Transcripts of full meetings of the council.

We're trying -- this is the last day of January, but I think it's still significant enough of an issue to ask that January be Poverty Awareness Month. A startling statistic I read, that 85 people, 85 individuals have the combined wealth of 3.5 billion of the world's poorest people, 85 individuals. And I'm not an Occupy Philadelphia kind of guy, but it is startling to me that 85 individuals can own that much wealth.

In the City of Philadelphia, 26 percent of adults live below the poverty guidelines. Thirty-nine percent of all children in Philadelphia live below the poverty guidelines.

This week, in the same week, President Obama not calling for 9.99, like Herman Cain, called for 10.10 in a living wage for contract workers for the federal government. In the same week, Wilson Goode, Jr. held hearings to look at our practices to establish a living wage of people that contract with the City of Philadelphia, and I was astonished, astonished, astonished to see how many waivers were given to allow people to earn less than what they should.

According to the Bureau of Vital Statistics, the working poor are persons who spend at least 27 weeks in the labor force working or looking for work, but whose incomes fall below the official poverty level.

Today I introduced this resolution to bring awareness, and one of the things that ironically we need to be aware of is our municipal workforce. In May last year, Temple University did a study on City workers, and they are twice as likely today as they were five years ago to have incomes that fall below the poverty guidelines for families of four when wages are not adjusted annually. That means the mean salary of 7,500 members of AFSCME District Council 33 earn less than $35,000 a year, as workers of the municipal workforce of 33 and 47 are required to live in the City where everything is going up around them. Gas, food, housing all have gone up, but yet they have not gotten a raise.

Yesterday on one of the coldest days of the year -- it was 2 degrees Celsius -- a major water main broke three blocks from my house. I got texts all over the place about it. Councilman, what you going to do about that? You know how it goes. I can't fix -- I couldn't weld a pipe if my life depended on it, but when I got to the scene, members of District Council 33 were on the scene in frigid weather handling their business, and I could only feel compelled to say what I'm saying today because of it. They're a valued asset.

We had the largest snowfall in decades, and we fielded maybe 50 or so calls on streets, and every one of those times -- and the Administration gets credit too, but the people that were out there shoveling those snows and keeping the City of Philadelphia from being Atlanta were members of the municipal union.

So it's Poverty Awareness Month, but I want to make it a point to say thank you to our municipal workforce, and we need to thank them not only with our words but with our deeds by making sure that they get a fair living wage.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Keyboard shortcuts

j previous speech k next speech