Philadelphia joins roster of cities tackling low wages

“Last week, Mayor Nutter signed an executive order requiring that employees of subcontractors on city contracts must be paid at least the city’s so-called living wage of $10.88 an hour, a floor that will rise to $12 in January. Today, city voters are widely expected to put an exclamation point on Nutter’s move by approving a ballot measure – Question No. 1 – that would establish the living wage for city subcontractors as city law, making it difficult for one of Nutter’s successors in City Hall to easily reverse the pay gains.

Nikishia Watson, of West Philadelphia, waits for her train home after a shift cleaning terminals at Philadelphia International Airport. She earns $8.50 an hour to support herself and her daughter while also taking classes to finish a bachelor's degree. (Matthew Hall / Philly.com Staff Photographer)

Nikishia Watson, of West Philadelphia, waits for her train home after a shift cleaning terminals at Philadelphia International Airport. She earns $8.50 an hour to support herself and her daughter while also taking classes to finish a bachelor’s degree. (Matthew Hall / Philly.com Staff Photographer)

“A “yes” vote would put Philadelphia in the mix of major American cities that are looking for creative ways to boost living standards for low-wage workers, at a time when the U.S. Congress and many statehouses – including GOP-controlled Harrisburg – are balking at a higher minimum wage for all workers. Opponents claim that raising wages would increase unemployment as business owners look to protect their bottom line.”

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