Scores of Philadelphia service workers, such as janitors and security guards, will get better pay under a law expanding the city's prevailing wage regulations that Mayor Kenney signed Thursday.

The new requirements apply to publicly subsidized institutions including universities, hospitals, and stadiums.

"This marks an important step toward assuring low-wage employees a family-sustaining wage," Kenney said at the signing.

Prevailing wages vary by position and are often tied to the rate paid to unionized workers in that field. The prevailing wage for security officers is about $15 an hour and for janitors nearly $17 an hour, according to SEIU 32BJ, the local service workers' union.

Since 2008, city law has required that the prevailing wage be paid by employers at large commercial office and residential buildings that benefit from tax breaks or other subsidies.

The expansion, introduced by Councilwoman Helen Gym and passed by City Council this month, means those requirements will also be imposed on universities, hospitals, stadiums, the Convention Center, Philadelphia International Airport, and the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority. The law took effect immediately.

Vanessa Highsmith, a security officer at Temple University who attended the signing, said she expects her pay to go from $10.45 per hour to $15. She said the extra money will bring financial security while allowing her to do little things for her 6-year-old son: Get new school uniforms, buy football cleats, take him to the movies.

"Now I have the assurance," she said, "that things will get better."

tnadolny@phillynews.com

215-854-2730 @TriciaNadolny