Three proposals to significantly raise the minimum wage – Senator Dave Marsden’s (D-Fairfax) SB88, Senator Barbara Favola (D-Arlington) and Senator Rosalyn Dance’s (D-Petersburg) SB668, and Senator John Edwards’ (D-Roanoke) SB129 – were swiftly defeated despite no one speaking against them.
Senator Jennifer Wexton’s (D-Fairfax) SB274, which would have mandated paid sick leave for private employees, and Senator Donald McEachin’s (D-Henrico) SB221, which would have required that women receive fully equal compensation for equal work, were likewise defeated.
Speaking to his bill, Senator Marsden said, “It’s not what it used to be, where a minimum wage job was a stepping stone to bigger and better things.”
Addressing the committee, Senator Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax) said, “I would be embarrassed to oppose this bill and embarrassed if I was paying my workers unsustainable wages. In the long run, don’t think Virginia isn’t paying for it. Guess who is picking up healthcare and social services? Virginia is paying for it and that means we are.”
Senator Favola said, “There is a concern among Virginians that the gap between rich and poor is growing. There is a fairness issue here that isn’t being addressed. If you are working full time, 40 hours a week, you should be able to support your family.”
Senator Edwards said, “Increasing the minimum wage makes good business sense for Virginia. If people have money, they spend it. Nobody in Virginia who works full time should live under the federal poverty line. If you work full time and make minimum wage, you’re earning just over $15,000 a year, but for a family of two the federal poverty line is $18,000. National retail companies have increased their minimum. It’s time for us to do that at the state level in Virginia.”
Senator McEachin said, “We still live in a society where women earn less than eighty cents on the dollar compared to their male colleagues. That number looks worse for women of color. In the 21st century, that is not acceptable. The women of Virginia are counting on us, their legislators, to right that wrong. I am disappointed that my Republican colleagues fail to see this.”