Philadelphia May Cut Subsidies to UPenn for Not Paying Minimum Wage

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks during a rally in front of the Capitol April 26, 2017 in Washington, DC. Activists and low-wage workers gathered on Capitol Hill to rally for a $15 minimum and rights to form unions. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Alex Wong/Getty Images

The prestigious University of Pennsylvania may lose $1.2 million in public subsidies from Philadelphia over its refusal to pay the city’s mandated $15.00 minimum wage to entry-level security staffers.

According to a report by the Daily Pennsylvanian, the University of Pennsylvania may lose a $1.2 million public subsidy from the city of Philadelphia over its refusal to pay the city’s mandated $15.00 minimum wage for institutions that receive public funding.

Partisans from all points of the political spectrum have criticized the University of Pennsylvania for taking public subsidies. The Ivy League institution has an endowment of almost $15 billion.

Entry-level security staff at the University of Pennsylvania earn $11.85 per hour. However, a city ordinance states that all institutions that receive public funding are required to pay a minimum wage of $15.00. Institutions that fail to meet this requirement risk losing the “nonprofit water discount,” a subsidy that pays off a portion of the institution’s water bill.

Deputy Communications Director for the Office of Mayor Lauren Cox confirmed rumors that the University of Pennsylvania was at risk of losing their subsidy.

“Notification letters were sent to several institutions this summer regarding the potential suspension of their nonprofit water discount if they did not come into compliance with the prevailing wage law,” Cox wrote. “Since then, the Mayor’s Office of Labor has been in conversation with those institutions, including the University of Pennsylvania, in an effort to bring them into compliance. Talks are still ongoing.”

Service Employees International Union 32BJ Vice President Gabe Morgan said that he would prefer it if the University of Pennsylvania kept its subsidy if it meant that security workers received the mandated wage.

“We’d rather see workers get what they’re supposed to get than see subsidies removed,” Morgan said in a short comment. “For us, it’s pretty unbelievable that these security officers who live in the communities around Penn have to ask for what the city law already says they get.”

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