PHILADELPHIA –  Mayor Jim Kenney today appointed Basil L. Merenda—a cross sector leader with four decades of experience across various governmental, labor and legal roles—as Director of Labor, effective January 3, 2023. In this role, as head of the City’s Department of Labor, Merenda will build and enhance partnerships between management and the labor organizations representing City employees and oversee matters related to the City’s Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and workplace anti-harassment policies. Merenda replaces former Deputy Mayor for Labor, Rich Lazer, who left the City last month.

“I’m pleased to appoint Basil L. Merenda to lead the City’s Department of Labor, an agency that our Administration was proud to create into a permanent City department in the Charter, reflecting the commitment to supporting our workforce that are critical to our city running efficiently,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “I have known Basil for decades, and he brings a broad background and extensive experience across various governmental, labor and legal positions that will be invaluable as he leads the team working to support the workers who power our city.”

Merenda comes to the City from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, where he served as Deputy Secretary for Safety and Labor Management Relations since December 2020 and previously served as Deputy General Counsel Governor’s Office of the General. In his role as Deputy Secretary, Merenda was responsible for administrating four bureaus of the Department of Labor and Industry, including the Mediation Bureau which provides mediation services for public sector collective bargain disputes, in the public school setting as well as police and fire contractual disputes.

“It is an honor to be named by Mayor Kenney to serve as Director of Labor, and I am thrilled that I can continue to implement the mayor’s very effective policies and help to secure his legacy of progressive labor reforms that support our workforce during a particularly challenging time as we continue to recover from the immense impacts of the pandemic on our workers,” said Basil L. Merenda.

Merenda also served as Deputy Commissioner for Code Enforcement at the City’s Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I) from July 2016 through July 2019. Previous to his service at the City, Merenda served the public in a variety of roles including Chief Deputy Attorney General and director of the Consumer Protection Bureau of the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office and Commissioner of the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs (BPOA) at the Pennsylvania Department of State as part of Governor Edward G. Rendell’s Administration. He was also appointed Secretary of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania by Governor Rendell in 2010, where he was responsible for the administration of the Department of State and its $101 million budget and 529 employees. Previously, he worked at the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, Antitrust and Financial Crimes Bureau, serving as Deputy Attorney General in the Division of Criminal Justice and began his legal career practicing  union labor law in Philadelphia and throughout the commonwealth of Pennsylvania also serving as legal counsel to the UFCW Local 1776.

Merenda holds Juris Doctor and undergraduate degrees from Villanova University, in addition to a master’s degree in Economics from the University of Notre Dame Graduate School.

The Department of Labor includes the Office of Employee Relations, the Office of Labor Relations, the Office of Worker Protections, the Office of Labor Standards, and the Living Wage Working Group.

As the City’s main point of contact for the labor community, the Department of Labor handles negotiations between City unions and City management; responds to unfair labor practice charges filed against the City; investigates complaints of sexual harassment and discrimination from any City employees, applicants, former employees, or members of the public; represent the City in union disputes; makes sure employers with City contracts pay prevailing wages; resolves minimum-wage waiver requests; and administers and enforces the City’s worker protection laws.

A headshot for Basil Merenda is available for download online.