Northeast News

City voters to decide on proposed Department of Labor

City Council passed legislation sponsored by Councilwoman Helen Gym (D- at large) and Bobby Henon (D-6th dist.) that creates a permanent Department of Labor and Board of Labor Standards with expanded resources and staff and improved investigatory powers.

Councilman Bobby Henon

The department would enforce new and existing city labor laws, resolve disputes between workers and employers and issue fines and other penalties as deemed necessary. A key focus is overseeing all sexual harassment and discrimination complaints within city agencies. The law would change the Home Rule Charter, and voters will decide on the April 28 ballot.

The new Department of Labor would enforce a body of local labor laws, such as wage theft, Fair Workweek, prevailing wage and paid sick leave. That includes investigating complaints, enforcing penalties for violations and educating workers on their rights and employers on their responsibilities. Collective bargaining agreements of city employees would also be negotiated and administered by the department. It would be responsible for monitoring city contracts for compliance with labor laws, including wage and diversity requirements as well as analyzing workforce data to identify opportunities to improve working conditions and more effectively enforce protections.

“Workers have organized to push this city towards a future where the rights of all workers are protected in every workplace,” Gym said. “I’m proud to have sponsored Fair Workweek – one of the many bills that came out of this growing movement. But laws are only as good as our power to enforce them. With a Department of Labor, and the resources that go with it, Philadelphia will balance the scales between vulnerable workers and their employers.”

“This charter change will allow the city to oversee and ensure that the laws we already have on the books, like paid sick leave and Fair Workweek, are enforced and upheld,” Henon said. “A permanent Department of Labor that is given the resources and staff to succeed will tackle real issues that face working people, like the misclassification of workers, labor negotiations and the need for family and medical leave.” ••

Driscoll wants to protect park volunteers

State Rep. Mike Driscoll announced legislation that would prevent a volunteer park organization, such as Friends of Penny Park, from generally being held liable for volunteer public services, programs and projects.

“Our volunteer park organizations that so often organize the advocacy, care and enhancement of our community and public parks give back to the communities they serve in countless ways,” Driscoll said. “It is only right that these volunteer organizations are not open to liability for the volunteer public services and activities they provide, but there’s currently no law that protects them. That’s why I’ve introduced House Bill 2310, to ensure that our volunteer organizations are protected from liability that should never be placed on their shoulders to begin with. Volunteers should be rewarded not punished by lawsuits.”

Driscoll said the volunteer park organizations are often doing invaluable work that falls under the authority of local municipal or county governments, and that no matter how well organized an organization or effort is, there are always risks for accidents. His intention is to protect the volunteer park organizations that help their communities by eliminating the risk of liability to them. ••

Big honor for Jeanes

Temple University Hospital-Jeanes Campus has achieved the Healthgrades 2020 America’s 250 Best Hospitals Award.

The distinction places the hospital in the top 5 percent of nearly 4,500 hospitals assessed nationwide for clinical performance as measured by Healthgrades, a resource that connects consumers, physicians and health systems.

“We take pride in providing patients at Temple University Hospital–Jeanes Campus the best care possible – the advances and innovation of a leading academic medical center in a close-to-home, community hospital setting,” said Michael A. Young, president and CEO of Temple University Health System. “This recognition from Healthgrades is further proof of the skill and dedication of the entire team at our Jeanes campus.” ••