Philadelphia – Mayor Jim Kenney (D) changed the lives of thousands of Philadelphians with the stroke of a pen today at City Hall as he signed the prevailing wage expansion bill into law. The measure helps to create thousands of good jobs by expanding the prevailing wage to include service workers at universities, hospitals, and other publicly-subsidized institutions.
“People usually associate the word ‘poverty’ with ‘unemployment,’” said the Mayor. “But the fact is, a good number of Philadelphians who are employed still find themselves struggling in poverty. This measure marks an important step towards assuring that low-wage employees receive a family-sustaining wage.”
The prevailing wage measure was amended in 2008; however, the law did not include hospitals, universities, stadiums, the convention center, and the port. The expansion was introduced last month by Councilmember Helen Gym and several co-sponsors. It passed unanimously by City Council earlier this month and transforms thousands of low-wage jobs into family-sustaining jobs paying workers almost $15 an hour with benefits. The bill creates an economic benefit of over $22 million a year for the city and aims to ensure that public money does not subsidize poverty wages.
“By expanding prevailing wage requirements, we are ensuring that thousands of hardworking Philadelphians and their families will see a long-overdue raise,” said the measure’s primary sponsor, Councilwoman Helen Gym. “We can no longer let public resources subsidize poverty wages.”
“This is a blessing. Many security officers across this city work two and three jobs, and we neglect spending precious time with our children to make sure we can provide their basic needs. The passing of this bill allows us to better support our families and contribute to the businesses in our communities,” said Vanessa Highsmith, a security officer.
Designated as the poorest big city in America with more than 185,000 Philadelphians living in deep poverty, this amendment transforms the lives of thousands of families throughout the city living in the most impoverished neighborhoods.
“The prevailing wage expansion is a win for thousands of Philadelphians. It’s the helping hand these men and women need to positively impact their lives, their families, and their communities. It’s a lift out of poverty and a step towards the middle class,” said Gabe Morgan, Vice President, 32BJ SEIU.
The measure was introduced last month by Gym and co-sponsored by council members Kenyatta Johnson, Curtis Jones, Cherelle Parker and Maria Quinones-Sanchez.
With 155,000 members in eleven states and Washington, D.C., 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.