2020 Spring Primary Election Endorsements
The Second Ward recommends voting YES on the first ballot question, which would amend the Home Rule Charter to create a Department of Labor which would protect Philadelphia’s workers, oversee labor relations with the City’s unionized workforce, and investigate compliance with worker protections in city contracts.
The Mayor’s Office of Labor, created by Mayor Kenney, currently performs many of these functions. Because this office was created by the Mayor, it could be eliminated by this or any future mayor. However, this referendum would enshrine the Department of Labor in the Home Rule Charter, making it permanent. The Second Ward has shown support for the pro-worker legislation that the Mayor and Council have worked to enact in recent years, including the domestic workers’ bill or rights, paid sick leave protections, and fair workweek scheduling. A permanent Department of Labor is necessary to give these provisions full force and effect.
The Second Ward recommends voting YES on the second ballot question, which asks whether the city should relax the ban on all political activity by city employees. Unlike most municipalities, Philadelphia currently bars employees from doing volunteer political work in their spare time for any partisan campaign at the federal, state, or city level. This change would allow city employees to work on federal campaigns and campaigns for certain state-level offices. State-level offices with districts in the city (like your State Senator or State Representative) would be off-limits, as well as all local races. Employees in politically sensitive offices such as the offices of the City Commissioners, District Attorney, Board of Ethics, Police Department, and Sheriff’s Department still would need to refrain from all political volunteering.
The Ward believes that the provision strikes the right balance between the need for strong anti-corruption regulations and the right of city employees to free expression. Philadelphia would still have one of the strongest municipal anti-corruption measures in the country, and the ban on political activity by employees in politically sensitive offices provides adequate protection against impropriety while still allowing many city employees participate in federal and state political campaigns.