$15 is on the Horizon for Security Officers at City’s Largest Institutions

Julie Blust; 215-713-6777; jblust@seiu32bj.org
Traci C. Benjamin; 215-300-0776; tbenjamin@seiu32bj.org

$15 is on the Horizon for Security Officers at City’s Largest Institutions

Mayor Kenney and Security Officers Celebrate that $15 Prevailing Wage will be implemented at Temple, Penn, Drexel, Hospitals and other Publicly-Subsidized Institutions 

Mayor Gives July 1 Deadline for Institutions and their Contractors to Come into Compliance

PHILADELPHIA-  Mayor Kenney today announced that starting on July 1, approximately 2,000 security officers will make the $15 an hour required by the city’s prevailing wage law. The move comes on the heels of Illinois and neighboring New Jersey raising their minimum wage to $15 an hour and is another step the city is taking to ensure that low-wage workers can lift themselves out of poverty.


“Working class Philadelphians should not have to struggle to support their families if they are employed, especially by world-class institutions. I’m excited that our institutions will be providing a livable wage at $15 an hour for all of our security officers and building service workers,” said Mayor Jim Kenney.


The security officers work for contractors and guard some of the city’s most important universities and hospitals, yet still do not yet make the city’s prevailing wage.

“As a father, this $15 an hour means a lot. I work hard protecting others, and this $15 shows that the work I do is respected,” said Theodore Johnson, a security officer for the last 23 years at Temple and other institutions.  “I especially like protecting the students. I give them excellent customer service. Once the trust is built with the students, we become family. Thank you Mayor Kenney for ensuring working Philadelphians can continue supporting our work family and our family at home. “

Mayor Kenney announced a July 1 deadline for the institutions—including Temple, Penn, Drexel and others—to come into compliance. The city’s amended prevailing wage law requires that if buildings receives tax subsidies, they must pay the prevailing rate to building service workers including security guards.


“With the worst deep poverty rate in the country, Philadelphia needs to do everything without our power to create good jobs with wages and benefits to support working families,” said Daisy Cruz, Mid-Atlantic District Director of 32BJ SEIU. “The Mayor is taking a much-needed step towards closing the loopholes that have kept many Philadelphians stuck in poverty jobs while taxpayers foot the bill.”


The city’s prevailing wage law was designed so that taxpayer dollars do not subsidize poverty jobs. Councilwoman Helen Gym first introduced a bill to expand the prevailing wage law to building service workers at universities, hospitals and other publicly-subsidized buildings.


A 2016 PEW report found that Philadelphia has the most city-approved business tax giveaways of the nation’s 30 largest cities. Over the past two decades, Philadelphia has subsidized developments and expansions that have changed the landscape of the city and prompted vibrant economic development. Despite the investment of tax dollars and requirements for prevailing rates for the workers who build the developments, many of the permanent service jobs created at the sites are still paying poverty wages, further contributing to the city’s deep poverty problem.


With 163,000 members in eleven states and Washington, D.C., 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.


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