Philly Council approves prevailing wage bill

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Philadelphia City Councilwoman Helen Gym and Gabe Morgan of the Service Employees International Union (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Philadelphia City Councilwoman Helen Gym and Gabe Morgan of the Service Employees International Union (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Philadelphia City Council has approved prevailing wage legislation that applies to people working for large employers who receive tax breaks.

If passed, it should mean a wage increase for about 2,000 workers.

The measures calls for paying the prevailing wage to service employees working at the city’s bigger establishments that receive city money or tax breaks. That applies to those with and without union representation, said Gabe Morgan of the Service Employees International Union.

“The prevailing wage is either set by the going rate in the market, or it’s set by a list of employment rates set by the federal government,” he said. “And the city is requiring you pay whatever is the greater of those two.”

Councilwoman Helen Gym said the goal is to help people break the cycle of poverty.

“For the majority, almost all of whom are Philadelphians, it will put money in their pockets,” she said. “We collect more in wage taxes, and, most importantly, more money is circulated within our neighborhoods and communities.”

The bill now goes to Mayor Jim Kenney for review.  If he signs it into law, it would apply to future projects.

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