City Council passes bill extending minimum wage and benefits standard

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 during a committee hearing last week.
Credit: Charles Mostoller / Metro

City Council on Thursday unanimously passed legislation that would give Council members the power to extend Philadelphia’s Minimum Wage and Benefits Ordinance to city subcontractors.

The ordinance, first adopted by Philadelphia in 2005, requires employers who are recipients of city leases, contracts or financial assistance to pay their employees a wage of at least 150 percent of the federal minimum wage.

But, according a legal memorandum issued in May by City Solicitor Shelley Smith, that standard doesn’t currently apply to city subcontractors or sub-recipients of leases or financial assistance, and City Council does not have the authority to compel the city to extend the minimum wage requirement to those workers.

That opinion promoted Councilman Wilson Goode Jr. to in June introduce the most recent legislation providing for a change to the city’s Home Rule Charter that would explicitly give City Council the power to extend the minimum wage standards to subcontracted workers.

Though Mayor Michael Nutter’s Chief of Staff Everett Gillison said during a committee hearing last week the administration is concerned the legislation’s language could have a “chilling effect” on private developers who receive city financial assistance, as well as on recipients of city grants, the package passed Thursday to rousing applause from advocates gathered in Council chambers.

The proposed charter change will now be included as a ballot question during May’s election, leaving the final decision up to the city’s voters.


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