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Philadelphia City Council Expands Prevailing Wage to Service Workers in Public Buildings


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The Philadelphia City Council voted last week to expand its prevailing wage ordinance. The updated rules will set fair wage and benefits standards for service workers in publicly subsidized buildings. Previously, the law only applied to those working in large residential and commercial buildings:

The existing law guarantees prevailing wage to building service employees working at large residential or commercial buildings that are provided significant financial assistance by the city, are leased from the city, or were bought from the city.

This bill will expand the types of buildings covered by prevailing wage. Currently, the law does not include employees working in some City-subsidized buildings such as universities, hospitals, stadiums, ports, airports, and convention centers. Many of these buildings receive substantial assistance from the City each year and yet do not pay their employees a living wage.

The prevailing wage expansion was celebrated by service employees and council members alike:

“Those at the baseline of our workforce, which are folks who are making between $9 and $11 an hour are going to be bumped up closer to the living wage and what should be an ever-increasing wage standard for our city residents,” Councilwoman [Helen] Gym said.

“If I came to the city routinely for tens of millions, hundreds of millions of dollars, am I going to get up in that room and say, ‘no, I want to keep all the security officers poor,” Gabe Morgan of the Service Workers Union said. “The trade here is that if you want public money we need to guarantee that you are going to create good jobs.”

Councilwoman Gym, who sponsored the bill, said Philadelphia could “no longer let public resources subsidize poverty wages.”

The city’s service workers couldn’t agree more.


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