Open Appeal to Councilman Bill Greenlee on $15 Ballot Question

It’s time to let Philly vote on on a $15 minimum wage.

We are in an unprecedented moment in working class struggle. There is real political momentum behind a doubling of the minimum-wage, not just in Philadelphia but across Pennsylvania. 15 Now, Fight For 15, Raise the Wage PA, POWER, too many unions and progressive organizations to name, and your colleagues in CIty Council, are working hard to win an increase in the minimum wage. PA State Senator Daylin Leach is introducing an aggressive bill for $15 an hour in Harrisburg. 5 out of 6 Philadelphia Mayoral candidates support raising the minimum wage to $15/hour.

A strong vote for $15 on the November ballot from Philadelphia will send a clear message to Harrisburg (and Washington DC) that the time has come for a long overdue raise.

All indicators of public opinion–from last November’s general election results, to local and national polls–show broad public support for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. A recent survey of Democratic Philadelphia voters found 87% of Philadelphians support a $15 minimum wage for all workers. Nationally, respected polls have shown 63% of our nation supports $15.

15 Now Philly members have been working tirelessly to find a way to win $15 in Philly. An army of dedicated volunteers met with City Council members and traveled to Harrisburg to talk to state representatives. We testified during Council Hearings, and spend thousands of hours canvassing talking to thousands of Philadelphians who need a raise. We filled the streets in massive numbers. And we diligently consulted economic, legal and political experts to find a way around Harrisburg’s ban on raising the minimum wage, even when we were told it was impossible.

Now, as we fight our way forward in the best way we know how, you have chosen to block us from introducing the ballot initiative.

We understand you are making what you see as principled arguments against putting a charter change to support 15 on the ballot. We know you don’t like charter changes, but our political choices are few.

It’s obvious there are more legal and political limitations on Philadelphia than on Seattle, San Francisco or Oakland. But we live in the poorest big city in the country, and there is a staggeringly large population of Black and Brown workers living in poverty. We can’t afford to wait.

Our city’s residents are already doing whatever it takes to get a raise for Philly workers. 7,000 church members and union members marched for $15 in MLK Day. Hundreds of Philadelphia’s fast food workers walked off the job for $15 and a union over the last year and a half. We are imploring you to do your job as our elected representative and put $15 on the ballot.

It is no longer enough to simply voice objections on process. Inaction by City Council is not acceptable to the working class families of this city. If you support raising the minimum wage to 15 an hour, and you don’t like our charter change, then you need to put forward a clear second option.

Are you willing to introduce binding legislation to raise the wage to 15 in Philly right now? If the answer is no, then clear the way for a ballot question, so you and your colleagues have political momentum on your side when we ask you to challenge Harrisburg.

Councilman Greenlee, we ask you to seriously consider your actions and the needs of your constituents. Today, after 5 years of hard work, Paid Sick Leave is finally on the books in Philly. You have worked hard to push many progressive issues through city council over the years. Yet despite this, and the work of your colleagues, Harrisburg still takes our taxes, runs our schools, profits from our parking tickets, and is even threatening to overturn Paid Sick Leave at the last minute.

Harrisburg will stop at nothing to take away our rights. And the time is now to show them we won’t stand for it anymore. No significant gains have ever been made for the working class by obeying the rules written by our oppressors. So, stand with us and continue the fight for $15.

Philadelphia wants to vote on $15 an hour. We we want to challenge Harrisburg’s undemocratic ban on raising the minimum wage. We are willing to do whatever it takes, and we ask you and all of City Council to do the same.

Let our city vote on a $15 minimum wage in November.