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Photo series: Fair for all: Taking a stand for Fair Workweek in Philadelphia (2018)

By Mary Pham

It was a big year for workers’ rights in Philadelphia! In June 2018, Councilwoman Helen Gym introduced legislation to establish common-sense standards to protect low-wage workers against unpredictable scheduling in the food service, retail, and hospitality sectors. The Philadelphia Food Policy Advisory Council’s Workforce and Economic Development subcommittee worked with One PA, a nonprofit that unites low income and working-class activists, to learn more about their campaign and brainstorm ways FPAC can lend support. The Workforce subcommittee guides the City in developing and implementing policies and practices to build a stronger regional economy and just food system in which workers along the entire food chain enjoy quality jobs that provide economic stability and upward mobility. At FPAC meetings, Political Director Salewa Ogunmefun and Campaigner Felicia Carter presented on the details of the Fair Workweek legislation and highlighted the importance of gathering workers’ stories that describe the impact an unstable schedule has on predicting monthly incomes, planning for childcare, and making ends meet overall. The proposed legislation would require that chains with at least 250 employees and over 30 locations provide advanced notice of schedules, a pathway to access more hours of work, compensation for last-minute schedule changes, and protection from retaliation. Workforce members put out a call for workers’ stories, sent a letter of support urging the Kenney Administration to support the legislation, and incorporated the bill’s components into its Guide to Fair Labor for Good Food Businesses. On December 6th, City Council passed the Fair Workweek legislation through a 14-3 vote. This is a tremendous victory for over 130,000 food service, retail, and hospitality workers, and it will be key to building stronger families and a stronger Philadelphia!