Philly workers ask City Council to pledge support for labor protections on the first day of the new term

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Philly workers turned out on the first day of Philadelphia City Council’s new term, pushing for workers’ rights to be at the top of the legislative agenda this year.

Forty-five workers spoke one-on-one with City Council members Thursday morning, asking legislators to sign a pledge to fight for workers’ rights in 2024.

The action — led by the Pennsylvania chapter of the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA), Philly Black Worker Project, Community Legal Services, Hand in Hand: The Domestic Employers Network, Juntos, VietLead and other advocacy organizations — comes ahead of anti-retaliation legislation expected to be introduced by prime sponsor Councilmember Kendra Brooks this term.

Guadalupe Canchola, a domestic worker and organizer with Pa. NDWA since 2018, said workers’ goal with the new legislation and continued advocacy is to strengthen the protections that the Philadelphie Domestic Worker Bill of Rights first established when it was passed in 2019.

Members of the Pennsylvania chapter of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and other workers rights groups asked Philadelphia City Council members to sign a pledge to support workers on the first day of City Council’s new term, Jan. 25, 2024. (Emily Neil/WHYY)

Canchola said some employers are sometimes “aggressive” with domestic workers and refuse to pay them and steal their wages. Many of the estimated 16,000 domestic workers in Philadelphia are women and immigrants, making them vulnerable to threats of retaliation based on immigration status.

“Queremos que la alcaldía tome cartas en el asunto y que nos dé realmente un respaldo porque lo necesitamos para seguir luchando”, dijo Canchola.

“We want City Hall to take action on the matter and really give us support because we need it to keep fighting,” Canchola said.

Canchola later approached Councilmember Mark Squilla in the hallway outside of City Council chambers, asking him to sign the pledge to protect workers, which reads: “The working people in Philadelphia, including my family members and other loved ones, deserve to have their rights respected. I, Councilmember [space], pledge to make protecting Philadelphia workers a priority in 2024.”

Councilmember Squilla responded, “You have my support,” while signing the pledge.

Councilmembers Cindy Bass, Jamie Gauthier, Kenyatta Johnson, Curtis Jones Jr., Isaiah Thomas, Rue Landau, Nicolas O’Rourke and Jeffery Jay Jr. also signed the pledge on Thursday. Councilmember Kendra Brooks did not sign in person but has expressed her support, and is the prime sponsor of the expected anti-retaliation legislation.

  • January 25, 2024
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