Image

6:54 AM / Wednesday February 1, 2023

14 Dec 2018

A Progressive Day In Council

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
December 14, 2018 Category: Local Posted by:

ABOVE PHOTO:  (Phila. City Council)

Philadelphia City Council passed three bills designed to make things better for those on the wrong side of the poverty line.

By Denise Clay

For people like Trine Smith, visits to Philadelphia City Council that end like last week did are few and far between.

Smith, who currently resides in Mantua, was in Council to champion a bill proposed by Councilman Curtis Jones that would require landlords to give current tenants first preference when it comes to renewing their leases and to make it so landlords couldn’t just throw tenants out of apartments or rental housing arbitrarily. The Philadelphia Tenants Union and other groups had helped fight hard for this bill.

When it passed unanimously, Smith could hardly contain herself.

“I cried,” she said. 

“I’m overjoyed and ecstatic,” said Jarrett Smith, the organizer of the Tenants Union’s efforts regarding this bill. “We’ve been working on this for two years. This is a vote for tenants rights in Philadelphia.”

In fact, there were a lot of winners in City Council chambers that day. City contractors making less than $15 an hour won when Council voted to pass the Minimum Wage bill. And people looking for consistent work hours won when the Fair Work Week bill passed.

It was a banner day for those in need that had been a long time coming, said the Rev. Jay Broadnax, president of the Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity.

“This is pretty big,” he said. “It’s a good start.”

On a day when Council Chamber was packed and public comment on the bills took twice as long as usual, supporters of all three bills made their voices heard until the votes were cast. 

While all the bills were important, the Fair Work Week bill, sponsored by Councilwoman Helen Gym, was the most anxiously awaited. As she brought the bill up for passage, Gym conceded that it wouldn’t solve all of the city’s problems with poverty. 

But it’s a step forward, and that’s important, she said.

“Poverty is not inevitable,” she said. “It is manufactured. This is a floor, not a ceiling.”

As the vote was taken, activists from UNITE Here, a union made up of the restaurant, hotel and hospitality workers that will be most impacted by the bill, and anti-poverty activists from POWER Interfaith (People Organized To Witness, Empower and Rebuild) said thank you to the councilmembers. The bill passed by a 14-3 vote and the crowd erupted in cheers. Councilmen Brian O’Neill, David Oh and Al Taubenberger voted no.

While Fair Work Week got a shot in the arm last Monday when Mayor Jim Kenney publicly declared his support for it during a news conference at the AFL-CIO Union Hall in Center City, that support — and his support for a new minimum wage — was set in stone when he issued a statement following the votes.

“I applaud members of City Council for their overwhelming approval today of two pieces of legislation that will help give working Philadelphians a chance to improve the quality of their family’s lives,” Kenney said. “The Fair Work Week and Minimum Wage bills will go a long way to ensuring that our hard-working residents have the dignity of stable employment and a steady schedule. With Council passage, I look forward now to signing both measures into law.”

The Fair Work Week bill goes into effect in 2020, while the other anti-poverty bills go into effect within 30 days of Mayor Kenney signing them.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Leave a Comment

Recent News

Local

Office of Economic Opportunity debuts virtual educational series to advance pathways toward generational wealth

January 30, 2023

Tweet Share Pin Email  PHILADELPHIA – The Department of Commerce, Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) is advancing...

Suburban News

Black History Month events in Montgomery County 

January 30, 2023

Tweet Share Pin Email Here is a listing of this year’s upcoming events. All will be held...

Stateside

Pennsylvanians encouraged to use myPATH to file 2022 PA tax returns

January 30, 2023

Tweet Share Pin Email With the opening of tax filing season, the Department of Revenue is encouraging...

Color Of Money

Preparing for tax season: Three tips to keep your documents organized

January 27, 2023

Tweet Share Pin Email BPT Taxes can be a daunting task. Some people are so anxious that...

Health

What is DME and why it matters if you have diabetes

January 27, 2023

Tweet Share Pin Email BPT Whether you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, or are a...

Food And Beverage

What’s Cookin’? 7 Bean Stew

January 27, 2023

Tweet Share Pin Email Tweet Share Pin Email Related Posts What’s Cookin’?: 7 Bean Stew What’s Cookin’?...

The Philadelphia Sunday Sun Staff