Important development: Philadelphia City Council Looks at $15/hour Minimum Wage

By Kate Goodman, 15 Now Philly

On Thursday, December 11th, during the last 2014 session of the Philadelphia City Council, Councilman Kenyatta Johnson introduced a resolution that would authorize a hearing on the $15 an hour minimum wage in Philadelphia. Over 30 members of 15 Now Philly attended the session and cheered loudly as Councilman Johnson a introduced the hearing resolution. Two low-wage workers, Justin Murden, who works in a Center City bar and as a security guard at one of Philadelphia’s sports stadiums, and Sarah Giskin, a Temple student working two low wage service sector jobs, testified to demonstrate Philadelphia’s need for an immediate raise in the minimum wage.

The resolution was approved unanimously by City Council. The hearing will be held mid-February in front of the Committee of Commerce & Economic Development. 15 Now Philly is working with Johnson’s office to set an exact date.

Councilman Johnson’s office and 15 Now Philly are working together to gather low wage workers and workers’ rights organizations, policy experts, business owners, respected economists and local government law experts to testify in front of council to demonstrate the merit and the legality of raising Philadelphia’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. Before the hearing, 15 Now Philly will be working to secure support from more City Council members and doing grassroots organizing to pack the hearings.

Pennsylvania has a so-called preemption law that is widely interpreted as banning cities from raising the minimum wage above state levels, which is $7.25 in Pennsylvania. However, 15 Now and legal allies are challenging that interpretation and building political pressure to assert Philadelphia’s right to act on behalf of low-wage workers.

15 Now Philly and allied low wage worker groups were already planning¬†to hold Philadelphia’s 1st ever Low Wage Worker Summit on ¬†Saturday, January 17th. Restaurant workers, airport workers, fast food workers, adjunct professors, taxi drivers, and healthcare workers are expected to attend to strategize about Philly’s upcoming elections and plan for a year of worker victories, including the $15 minimum wage, during 2015.