COUNCIL PASSES INCREASED PROTECTIONS FOR PHILADELPHIA PARKING WORKERS

In Cherelle Parker, Council News, Featured, News by Cherelle Parker

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PHILADELPHIA, PA, May 16, 2019 – City Council voted today to adopt landmark legislation that will increase protections for parking workers in the City of Philadelphia by requiring parking operators to demonstrate “just cause” to fire an employee and mandate that garages, lots and valet services have sufficient staffing to ensure the safety of employees and customers.

The two bills, Nos. 190315 and 190316, were introduced by Councilwoman Cherelle Parker (9th District) and co-sponsored by Councilmembers Derek Green (At Large) and Helen Gym (At Large).

“Parking workers should not have to fear for their safety or the safety of their customers, or be deprived of basic rights like bathroom breaks, due to understaffing, nor should they have to fear termination or their hours being slashed for arbitrary reasons,” Parker said. “This legislation is not anti-business, but rather protects the rights of workers.”

“Today is a great day for workers in Philadelphia. City Council has taken an important step to ensure that low-wage parking workers get job protection and minimum staffing. Anything that the city can do to make low-wage service sector jobs, good jobs is critical to fighting poverty. We want to thank Councilwoman Parker for fighting so that Philadelphia’s growth and prosperity benefits all residents of the city, not just the wealthy few,” said Gabe Morgan, 32BJ SEIU Vice President.

Bill #190315, which was also co-sponsored by Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez (7th District), would require parking employers to demonstrate “just cause” in order to fire or indefinitely suspend an employee, or to reduce their weekly work schedule by more than 15 percent. If an employee fails to satisfactorily perform job duties or engages in misconduct that is demonstrably and materially harmful to the parking employer’s legitimate business interests, they may be fired immediately, depending on the frequency and degree of such failure or misconduct.

This legislation also requires employers to adequately educate and train their employees on the employers’ policies, rules and practices. If immediate firing is not warranted, this legislation calls for progressive discipline. If immediate firing is warranted, or if firing is warranted after progressive discipline, this legislation requires the employer to provide a written explanation to any discharged parking employee of the precise reasons for the just cause discharge.

Bill #190315 does take into account “bona fide economic reasons” for an employer to fire or layoff an employee or multiple employees. However, the parking employer must promptly provide a written explanation to any discharged employee of the precise bona fide economic reason(s) for the discharge. Additionally, a discharge shall not be considered based on bona fide economic reasons unless supported by the parking employer’s business records showing that the closing, technological, or reorganizational changes resulted in a reduction in revenue or profit. Finally, discharges based on bona fide economic reasons must be done in reverse order of seniority according to the length of service of parking employees.

Bill #190316 adds requirements to existing language in the City Code for sufficient staff for parking garages, parking lots, and valet services. In tandem with the requirement to provide the hours of business and whether or not attendants will be on duty, this legislation further requires that the applicant provides evidence, satisfactory to the Department of Licenses and Inspections, that sufficient staff will be on the premises at all times to maintain good order and ensure the safety of employees and customers.

Councilwoman Helen Gym, At-Large: “The parking industry has long not done right by its workers, denying basic protections and fair wages to those who make this $453 million enterprise work day in and day out. I’m proud to be part of a Council that won’t sit on the sidelines and let unfair and unsafe working conditions persist in our city. We’re working to protect parking workers, we’re providing fair workweek protections to service sector workers, and we’re just getting started.”

Councilmember Derek Green, At-Large: “I applaud Councilmember Parker for her leadership on this critically important issue. I’m proud to co-sponsor legislation that ensures the safety of and protects the fundamental human rights of our parking attendants and employees. Our citizens can rest assured that we will not stand by and allow them to be taken advantage of in any way.”

Gina Cain, parking worker: “I want to thank City Council for taking this step towards making parking jobs safer and better. My goal every day is to go to work and return safely at night. I don’t want to have to fear for my life or my job. Thanks to City Council parking workers like me will now have safety and stability on the job.”

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Councilwoman Cherelle L. Parker represents the 9th District, which includes East Mt. Airy, West Oak Lane, East Oak Lane, Lawncrest, Burholme, Olney, Oxford Circle and Logan. She is Chair of Council’s Committee on Labor and Civil Service and Vice Chair of Council’s Committee on Commerce and Economic Development.

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