Who’s in the “Broad Coalition” Against the Pay Equity Bill?

The Chamber of Commerce says 25 or so of its 4,000 member businesses have come forward, but they’re not willing to go public with their opposition.
Rob Wonderling. Image via Twitter.

Rob Wonderling. Image via Twitter.

It’s been a week since Comcast threatened the city with a lawsuit against the pay equity bill. And since the issue became public, Rob Wonderling, president and CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, and David L. Cohen, Comcast’s senior executive vice president, have claimed that scores of businesses have approached them in agreement that the bill would be harmful to businesses.

In an op-ed Wonderling published last week in the Philadelphia Business Journal, he wrote: “The business coalition opposing this Ordinance is broad and includes both large and small employers, for profit and not for profit.”

But how many businesses are actually in this “broad coalition”? Liz Ferry, the Chamber’s vice president of legislative affairs, and Yvette Nuñez, the Chamber’s vice president of civic affairs, told Philadelphia magazine that only 25 or so businesses so have come forward to contest the bill. That’s 25 of the Chamber’s 4,000 member businesses. And because the businesses don’t want to go on record, Ferry and Nuñez could not share any names. Right now, it’s unclear whether these coalition members will remain unnamed indefinitely, they said.

“We’re banging the drum really hard on this because this is how we serve our role as the Chamber,” Ferry said, adding that Chamber members have also been contacting their City Council representatives and Mayor Kenney’s office directly.

Councilman-at-Large Bill Greenlee told Philadelphia magazine on Tuesday that the city’s law department is doing the due diligence by looking at the memo Comcast put together. “I believe the mayor will sign the bill,” he said.

He also added that when Philadelphia was getting ready to pass its paid sick leave legislation, which became effective in 2015, he actually heard from members of the business community.

“We heard from people when we worked on that,” Greenlee said. “No one was saying, ‘I’m going to let the Chamber speak for me.’” Adding, “I’m not saying people aren’t people opposed to the bill — I just hope that they actually understand it.” In a hearing last week, Greenlee noted that there was misinformation about the bill. One business owner thought the legislation would completely inhibit him from any salary discussions with prospective employees.

Since meeting with Comcast and the Chamber last week, Greenlee says he hasn’t heard anything from those in opposition.

“They went from being blasé to completely nuclear,” said Greenlee. “It’s a little bizarre.”

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