Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto signed an executive order Tuesday that will mandate an eventual minimum wage of $15 for employees of the city of Pittsburgh beginning in January 2017.
The pay increases will be phased in over five years beginning at $12.50 an hour in January 2017; $13.75 in 2019; and $15.00 by 2021. Kevin Acklin, chief of staff to Mayor Peduto, said the initial increase to $12.50 will cost the city $150,000. Future hikes will be factored into budget plans during the five-year timeline.
The order only affects city employees and workers. The Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act of 1968 prohibits any local ordinances from superseding the federally mandated minimum wage for all workers, public and private.
“But that doesn’t mean that we can’t pay our workers a salary that we wish to see the businesses in the city of Pittsburgh pay their workers,” said Peduto. "And that doesn’t mean that we can’t require that for every bid and contract that we do with the City of Pittsburgh.”
Peduto is calling on Council to pass legislation next year that would require city contractors to also pay their employees at least a $15 minimum wage. This could include health care providers, construction companies, and maintenance workers.
Ashona Osbourne joined the mayor for the announcement. She works at the Pittsburgh Zoo and McDonalds and won’t be directly affected by the order but hopes this will spur private businesses to follow suit.
Osbourne says that with her 20-hour work day, she has asked her aunt to help raise her son.
“I don’t want to rely on welfare. I don’t want to rely on regular assistance. I want to be able to be that superhero that my son believes that I am. And I can’t be it on $7.25,” she said.
Darlene Nicholson-Wagner is a lab processor at Allegheny General Hospital. She has not been able to plan for the future on a minimum-wage paycheck.
“I’m among the 46 percent of American workers who make less than $15 an hour, and I can tell you, it is a real struggle. I’m 58 years old and I have nothing set aside for my retirement,” she said.
A few hours after the mayor’s announcement, local fast food, hospital and nursing home workers protested outside UPMC’s corporate headquarters to demand a $15 per hour minimum wage for all workers, joining other protestors in more than 500 cities nationwide.
Nicholson-Wagner said a more livable minimum wage impacts everyone, not just those campaigning to change their own pay.
“The Fight for $15 is important because we want to see our city prosper. And that starts with workers who have wages that will enable us to reinvest in our communities. It’s hard for any of us to get ahead if we don’t all get ahead.”