City Council committee votes to extend minimum wage to subcontractors

Minimum Wage Hearing Philadelphia City Council
Supporters of the legislation, which would extend the minimum wage ordinance to subcontractors such as those at the Philadelphia International Airport, packed Council chambers.
Credit: Charles Mostoller / Metro

City Council on Wednesday voted to pass out of committee a proposed charter change that would give Council the power to extend the city’s minimum wage and benefits ordinance to subrecipients of city contracts, leases and financial assistance.

Councilman Wilson Goode Jr. introduced the legislation last June after an opinion from City Solicitor Shelley Smith found Council did not have the power to compel the city to extend the wage standards.

Mayor Michael Nutter’s Chief of Staff Everett Gillison said while the administration “is in agreement with the premise” of the proposed charter change, they are concerned its language could have a “chilling effect” on private developers who receive city financial assistance, as well as on recipients of city grants.

The bill will be given a first reading during Thursday’s City Council session and could be up for a vote as soon as next week.

If the legislation passes, it will be included as a ballot question during the May election, leaving the final decision up to the city’s voters.

What is the Philadelphia Minimum Wage and Benefits Ordinance?

>> The city in 2005 enacted the Minimum Wage and Benefits ordinance requiring employers who are recipients of city leases, contracts or financial assistance and who employ 25 or more workers to pay their employees a wage of at least 150 percent of the federal minimum wage.

>> The bill was expanded in February to also apply to companies who employ five or more workers.

>> City Solicitor Shelley Smith in a legal memorandum May 13 confirmed Council does not have the power to compel the city to extend the standards of the ordinance to city subcontractors or sub-lessees due to the city’s legal interpretation of the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter.

>> As a response, Goode in June proposed the charter change to explicitly give City Council that power.



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