Temple University and other publicly-subsidized institutions in Philadelphia will have to pay security guards a minimum wage of $15 an hour starting July 1, Mayor Jim Kenney announced during a Tuesday press conference on Main Campus.
“Taxpayers’ dollars should not subsidize poverty wages,” Kenney said, surrounded by members of 32BJ SEIU, the largest property service workers’ union in the country, during the event on Cecil B. Moore Avenue near Broad.
“Working-class Philadelphians should not have to struggle to support their families if they are employed, especially by world-class institutions, like the ones here,” Kenney added.
City Council expanded the prevailing wage law in 2016 to include universities and hospitals, but it has not yet been implemented to include security guards due to loopholes in the law, said Daisy Cruz, the Mid-Atlantic director of 32BJ SEIU.
The city wanted to make sure the prevailing law included all institutions before moving forward with the implementation, Cruz said.
“Expanding the prevailing wage law is the first step towards closing the loopholes that have kept many Philadelphians stuck in poverty while taxpayers foot the bill,” Cruz said, speaking with Kenney on Tuesday.
At Temple, only Allied Universal officers who work building security will be given wage increases because of the law expansion, said Gene Cummings, Allied Universal’s district manager for the university.
Unions like 32BJ SEIU that represent security officers participate in collective bargaining with the university to determine employees’ salaries, a university spokesperson wrote in an email to The Temple News.
The $15 wage law will improve life for building security guards, said Mike Brown, Sr., who works as a security officer and serves on the board of 32BJ SEIU.
“It’s a struggle out here,” Brown said. “We’re here to let you know that with the little bit of money we are making, it’s hard to survive on.”
Cruz said that security guards at Philadelphia institutions currently average between $11 and $13 per hour of work.
The union chose to make the announcement on Main Campus because the university receives subsidies from the city, Cruz said.
“We know that Temple and larger universities like Penn are always talking about trying to combat poverty,” she added. “We are very confident that this is going to happen, that they’re going to go ahead and implement it.”
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