POWER has made getting a living wage for workers employed by subcontractors at the airport a major part of its Jobs and Justice for Airport Workers campaign. We had hoped to get the 21st century living wage — 150% of minimum wage — as a provision that applied also to subcontractors in the latest lease agreement with the airlines.
That did not happen.
But perhaps our protests and organizing have had more effect that we had realized…
On Tuesday, the same day the National Employment Law Project released a report detailing the economic impact and demographic impact of Philadelphia airport workers, Councilman Wilson Goode, Jr. announced that he will introduce legislation extending the 21st Century Minimum Wage and Benefits ordinance to city sub-lessees and subcontractors.
In 2005, the city enacted the Goode-sponsored ordinance requiring employers who are recipients of city leases to pay workers a living wage.
In February of this year, that ordinance was expanded to include companies with as few as 5 employees.
But Mayor Nutter’s administration has insisted that the provisions of that ordinance do not apply to employees of city subcontractors, such as thousands of airport skycaps, wheelchair attendants and baggage handlers, who have now spoken out about poor job training, low pay, and inadequate equipment and safety protections.
In response, Goode is proposing a Philadelphia Home Rule Charter amendment mandating that City Council will be given the explicit authority to “require those who contract with the city or are recipients of any city financial assistance to pass along the requirements of the 21st century living wage ordinance.
This would move low wage workers at the airport from $7.25 an hour to $10.88.
Should Goode’s proposal receive approval from the majority of City Council members and the Mayor, it would be included as proposition on the ballot in a general election on May 20, 2014.
As people of faith, don’t we have to advocate for the least among us. Perhaps the voters will have the last say. But let’s pray that there is hope on the horizon for the most poorly paid workers at the airport…