By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Tempers flared today at a City Council hearing as one lawmaker accused the Nutter administration of giving too many exemptions to local companies so they don’t have to pay workers what’s considered a “living” wage.
Under the city’s “Minimum Wage and Benefits Standard,” companies that do business with the city must pay its workers 150 percent of the federal minimum wage.
But at a hearing, Councilman Wilson Goode said the Nutter administration has been abusing its ability to grant waivers to the law under the claim that it’s in the best interests of the city.
Goode clashed with Mary Stitt, chief of staff to the managing director.
(Goode:) “I thought that it (the ‘best interests’ exemption) might be needed in certain situations, (but) not to be used for 38 percent of the waivers, or over 40 percent of the waivers. You abused the authority! You abused the waiver authority!”
(Stitt:) “I’m sorry, but for the record I’m going to make it clear that I did not, and the administration did not, abuse the authority. That may be your interpretation. But this is a hearing, and this is on the record: we absolutely did not abuse the authority.”
(Goode:) “Thirty-eight percent!”
(Stitt:) “And there was no unethical process here, sorry.”
(Goode:) “Thirty-eight percent of the waivers were in the best interests of the city?!”
The committee then approved Goode’s measure, which gives Council’s “Living Wage and Benefits Review Committee” the final say on all waivers. Should it pass the full Council — which is expected — the mayor is likely to veto it.