Mayor Peduto executive order requires $15-an-hour minimum wage for city workers
November 10, 2015 10:57 PM
"Nobody who puts in 40 hours should have to live in poverty," Mayor Bill Peduto said this morning.
By Robert Zullo / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Mayor Bill Peduto, to coincide with the national Fight for $15 strikes and marches Tuesday, issued an executive order that will require city employees to be paid at least $15 an hour and a call for legislation requiring city contractors to pay the same minimum wages.
The order, which will be phased in over five years, will affect about 300 city employees, ranging from laborers to clerical workers, about 10 percent of the city workforce. Most city employees are covered by collective bargaining agreements.
“This city was built by working people,” the mayor said, flanked by several dozen fast-food and other service workers at a news conference, just one of hundreds of nationwide events to rally support for increasing the minimum wage. “Nobody who puts in 40 hours should have to live in poverty.”
The affected city workers will be given a boost to $12.50 per hour starting Jan. 1, 2017; $13.75 an hour on Jan. 1, 2019; and $15 starting Jan. 1, 2021.
The order also calls on the city finance director to submit legislation to council requiring all city contractors to comply with the same minimum wage commitments, with penalties for violations.
The city could not immediately provide cost estimates, except in the first year, when it will cost about $150,000 to increase wages to $12.50.
City Councilman Ricky Burgess, who has convened a wage committee to report on the effects of an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour, called the testimony received over two days of hearings last month stunning.
“I did not expect a woman to tell me she worked for UPMC for 30 years and makes less than $15 an hour,” Mr. Burgess said, adding that stories of workers toiling for health care giants Highmark and UPMC who could not afford their employers’ insurance coverage for themselves and their families also was troubling. “That’s what shocked me, that they could not participate in the services that the hospitals provide. … It was overwhelming.”
According to preliminary findings of Mr. Burgess’ committee, which will present a report to council next month with an eye toward potential legislative action, Pittsburgh’s hospitals are “wager-makers,” setting employment and payment standards. UPMC and Highmark’s Allegheny Health Network employ nearly 29,000 full-time employees in the city limits, about a third of them service workers with a median wage of about $12.94 an hour, pay that make some employees dependent on public assistance such as housing subsidies and food stamps, Mr. Burgess said. However, he would not tip his hand as to what type of legislation might emerge from the committee’s work.
“I would rather have a positive belief that the nonprofits would begin to change,” he said. “Government has a moral mandate to incentivize their change.”
A UPMC spokeswoman declined comment.
Robert Zullo: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-3909 or on Twitter @rczullo.
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