have learned that a raise in the minimum wage helps to sustain workers and improve customer satisfaction, thereby lowering the cost of doing business. Additionally, while businesses may raise the prices of their goods marginally to accommodate for this wage increase, research shows that these raises are minimal and easily absorbed by the consumer.
In my Unitarian Universalist faith tradition, our first principle calls me to promote and affirm the inherent worth and dignity of every person. This is a moral issue.
All Pennsylvanians deserve a living wage. Low-wage working people in this state need and deserve increased pay, and I request that Rep. Reed support a long overdue increase in the state minimum wage.
The Rev. Joan M. Sabatino
Minister, First Unitarian Universalist Church of Indiana