PHILADELPHIA – As Mayor Cherelle L. Parker disclosed today the Parker Administration’s plans to have all City employees return to full-time in-office or on-site work, effective July 15, 2024, a series of business, non-profit, labor, and community leaders voiced their support for the Mayor’s Return to Office policy.  Here are their views.

Leslie S. Richards, CEO and General Manager of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA): “SEPTA is committed to supporting City employees and Mayor Parker’s return to office initiative. Philadelphia – and SEPTA – are at their best when they are bustling with activity, and that means people traveling to work, running errands, going to restaurants, and taking in all that our great City has to offer. Thanks to the City’s participation in the SEPTA Key Advantage Program, City employees can now make all these trips on SEPTA for free. SEPTA has focused on making significant enhancements to safety, security, and service reliability to improve the customer experience, and we are excited to welcome more members of the City’s workforce back to our trains, buses, and trolleys.”

Dr. Joseph G. Cacchione, MD, CEO of Jefferson Health and Thomas Jefferson University: “We are grateful to our dedicated healthcare workers who have consistently worked in person from our facilities. With more workers returning to their offices, the increased volume of foot traffic and business activity in our urban core will improve public safety and enhance economic vitality. It also aligns with Jefferson’s significant investments downtown, including our newly opened Honickman Center.”

Ryan Boyer, Business Manager of the Philadelphia Building Trades: “I commend Mayor Parker for bringing city employees back to work. This is a huge step toward reinvigorating the city where many of our members work, live, and play. The added foot traffic will mean safer streets for everyone, including our membership.”

Gabe Morgan, Vice President and 32BJ PA/DE State Director of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU): “Mayor Parker is leading fairly and energetically in requiring the City workforce to return to in-office work,” said Gabe Morgan, President, SEIU Local 32BJ. “Our union men and women have been working on-site and on the job throughout this time of COVID, and we welcome City workers back. It’s the right thing for the City and SEIU32BJ supports the Mayor.”

William Sproule, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters (EASRCC): “Our Union Carpenters have been working on-site since the start of the pandemic through today – you can’t be a “remote” construction worker. We are part of a crew that includes City workers who have been coming in and making the City run. Mayor Parker is bold in her vision of returning to offices, and from those of us who are out here every day, I welcome the City workers back!”

Gerald H. Sweeney, President and CEO of Brandywine Realty Trust: “A great city thrives on the vibrancy of both its neighborhoods and workforce.  As such, we applaud Mayor Parker’s decision to have the city’s workforce return to in-person work across city government. For customer service, culture, brand-building, and personal career growth, there is no substitute for the personal collaboration that comes from working together in person.  Brandywine believes that workers returning to the workplace will make our commercial corridors and communities more vibrant and accessible for all the city’s stakeholders.”

Angela Val, President and CEO of VISIT Philadelphia: “Workers returning to the office means a more vibrant Center City and contributes to the buzz and energy that is part of the visitors’ experience. An increase in workers returning to the downtown core also helps keep the doors open and the lights on in the many small businesses that service both residents and visitors alike.”

Kevin J. Bethel, Commissioner of the Philadelphia Police Department: “I support Mayor Parker’s policy goal of returning to office work for all City employees. While PPD officers never experienced the shift to remote work, we understand the profound impact that a visible and vibrant city has on safety and community well-being. A bustling city is not only safer but also fosters a sense of connection and security among its residents. The PPD stands ready to welcome and assist our fellow coworkers as they return to the office in neighborhoods across the City.”

Prema Katari Gupta, President and CEO of the Center City District: “We are social animals. The benefit of being back in the office is the people, not the place. Mentorship, informal job training, community, convenience, collaboration, connections to people from different backgrounds happen most efficiently (and enjoyably!) in person.”

Paul Levy, Board Chair of the Center City District: “There are many things that office workers can do effectively with remote technology. But nothing replaces the benefits of face-to-face interaction – discussion, disagreement, reading body language, and reaching resolutions. Even more, the presence of all workers in offices downtown supports retail and restaurants and provides jobs for SEPTA workers, maintenance, and other support staff who keep buildings operating safely. Quite simply, remote work and inclusive growth are incompatible. Mayor Parker is making the right decision to support our city’s full recovery.”

Shalimar Thomas, Executive Director of the North Broad Renaissance: “The NBR recognizes the impact of having workers come back to Center City, which serves as the hub for Philadelphia’s economic growth. While hybrid options still work for some, we’ve seen the harsh impact hybrid options are having on Center City. This is a strategy that Mayor Parker is taking to move the economy in the right direction to fulfill her promise of economic opportunity for all.”

Zak Pyzik, Senior Director of Public Affairs for the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association: “Philadelphia’s center city restaurants and hotels, in many ways, thrive off of business and corporate travel and activity. As the Association that represents Pennsylvania’s hospitality and tourism industries, we applaud Mayor Parker’s initiative and efforts to bring back thousands of employees to City Hall and city offices. With a workforce of nearly 30,000 people, a return to more in-person business activity will undoubtedly have a positive impact on Philadelphia’s hospitality scene, promising newfound energy for Philadelphia’s economy and commerce.”

Benjamin J. Connors Esq., CAE, President and CEO of the General Building Contractors Association: “The construction industry is linked with the efficiency of City government. For the Mayor’s vision of a government you can see, touch, and feel to become a reality, we know from experience that this only happens if everyone is back full time, collaborating in-person.”

Chellie Cameron, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia: “At the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, our responsibility is to serve the business community. We consistently hear from our leaders and community members that the most valuable connections are forged when we come together face to face. Returning to the office to nurture those connections plays a critical role in helping businesses and professionals grow, supporting our small businesses and the commercial corridors, and creating a vibrant City and region.”

Regina A. Hairston, President and CEO of the African-American Chamber of Commerce, PA, NJ, DE: “Although some aspects of the working environment have shifted in recent years, the need for a bustling local economy remains the same. Our business owners, and their employees, have shown up day in and day out to provide essential goods and services. Their success not only provides increased opportunities to their communities but also provides the city with vital tax dollars to build a stronger, safer, and more prosperous Philadelphia. We cannot expect to grow our Black businesses across the city without the exposure and safety that come with increased foot traffic and broader participation. This is a welcome policy that shows that this administration is invested in building a thriving and equitable local economy, and we look forward to seeing our city employees back in person.”

Zach Wilcha, CEO of the Independence Business Alliance: “The Independence Business Alliance (IBA) works with the City of Philadelphia to make the area’s business landscape more equitable for diverse businesses and employees. We support policies with robust reasonable accommodations that will benefit these essential members of our business community.”

Tom Reid, Chief Legal Officer for the Comcast Corporation: “Team spirit and cohesion are served best when we gather together to be creative. We applaud Mayor Parker’s initiative to bring City workers back to their offices as she continues to deliver what Philadelphians need.”

David Oh, President and CEO of the Asian American Chamber of Commerce: “I support the Mayor’s plan to have city employees return to in-person work. Philadelphia city government must be fully open and staffed in order to provide the very best public service possible.”

Michael Schulson, Founder and CEO of the Schulson Collective: “In support of Mayor Parker, I recognize that the return to in-person work signifies more than just a physical transition. It represents a pivotal moment to reignite the essence of our company culture, to rekindle the vibrant energy of face-to-face collaboration, and to reaffirm our shared commitment to excellence. Embracing this transition is not merely a return to routine; it’s a collective journey towards renewed creativity, strengthened bonds, and amplified productivity.”

Jennifer I. Rodriguez, MCP, President and CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce: “As an organization dedicated to the success and advancement of Latino-owned businesses, we support the return-to-office for government workers. This policy is critical for several reasons that benefit our local economy and community well-being. Mayor Parker has committed to easing the burden of doing business in Philadelphia, and the presence of government employees in their offices enhances customer service for small business owners. Timely access to essential services such as permits, licenses, and other government functions is crucial for the smooth operation and growth of small businesses. Having more people in offices and commuting through our public transportation systems increases overall safety, a priority for small business owners. More populated areas tend to be safer, and increased activity helps deter crime, creating a secure environment for both business owners and their patrons. A return-to-office policy that incorporates flexibility and accommodations for workers can support the economic health, sustainability, and safety of our community, ensuring that our small businesses can thrive in a vibrant and well-serviced local economy.”