A POWER Success Story: a raise for the Airport concessions workers

A POWER Success Story: a raise for the Airport concessions workers

Starting next year, the City of Philadelphia will require a base wage of $10.88/hr in new contracts with food and retail businesses at Philadelphia International Airport. This higher “living wage” standard will increase pay for roughly 1,500 workers.

These new contracts will also require food and retail subcontractors to provide health care and paid sick days, bringing them in line with the City’s existing 21st Century Minimum Wage and Benefits Standard that applies to businesses with city contracts.

Currently, the average wage of Airport concessions workers is $8.83/hr., keeping them below poverty line.

“With the new contracts, these hardworking families will see $4,300 more every year in income. Together, that means $6.4 million more for working Philadelphians,” said POWER Leader Rev. Melanie DeBouse. “We applaud the City’s choice to take steps towards ending poverty and building a city of opportunity that works for all.”

The decision by the City to include this higher wage standard, which follows pressure from POWER – a faith-based coalition with 40 member congregations from across the city – and its union allies, comes amidst a national movement to increase wages and improve working conditions for airport workers.

Last week, voters in Washington state passed a ballot initiative creating a $15 minimum wage for hospitality and transportation workers in and around the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

POWER and its allies applauded that decision in a City Hall press conference last week, and challenged Philadelphia leaders to follow that example.

Advocating for living wage, family-sustaining airport jobs has been part of POWER’s economic justice agenda since 2011. POWER now aims to push for living wages for all workers employed by firms subcontracted to perform city business.

“It shouldn’t be the responsibility of government programs to help working people get food on the table,” said Pati Krasensky — a POWER Leader from St. Vincent’s Catholic Church in Germantown – referring to the fact that a majority of subcontracted Airport workers must turn to food stamps or other public assistance to make ends meet. “It is the responsibility of the profitable companies that employ them to pay a living wage.”

In 2014 POWER will mobilize support for a referendum on the May municipal ballot that will ask voters to affirm City Council’s power to extend the 21st Century Minimum Wage and Benefits Standard to all subcontracted workers employed by City-subsidized projects.

Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower & Rebuild (POWER) is a faith-based community organizing effort comprised of 41 member congregations representing more than 25,000 people. POWER organizes people of faith and works with allies to lift up a prophetic voice for justice in Philadelphia. POWER is nonpartisan and is not aligned explicitly or implicitly with any candidate or party. We do not endorse or support candidates for office.