PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It’s called the Fight for Fifteen, a $15 an hour minimum wage, and a coalition of groups brought their call for a higher minimum wage to Mayor Bill Peduto’s office on Tuesday.
“If you work 40 hours a week, you shouldn’t be living in poverty,” said Paul Griffin, a Fight for Fifteen protester.
But at today’s minimum wage, $7.25 an hour, a worker only makes $15,080, below the poverty line for a family.
“We’re standing up for all low-wage workers today for a better Pittsburgh,” noted William Base, another protester.
Protesters rallied at city hall, and then Peduto invited them into his office where his chief of staff Kevin Acklin read this executive order.
“Mayor Peduto hereby orders as follows: the city of Pittsburgh shall pay its full-time employees a minimum hourly wage of no less than $15 an hour,” intoned Acklin to cheers from the crowd.
Peduto said the city needs to lead by example, so 300 city workers will get a phased-in pay increase.
The mayor also asked city council to require a $15 minimum wage for any organization doing business with the city.
“They should follow the same example that the city of Pittsburgh is doing with their employees,” said the mayor.
Under Peduto’s plan, the minimum wage will rise to $12.50 per hour on Jan. 1, 2017, to $13.75 per hour in 2019, and then to $15.00 an hour on Jan. 1, 2021.
Ashana Osborne says she works two eight-hour jobs a day — at McDonald’s and the Zoo — and it’s taking a toll on her and her five year-old.
“I don’t want to rely on welfare. I don’t want to rely on medical assistance. I want to be the super hero that my son believes that I am, and I can’t be it at $7.25,” said Osborne, breaking down in tears. “So we need to come together.”
The mayor called on everyone to reward those who join the fight for fifteen.
“The businesses that are willing to follow the example and sign onto the pledge with us are the ones where we should shop at, the restaurants that we go to, the businesses that we utilize,” said Peduto.
Now under state law, the city cannot impose its own minimum wage on all who work here.
But the mayor can raise the wages of city workers, and city council can require those doing business with the city to hike their minimum wage.
As for the budget impact, the mayor says the first hike in 2017 will cost the city $150,000.