Peduto orders City to raise minimum wage

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto during his campaign in 2013.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto during his campaign in 2013.

By Dale Shoemaker / News Editor

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Amid a national discussion about workers’ pay and the federal minimum wage, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto has issued an executive order requiring the City to pay all its workers at least $15 per hour.

Peduto issued the order at a press conference Tuesday morning, which mandates the City pay all full-time employees at least $15 per hour by 2021, phasing in increases over the next five years to comply with the City’s Act 47 Recovery Plan, a plan from the State that designates Pittsburgh as financially distressed. The order will affect about 300 City employees, according to the release, including laborers and clerical workers.

The City will begin phasing in pay increases in 2017, giving it a full year to work the increases into its budget. Peduto introduced his 2016 budget to City Council on Monday.

In Pennsylvania, Act 47 allows the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development to designate certain municipalities as financially distressed. Pittsburgh received its designation in 2003, and retains the status in part because Act 47 municipalities receive tax revenue from people who work in the area, even if they don’t live there.

Peduto issued two other charges in his order, including one that the Office of Management and Budget issue guidance on how to work the wage increases into the City budget by Jan. 1, 2016. Peduto also called on City Council to introduce legislation early next year that would require all companies that contract with the City to pay their workers no less than $15 or face penalties.

“Current rates of pay for too many workers nationwide — and within our city — do not provide enough to raise a family, own a home and be part of the American Dream,” Peduto said in the release. “That forces government to step in and provide extra public assistance for them to survive.”

Backed by the momentum of the national Fight for $15 movement — a push by workers and activists to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour — several student groups at Pitt and a local branch of Fight for $15 rallied on campus last semester to raise the state’s minimum wage.

Currently, the Pennsylvania Senate is nearing a deadline on a bill that would raise the state minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $10.10 per hour. Pennsylvania state senators Christine Tartaglione (D-Philadelphia), Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) along with eight others senators, introduced the bill in January and issued a discharge petition on Oct. 21 to force the bill out of committee and onto the Senate floor for consideration.

In the Northeast, Pennsylvania has one of the lowest minimum wages compared to its neighboring states. Maryland’s current minimum wage is $8.25 per hour and is set to increase to $10.10 by July 2018. New Jersey’s minimum wage is currently $8.38 and is now indexed to increase alongside the Consumer Price Index. New York’s minimum wage is set to increase to $9 per hour by the end of this year, while its Governor, Andrew Cuomo, is pushing for a $15 minimum wage.

In July, Presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), an independent candidate seeking the Democratic nomination, introduced legislation to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour.

Editor’s Note: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this story stated that the City would fully implement the $15 minimum wage by 2020. The City will full implement the wage increase by 2021. The story has been updated to reflect this change. 

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