Centre County Democratic Socialists of America
Centre County DSA contact
Centre County DSA shared a post. January 14 at 1:03 PM ·
Centre County DSA co-chair Becky Tarlau is in Los Angeles to support the 34,000 teachers who launched their strike today. Follow the UTLA page for updates!
Centre County Wage Justice Coalition
The Centre County Wage Justice Coalition gathered in Webster's Cafe on Oct. 16 2019 to advocate for raising Pennsylvania’s minimum wage, combat wage theft in the state, and support local labor unions.
The coalition, which was organized in early 2019, is building a group of members from labor unions, faith-based groups, community organizations, immigrant rights groups and student groups.
Robin Moussa, a co-organizer, became involved in the group through her own experiences working minimum wage jobs while she was a student at Penn State.
“I worked for $7.25 for two years at a restaurant downtown and I worked nights as a student because it was the only time I had available. I worked 30 hours a week and was always exhausted, but more importantly, I never had money for anything,” Moussa, a graduate of the class of 2019, said. “I could never pay for textbooks, I could not pay my rent on that… I could rarely afford groceries, like even those essentials. I realized it wasn’t something that was survivable for people living in State College.”
The group uses organization and mobilization to create direct action through state legislatures. Currently, there are bills on the Pennsylvania House and Senate floors that address the group’s goals.
“We’re actually advocating specifically right now for House Bill and Senate Bill 1215. It would raise the wage to $12.00 immediately, and then incrementally to $15.00 by 2025,” Moussa said.
Evan Zavada learned about the coalition through his work with the Centre County Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). His experiences with working for minimum wage also allowed him to find importance in the cause.
“I was a waiter back at home, and I was being paid what was the minimum wage there, which was $2.83 an hour. At the time, it was definitely doable, because I had parents putting a roof over my head. When I moved away, and had to start paying State College rents, it wasn’t as easy to make the payments,” Zavada, a graduate of the class of 2018, said. “Now, coming out graduated, living in town and being paid $2.83 an hour minimum, it’s pretty hard to get by.”
Besides advocating for a higher minimum wage, the coalition also focuses on ending wage theft in Centre County, especially for those working in the service sector.
“The minimum wage for tipped labor is $2.83, and the employers are supposed to make up the difference. Legally, they are required to do that, but they still may not and there is a huge number of violations of these wage practices in Centre County,” Ryan Campbell said.
Campbell (graduate-electrical engineering) also became involved with the coalition through hiswork with DSA.
While most of the coalition’s work has been through protest, they recently started canvassing at local events.
Most recently, it gave out boomsticks and flyers at the Penn State-Purdue football game, while asking for signatures for a petition. This petition was for Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, whose district includes State College.
The organization has met with backlash, however. Co-organizer Manuel Rosaldo said they encountered a man during canvassing who accelerated his car toward the group. When a group member hit the hood of the car to tell the driver to stop, the man jumped out of his car and attempted to fight the coalition members.
Rosaldo, a postdoctoral scholar at Penn State, now sees safety as one of the group’s main priorities in upcoming events.
The coalition plans to canvas during this weekend’s Penn State-Michigan football game, and hope the game’s large turnout will allow them to encounter new organizers.
Members, like Zavada, see issues affecting workers’ wages as more important than just money.
“We work hard," he said. "Don’t we deserve dignity?”
DSA Organizing Meeting
DSA Organizing Meeting Public · Hosted by Centre County DSA
Tuesday, June 20 at 6 PM - 7 PM EDT
State College Municipal Building
243 S Allen St, State College, Pennsylvania 16801
Invited on Facebook
- Miriam Gonzales
- Ian Van Sant
- Jamie Yurick
- Aubrey Waddick
- Kevin Cloonan
- Anny-Shenli Pei
- John Schneider
- Liana Kathleen Glew
- Anne Marie Whitesell
- Brianne Pragg
- Brian Lambert
- Peter Buckland
- Derek Gideon
- Eduardo Ramos
- Emma Van Burns
- Ben Wideman
- Justin Perez
- Nathan Geiger