PHILADELPHIA, March 14, 2019 – City Council today adopted legislation introduced by Councilwoman Cherelle Parker (9th District) that will put a question on the May ballot regarding increasing Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025.
Pennsylvania’s minimum wage of $7.25 – the same as the federal minimum wage – has been unchanged for the past 10 years, while the cost of living has risen more than 13 percent since 2009. In the past decade, 29 states, including all of our neighboring states, have raised the wage floor for their workers, with the District of Columbia planning to increase its minimum wage to $15 by 2020, and New Jersey planning to hike its minimum wage to $15 by 2024.
The referendum would ask voters to amend the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter to call upon the General Assembly to raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2025 or alternatively to allow the City of Philadelphia to increase the minimum wage in Philadelphia. The legislation was co-sponsored by Council members Blondell Reynolds Brown (At-Large) and Mark Squilla (1st District).
“Raising the minimum wage will increase incomes for tens of thousands of working families in Philadelphia, allowing them to afford basic necessities,” said Parker, chair of Council’s Committee on Labor and Civil Service. “By moving this referendum forward, we will allow Philadelphia voters to send a strong message to the General Assembly using the ballot box.”
The City cannot increase the minimum wage alone. Philadelphia is preempted by PA State Act 112 from passing any minimum wage law, which means that minimum wage changes must occur at the state level.
Reverend Greg Holston, Executive Director, POWER: “As people of faith, we know that all work is valuable and all workers have dignity. Paying anything less than a living wage is wage theft. Pennsylvania is the only state in the region paying the shameful federal minimum wage of $7.25. Philadelphia should have the right of self-determination to raise the minimum wage and address the dire poverty that exists here, which disproportionately affects the city’s black and brown residents. We urge Philadelphians to vote yes on Resolution 190115.”
Patrick Eiding, President, Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO: “You can count on the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO to continue as a partner as we work together to raise wages for thousands of people in our city. While I know that some in the business community claim that the minimum wage is only paid to teenagers starting their first summer job, the truth is that 75 percent of low-wage workers are over age 20 and that the majority of low-wage workers are the sole provider for their household. The minimum wage is a poverty wage and the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO strongly supports this legislation.”
Also in support of working families, Councilwoman Parker introduced a resolution Thursday authorizing Council’s Committee on Labor and Civil Service to hold a hearing examining low wages for parking workers in Philadelphia. The parking industry employs more than 1,000 workers who earn as little as $8.16 an hour.
“The parking industry is just one example of an industry that is booming on the backs of black and brown low-wage workers,” Parker said. “Many of these men and women work two and three jobs just to make ends meet, and they simply want what we all want – to be paid a decent, living wage.”
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.