Philly City Council wants door open for mandatory retirement plans

Philadelphia City Councilwoman Cherelle Parker – from Philadelphia City Council's website

Philadelphia City Councilwoman Cherelle Parker – from Philadelphia City Council's website

Philadelphia City Councilwoman Cherelle Parker introduced a resolution today calling on the US Senate to maintain a Department of Labor rule that would pave the way for legislation that would mandate retirement plans be made available to all private sector workers in Philadelphia.

Since last year, Parker has been part of a retirement task force that has explored “auto-IRA” legislation – also being considered in Seattle and New York City – that requires a portion of a worker’s pay to be funneled into a retirement plan managed by a third party. 

This type of local legislation was enabled by an Obama-era DOL rule change that the Senate is now considering permanently reversing.

In a comment during today’s council session, Parker said it was incumbent on cities like Philadelphia to come up with local solutions to a growing retirement savings crisis.

“A solution coming from the federal government is something we would welcome,” she said. “But when the federal government does not act, cities like New York, cities like Seattle and our great city, view addressing the issue of retirement security as a neighborhood stabilization issue. We are not talking about people who are not working; we’re talking about private-sector workers.”

City Council is often frustrated with the lack of more far-reaching federal anti-poverty programs and labor protections. In addition to Parker’s comments today, the body has previously carved out local paid sick-leave legislation, established new hiring laws and is currently mulling a plan to offer paid family medical leave – often to the chagrin of the city’s business community.

The city GOP said this plan was just the cherry on top of council’s regulatory overreach.

“We have a situation where council is wasting time, energy and dollars on meaningless resolutions to another government body to further inject more government into the private sector,” said Philadelphia Republican chairman Joe DeFelice. “It’s typical City Council.”

In related news, the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce recently began hosting pre-session “meet-and-greets” with council members. The chamber’s legislative affairs director, Liz Ferry, said the meet-ups were partly inspired by the recent spate of press about the fraying relationship between the private sector and council.

“It’s just us going over there to introduce ourselves and let them know we’re here,” Ferry said. “We’re trying to do a better job having shared conversations on some of these issues.”


In other council business:

  • Councilwoman Cindy Bass won passage for a bill that requiring enhanced disclosure of residential lead hazards, like lead service lines.

Council President Darrell Clarke introduced legislation to re-zone a community center that was sold to a developer who wants to turn it into a gas station.