Philadelphia, May 12, 2014 – With eight days to go before Pennsylvania’s primary elections, a united City Council on Monday urged Philadelphians to vote “yes” on a ballot question that would extend the current minimum wage of $10.88 to all City subcontracted workers.
The ballot measure, introduced by Councilman At-Large W. Wilson Goode, Jr., and approved unanimously by City Council last September, asks voters to approve amending the City Charter to extend “living wage” requirements to municipal subcontractors, which previously were exempted.
“The City of Philadelphia should not be subsidizing poverty-level wages. Approval of ballot question #1 will be a permanent and giant step forward for fairness and respect for all workers,” said Councilman Goode, who also authored the original Philadelphia 21st Century Minimum Wage and Benefits Standard law that was enacted in 2005.
“Within the last decade, the City of Philadelphia has raised the wage standard from $5.15 to $7.72 to $10.88 per hour,” Councilman Goode continued. “It is unconscionable that in 2014 anyone performing work for the City could earn as little as $7.85 an hour– yet that is the average pay for subcontracted workers at Philadelphia International Airport.”
“On May 20th, Philadelphians will have an opportunity to cast a vote against poverty in our City and give thousands of subcontracted workers a much-needed raise,” Councilwoman Maria Quiñones Sánchez (7th District) said. “The City of Philadelphia should not be counted among employers who disrespect workers in favor of the bottom line.”
“When workers are paid so little they are incapable of self-sufficiency, government and taxpayers wind up picking up slack,” Council President Darrell L. Clarke (5th District) added. “I thank Mayor Nutter for his recent executive order supporting Councilman Goode’s legislation, and I urge Philadelphia voters to make it permanent by voting ‘yes’ on ballot question #1 on May 20th.”
In a public letter dated May 1, 2014, City Council members expressed unanimous support for the amendment to the City Charter, which will appear as the first question to voters on the May 20 primary ballot.
A recent Bloomberg News National Poll found that 69 percent of Americans support raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 over the next three years. National support for extending living wages to all workers has grown in part because for many workers, average hourly earnings have not kept pace with inflation. Supporters of a living wage for all also point out that women, many of whom are raising children, comprise 60 percent of minimum wage workers.
A coalition of workers in the Greater Philadelphia region also has united behind the “Yes on #1” campaign.
“A raise would make a big difference in my life,” said Fatmata Massaguoi, a worker at Philadelphia International Airport. “I make about $600 every two weeks cleaning planes and I have nothing left over once I pay bills. Airport workers are tired of struggling. We appreciate the support of the voters and City Council on May 20th.”
“For too long, thousands of Philadelphia airport workers have struggled in poverty while the airlines made record profits. We commend City Council for supporting the ‘Yes on #1’ ballot initiative to raise the wage for airport and other subcontracted workers,” said Daisy Cruz, 32BJ SEIU Mid-Atlantic Director.
“The dozens of congregations from across the city that make up POWER applaud Council’s support for a living wage for all workers,” said Bishop Dwayne Royster, director of the faith-based social justice coalition. “Our faith traditions call on us to bring good news to the poor. A ‘yes’ vote on ballot question #1 will certainly do just that.”