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Economy & Business

Higher Minimum Wage For Employees Of Some City Contractors One Step Closer To Implementation

Jake Savitz
90.5 WESA
Pittsburgh's City-County Building on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017.

Pittsburgh City Council gave preliminary approval Wednesday to a measure that would require a $15 an hour minimum wage for employees of some contractors.

The bill would apply to companies in professional service contracts with the city over $100,000.

According to data from the City Controller's Office, 31 contracts over $100,000 were approved in 2015. Most were related to construction projects, health care and software upgrades.

When the measure was introduced on Monday, Nov. 20, Mayor Bill Peduto said implementing it would have a minimal effect on the cost of contracts and the city's finances.

"We want to work with companies that also believe a worker's value should be a minimum of $15 an hour," he said. "We are hoping this will be the standard for which Pittsburgh companies will recognize the worth of their workers." 

Peduto said this was the second part of a city wage plan that began in November 2015, when he signed an executive order to gradually increase minimum wage for city employees to $15 an hour by 2021. It's currently $12.50.

At the City Council vote, Sam Ashbaugh, the city's Chief Financial Officer, fielded concerns about the legality of the measure by council member Darlene Harris.

"We've worked with the [City of Pittsburgh Department of Law], and this only applies to contracts with the city, not other private employers who have no business interaction with the city," Ashbaugh said. 

Ashbaugh told Harris that requiring these firms to follow the city's pay rules is legal. It passed with five votes and one abstention, from Harris.

A final vote on the measure will take place Tuesday, Dec. 5.