The measures would require “just cause” to fire a parking worker and mandate operators to provide sufficient staffing
PHILADELPHIA, PA, April 25, 2019 – Councilwoman Cherelle L. Parker (9th District) today introduced a pair of bills to increase protections for parking workers in the City of Philadelphia. One bill would require parking employers to demonstrate “just cause” to fire an employee, while the other would mandate parking garages, parking lots and valet services to provide sufficient staff to ensure the safety of employees and customers.
The bills seek to address concerns raised during a hearing on the need for a living wage for parking workers held by Council’s Committee on Labor and Civil Services. Both bills were co-sponsored by Councilmembers Derek Green and Helen Gym.
“While City Council is prohibited from increasing the minimum wage, we can and we must help root out unfair treatment and substandard conditions for workers in an industry that employs more than 1,000 men and women in Philadelphia, and where many of them earn as little as $8 per hour,” Parker said. “The idea that an employer would fire an employee simply for advocating for better working conditions and trying to organize workers while they are not on the clock is reprehensible and sends the wrong message to other employees.”
“Today, Council took a big step forward with legislation that will help 1,000 Philadelphia parking workers have job protections to make their lives better,” said Daisy Cruz, District Director of 32BJ SEIU. “For too long, this $453 million local industry has relied on keeping parking workers stuck in poverty and often fired arbitrarily. Thankfully, Councilwoman Parker, Councilman Green and Councilwoman Gym are leading the charge so that hardworking parking workers are able to support their families.”
The “just cause” bill would mean that a parking employee could only be discharged due to their failure to satisfactorily perform job duties or misconduct that is demonstrably and materially harmful to the parking employer’s legitimate business interests. The minimum staffing bill would require operators of public parking garages and lots to submit evidence to the Department of Licenses and Inspections that sufficient staff will be on site at all times in order to maintain their licenses, while valet parking operators would be required to submit their plans to the Philadelphia Parking Authority.
There are more than 1,000 parking workers in the city, and despite working long hours, 69 percent of parking garage workers make below the City median salary, which is just $41,449, and 24 percent have an income below $20,000.
“The parking industry is just one example of an industry that is booming on the backs of black and brown workers,” Parker said. “And as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. so boldly and eloquently stated: Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
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.