Prevailing Wage Expansion Will Lift Thousands out of Poverty

Prevailing Wage Expansion Will Lift Thousands out of Poverty

Philadelphia – This afternoon, Philadelphia City Council unanimously passed a bill to expand the prevailing wage (#160713) to include service workers at universities, hospitals and other publicly-subsided institutions. The bill extends the prevailing wage and benefit standards for thousands of workers employed at publically-subsidized buildings and will generate an estimated economic benefit of over $22 million a year.

“I am overjoyed. This is a good day for security officers and others who help to keep buildings across the city safe and clean. Many of us struggle from week to week to make ends meet. I’m grateful for City Council for passing this bill that helps us better take care of our children and support our communities,” said security officer Jean Duvall

The prevailing wage bill was amended in 2008 to establish good paying jobs in various service sectors; however, the law had did not include hospitals, universities, stadiums, the convention center, and the port. The prevailing wage expansion transforms thousands of low-wage jobs into family-sustaining jobs paying workers more than $15 an hour along with benefits.

“This is a momentous day for workers across the city. Expanding the prevailing wage opens the doors of opportunity for thousands of building service workers to lift themselves out of poverty,” said Gabe Morgan, 32BJ SEIU Vice President. 

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 measure was introduced last month by Councilwoman Helen Gym and co-sponsored by council members Kenyatta Johnson, Curtis Jones, Cherelle Parker and Maria Quinones-Sanchez.

“We can no longer let public resources subsidize poverty wages,” said Councilmember Helen Gym (At Large), the bill’s author. “I’m proud to say that Council is committed to tackling the inequality that divides our city. Our bill represents an effort on the part of city government to fight back against the unequal distribution of resources that has for too long forced too many to live with too little. This is public policy in action.”

 With 155,000 members in eleven states and Washington, D.C., 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.

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