For Walter Nelson, the hike in New Community’s minimum wage from $10 to $11 an hour at the start of the year has made a definite difference. Nelson is a landscaper in NCC’s Environmental Services Department who is responsible for keeping the grounds of the family residences and management office in Newark.
“I wasn’t expecting it, that’s for sure. The raise allows me to now save some money and extend my health benefits,” said Nelson, 51, who joined the grounds crew 5 ½ years ago after working for several years as a shift manager at the Dunkin Donuts in the NCC-owned Pathmark Shopping Center in Newark.
The minimum wage at New Community is expected to rise to $12 an hour next year.
New Community’s minimum wage is higher than that of the state of New Jersey, which went from $7.25 to $8.25 on Jan. 1 and the national minimum wage, which has remained stagnant at $7.25 per hour since July of 2009. Both President Obama and many members of Congress have been pushing for an increase.
“You have to give people a living wage or you will have even more individuals sinking into poverty,” said Monsignor William J. Linder, founder and board president of New Community. “Something’s wrong when you have people working two and three jobs to make ends meet and it still isn’t happening.”
The increase at New Community impacted more than 120 employees from a variety of departments.
Quawee Williams, who works in NCC’s Security Department, was also excited about the rise in New Community’s minimum wage to $11 an hour, especially with his first child due in early April.
“It has made a big difference. I come home with more of my check now and I am able to save a little bit more,” said Williams, 28, who is engaged to be married and has worked at NCC for two years.