Parking Workers Score Historic Victory to Transform a Low-Wage Industry
Philadelphia–Today, the city of Philadelphia became the first city in the nation to pass industrywide “Just Cause” legislation. The “Just Cause” legislation will apply to more than 1,000 parking workers who work in a low-wage industry where mistreatment and firings are common.
“Today’s victory for parking workers is a win for the entire labor movement. Low-wage workers are not only fighting for a living wage but so that they can have stability, safety and dignity on the job. Philadelphia parking workers are paving the way for millions of workers across the county,” said Héctor Figueroa, President of 32BJ SEIU.
The “Just Cause” bill would require parking employers to demonstrate “just cause” to fire, unfairly cut hours, or discipline an employee. The stability brought by “just cause” is critical for low-wage industries where job loss or a missed paycheck can be catastrophic for workers and their families.
“Parking workers should not have to fear for their safety or the safety of their customers, or be deprived of basic rights like bathroom breaks, due to understaffing, nor should they have to fear termination or their hours being slashed for arbitrary reasons,” said Philadelphia Councilwoman Cherelle Parker, the sponsor of the legislation. “This legislation is not anti-business, but rather protects the rights of workers.”
In addition to the “Just Cause” bill, Philadelphia Council passed a companion, “Minimum Staffing” bill, which would mandate parking garages, parking lots and valet services to provide sufficient staff to ensure the safety of employees and customers.
“I want to thank City Council for taking this step towards making parking jobs safer and better. My goal every day is to go to work and return safely at night,” said Philadelphia parking worker, Gina Cain. “I don’t want to have to fear for my life or my job. Thanks to City Council parking workers like me will now have safety and stability on the job.”
The Philadelphia parking workers “Just Cause” bill comes as a similar bill advances for NYC fast food workers. There are currently “Just Cause” statutes in Montana (state law), Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico but Philadelphia’s bill is the first industrywide mandate in the country.
“Right now, parking employers can fire workers for any or no reason at all. Just cause ensures basic fairness and gives workers the chance to correct any issues before losing their livelihoods. Philadelphians should be proud to be the first city in the country to push back against a system that treats workers as disposable,” said Leo Gertner, staff attorney at the National Employment Law Project
Parking lot attendants across Philadelphia have been coming together to organize with 32BJ SEIU to raise their wages, standards and have a better quality of life. According to a report by the Keystone Research Center, parking attendants earn as little as $8.16 an hour and must pay for their health care out of their meager wages or go without.
The Philadelphia parking attendants are the latest group of low-wage workers to join the fight for a living wage and a union in Philadelphia. Just last year, 1,500 Philadelphia airport workers won their first-ever union contract, more than doubling their wages. And nearly 3,000 Philadelphia security officers organized over the last eight years to transform a low-wage industry into one with living wages and full health care.
With over 175,000 members in 11 states, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property services union in the country.