Business groups will take to the boardwalk in Seaside Heights at 11 a.m. Thursday to rally against the proposed constitutional amendment to raise New Jersey's minimum wage.
Voters on Nov. 5 will be tasked with deciding through a ballot measure whether the state should increase its minimum wage by $1, to $8.25, and tie future increases to the consumer price index.
Despite figures released by a Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press Poll last month illustrating that 65 percent of registered New Jersey voters support the amendment, business groups have been vocal in their opposition to a wage hike, claiming it will hurt the small-business community and create jobs losses.
Tom Bracken, president and CEO of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, isn’t putting too much stock into the latest poll numbers. He said previous polls have shown even higher margins — and from now until November, an amped-up educational campaign is planned.
“We wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t think we could win,” Bracken said.
Bracken said a big focus of Thursday’s event will be to dispel any claims from opponents that the business community is advocating against the working poor by opposing a minimum wage hike. He said it’s been an unfair light cast on business groups, particularly because he says raising the minimum wage will have an adverse effect on those its attempting to serve.
“We need to clear the air and let people know what the real issue is (and) what the ramifications are of voting yes on this,” Bracken said.
Bracken added that he’s still unsure as to why the issue isn’t being tackled legislatively and instead left to the ballot box. He said he takes more of an issue with the process thus far than the actual dollar amount in question.
Of particular concern to the business community is language calling for the wage-CPI tie the law would create. Gov. Chris Christie had sought to decouple the CPI and the wage in a conditional veto in January.
Also scheduled to speak are National Federation of Independent Business state director Laurie Ehlbeck, NFIB-NJ Leadership Council chair Joe Olivo and Seaside Park business owner Bobby Stewart, whose retro arcade on Funtown Pier was destroyed in the recent boardwalk fire.
Elsewhere in the state Thursday, a rally in support of the potential minimum wage hike is also scheduled.
At 5 p.m. in North Brunswick, Working Families United for New Jersey will host a fundraiser event for its “Raise the Wage” campaign featuring Newark Mayor Cory Booker, the frontrunner in the October U.S. Senate race, and state Sen. Barbara Buono (D-Edison), who badly trails Christie in the race for the governorship.
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