Bill would link workers' pay, builders' tax breaks

Security guards at the Comcast Towers of the future could be in for a big raise, if five City Council members get their way on legislation they plan to introduce today.

The bill would require some developers in the city to pay their service workers a prevailing wage. It would apply only to those developers who get financial assistance from the city - in the form of the 10-year tax abatement, for example - and only to residential developments with 25 or more units and office buildings with more than 25,000 square feet of space.

The Comcast Tower, the Cira Centre, and the Brewerytown residential development would all have been covered by the bill.

"We're not trying to gouge anybody here. We're not asking for anything extraordinary," said Councilman Jim Kenney, the bill's lead sponsor. "But if people are going to use the city's assistance, they need to pay a reasonable wage to their workers."

The bill's introduction was applauded by Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ district supervisor Wayne MacManiman. SEIU already represents many workers who perform such jobs, and advocates say the wages those workers earn help to push up the prevailing wage for nonunionized workers.

"This is for those who fall through the cracks," Kenney said, predicting security guards would benefit most.

Also yesterday, Councilman Juan F. Ramos said he would be introducing a resolution at today's Council session calling for the firing of radio personality Don Imus.

Usually, Council members distribute news releases and hold their news conferences the day of Council sessions. Yesterday's publicity blitz - led by Kenney and Ramos, who are both in tough reelection battles - suggested the candidates are eager to get their names out ahead of the May 15 primary.

Contact staff writer Patrick Kerkstra at 215-854-2827 or