'Fair Workweek' bill passes in Philadelphia

Philadelphia, the poorest big city in the United States, passed legislation that will ensure fast-food, retail and hospitality workers will know when they'll work and how much they'll work.

Philadelphia Councilwoman Helen Gym introduced and championed the measure approved Thursday, which will affect about 130,000 hourly workers.

"We can talk about poverty, or we can do something about it. We choose to do something," Gym said. "This is a win for our city, for Philadelphia's working people, and for smart business practices."

Workers say that without predictable schedules, they can't budget or make plans like doctor's appointments, and it keeps them in a cycle of poverty.

"A fair workweek will change my life," said Lekesha Wheelings, a Marriott hotel worker. She said she gets her schedule with only 48 hours' notice, and says occupancy at her hotel has gone up, but she made $5,000 less in 2017 than the year before because of reduced hours.

"I love my job and I know that I have to do this to take care of my family, but I've made a lot of sacrifices," she said.

The bill includes provisions for advance notice of schedules, a path to more hours of work, compensation for last-minute schedule changes and protections from retaliation.

The bill wasn't without its opponents, among them the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The chamber of commerce said the bill would hurt business growth in a city that badly needs it. The visitors' bureau has said it would damage tourism, chains like Wendy's and Target, which expanded their presence in Philadelphia recently, and the Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association.

Philadelphia is now the second-biggest U.S. city, after New York, to approve a scheduling law.