Activists to Nutter: Enforce minimum wage now

A group of about three dozen minimum wage activists holding up yellow “Enforce Now” flyers stood outside mayor Nutter’s Office Tuesday morning asking for immediate enforcement of a minimum wage extension.

“The mayor has the power,” the group chanted as they waited for someone in the mayor’s office to come out.

Before amassing on the east wing of the second floor, the group attended City Council’s Committee on Commerce and Economic Development hearing. There, the committee approved to move the bill that would require all city subcontractors, not just contractors as currently mandated, to pay their workers 150 percent of the federal minimum wage, or $10.88 an hour.

Last month, voters approved a ballot question giving Council the authority to make the minimum wage requirement for all subcontractors a permanent law. The mayor also signed executive order last month that did the same for any bids or proposals signed after May 20 (the order could be undone by the next mayor — Council legislation is more permanent.)

Current contractors and subcontractors can’t be forced to pay the minimum wage standard until they sign new contracts. But the minimum wage activists want Nutter to use the bully pulpit and ask business to start paying the higher wages now.

“We’re concerned that people are still working full time, living in deep poverty here in the City of Philadelphia,” Bishop Dwayne D. Royster, executive director of Philadelphia Organized to Witness, Empower & Rebuild (POWER), said.

Nutter’s Chief of Staff Everett Gillison, who came out to greet the group, said that the administration is trying to renegotiate contracts and get it done “as quickly as we can.”

Royster, speaking on behalf of the group told Gillison that Nutter needs to be more vocal about increasing wages now and not when contracts are up for renewal.

“It’s good for Philadelphia, it’s good for business and it’s good all-around,” Royster said.

Gillison promised to deliver the message to the mayor. The mayor’s security detail also promised to deliver a t-shirt and lightsaber with the taped inscription that reads: “May the enforcement be with you.”

Council’s bill will be up for for first reading Thursday and a final vote will likely happen next week.

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