Philadelphia City Council approved a $5 billion budget for fiscal year 2020, but a small line item has labor groups cheering.
The Office of Labor Enforcement got an $84,000 bump from Mayor Kenney’s original proposed budget, bringing the office’s financial support at nearly $1.1 million.
The office is in charge of enforcing the city’s growing number of worker-protection laws, as well as providing worker education and outreach, but it has not been historically effective. That’s been due in part to a lack of staff and resources, which organizers and advocates sought to highlight in a lobbying visit to City Council in April.
With its new budget, the Office of Labor Enforcement will be able to hire two more staffers, bringing its total staff to five.
City Council had an incentive to increase its funding as many of its members introduced or supported laws the office is meant to enforce. Councilmember Cherelle Parker, for example, introduced the “just-cause” law against unfair firings for parking lot workers that passed in May. Councilmember Helen Gym introduced the “Fair Workweek” scheduling bill for service workers that passed in December.
The advocates who fought for increased funding — many of whom had also campaigned for laws such as Fair Workweek — said that more funding is just the first step.
“We’re excited that the city is making this initial investment in protecting the wins workers have fought so hard for,” said Madison Nardy, a retail worker who helped lead the campaign with labor group One Pennsylvania. “We plan to keep fighting for an even bigger vision of community-based enforcement.”