UNITEHERE! Local 100’s first Food Service, Beverage & Retail Workers Conference in New Jersey was held on February 4th, 2017. Assemblyman Gordon Johnson gave the opening remarks followed by speakers Senator Ronald L. Rice, New Jersey Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling and Assemblywoman Joann Downey.
Elected officials and members spoke about Minimum Wage, organizing, beyond the workplace and building solidarity. Minimum wage was a key point as NY has raised their wage increasing to $15 by the end of 2021, but for New Jersey it’s a different story. Last summer, both the Senate and Assembly passed a bill that would have increased the minimum wage to more than $15.00 per hour by 2018 but Governor Chris Christie vetoed the bill on August 30, 2016.
A landmark like Newark Airport for example is a vital part of revenue for the city, attracting big businesses, boosting tourism and driving trade. The airport contributes about $22.9 billion in economic activity to the New Jersey- New York metropolitan region. There are airport workers working full-time who live at or below the poverty line In Newark. Newark Airport workers do the same work as they do in JFK and LaGuardia Airport and they deserve the same wages.
“We understand that if a person is making a decent salary he can spend more time with their family.” said Assemblymen Gordon Johnson. “They can get a better quality of life and they feel like they’re a part of the American Dream.”
“I enjoyed today’s conference” said Cody Petit-frere, Sodexo worker at United Airlines in Newark Airport. “The best part of the conference was speaking directly with the assemblyman and senator and being acknowledged directly… As a tipped worker in NJ you get 2.35 an hour as a base, we should be getting a raise!”