Grass­roots in Philly: Advo­cat­ing the Fair Work­week with Madi­son Nardy

3 minute read
Nardy testifying at the Fair Workweek final passage City Council hearing in December 2018. (Photo courtesy of Madison Nardy).
Nardy testifying at the Fair Workweek final passage City Council hearing in December 2018. (Photo courtesy of Madison Nardy).

Madison Nardy was working as a beauty concierge at Target when a woman approached her and started asking her questions about her job.

The woman wanted to know what Nardy’s hours were like and how she liked her job. A few days later, Nardy had a one-on-one with another organizer and she learned about the Philadelphia Fair Workweek Campaign. That's when her political science career began.

Knowing your rights

According to the City of Philadelphia’s website, the Fair Workweek law in Philadelphia “requires covered employers to provide service, retail, and hospitality workers with a predictable work schedule” as well as “good faith estimates and 10 days advance notice of schedule, along with other protections.” The law also helps guarantee full-time hours.

From 2017 until the passage of the Fair Workweek law in December 2018, Nardy was responsible for approaching workers at places like Walmart, McDonald’s, and other retailers and asking them the same questions the organizer at Target asked her to gauge working conditions in Philadelphia.

Since then, she has risen through the ranks of One Pennsylvania—the organization involved with the Philadelphia Fair Workweek Campaign—from Worker Leader to Secretary of the Board of Directors. In March 2018, she traveled to Washington, D.C. to advocate for the passage of a National Fair Workweek, a bill introduced by Congressperson Rosa DeLauro and Senator Elizabeth Warren.

According to Nardy, the rights of workers are something she is extremely passionate about.

“People need full-time jobs that have benefits,” she said. “No one should have to struggle working more than one job.”

Nardy spoke about a time she had a conversation with a Philadelphia McDonald’s worker who said she would not know her schedule for Monday on Sunday night.

“That does not give people enough time to figure out healthcare or transportation, for example,” she said. “These things have always been issues (in retail). It’s engraved in our heads that this is the way life is when you work in retail, but it shouldn’t be like that.”

Nardy (far left) stands with a group that includes Congressperson Rosa DeLauro (centered). (Photo courtesy of Madison Nardy).
Nardy (far left) stands with a group that includes Congressperson Rosa DeLauro (centered). (Photo courtesy of Madison Nardy).

The bill doesn't stop here

The Fair Workweek law was enacted in Philadelphia in April 2020, and since then a committee has been formed to ensure that the law is being upheld.

Nardy’s other work with One Pennsylvania includes lobbying state legislators in Harrisburg to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, working to help ensure the Emergency Housing Protection Act was passed, and blocking the entrance of the Philadelphia Municipal Court Building so eviction hearings could not be heard during a pandemic.

Long-term, Nardy hopes to work in constituent services for a city council member, before eventually running herself. For now though, she wants to continue with her community organizing.

“I really love being hands-on with the community and dealing with their issues,” she said. “When I leave this earth, I would love to be remembered as a labor reformer, someone that has helped workers throughout the nation.”

Now, Nardy is serving as a Youth Action Board Fellow through Community Legal Services, an organization that provides free legal help to low-income Philadelphians. She is currently working towards a bachelor’s degree in Political Science at Temple University and is in the process of applying to a master’s program in public policy.

Get involved:

Those who are interested in getting involved with One Pennsylvania, a nonprofit organization that “unites low-income and working-class activists with the support of a broad coalition of community, labor, faith, and students’ organizations” can visit them online.

Image Description 1: Madison Nardy stands at a podium and microphone, reading from notes, with a few rows of people sitting behind her, in what looks like a city council meeting room.

Image Description 2: Nardy stands far left in a group of people posing for a photo. Some are wearing yellow shirts that read 'Respect.' In the center stands Congressperson Rosa DeLauro, who's also holding a small child. This also appears to be a city council meeting room.

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