More than 75 Philadelphia residents gathered outside Pat Toomey’s Center City office on Thursday, with one question for their Senator: Where are the jobs?
Northeast Philadelphian Edgar Aponte called on the Senator to maintain his campaign promise to create good jobs instead of putting CEOs and Wall Street bankers ahead of the rest of us. “Senator Toomey, we would like your help. You were elected to office in order to help us. Where is the help for the working class and the middle class?”
Hoping to avoid public scrutiny of his anti-jobs voting record – and his insistence on focusing on the deficit rather than on getting this country back to work – Pat Toomey hasn‘t held a single open forum to give his constituents an opportunity to make their voices heard. So we brought the voices of the unemployed to Senator Toomey.
We were joined by the Toomey Watch – a group of unemployed folks who have been travelling the state throughout August to urge Pat Toomey to hold a town hall and address the jobs crisis.
“If he won’t come to us, then we have to go to him. We have to make our voices heard. He is supposed to be the Senator of all people, but it seems like he is only worried about corporations, millionaires and billionaires,” said Dan Haney, a member of the Toomey Watch brigade. “We need jobs, and not tax breaks for the wealthy.”
Even though Toomey did not come downstairs to greet our crowd, there’s no question our chants of “Jobs not Cuts!” were heard loud and clear. After a long while of waiting for him or his staff to acknowledge us, a representative from his office accepted a special delivery: nearly one hundred messages from Philadephians demanding good jobs that can support a family.
UPDATE (8/30/11): You can now watch video of the event here:
On the campaign trail, Senator Pat Toomey promised to create jobs. But after nearly a year in office, it’s become clear that the multimillion-dollar investment banker is still working for Wall Street – not us. Despite his promises, there’s no end to the jobs crisis in sight, and many of us are hurting because of it.
Add your name and show Senator Toomey that the residents of Philadelphia are coming together to demand good jobs that can support a family:
Instead of passing bills that would invest in creating quality jobs for the middle class, Pat Toomey is giving away tax breaks to millionaires – like himself – and helping corporations that ship our jobs overseas.
It’s time for Toomey to listen up. All month, unemployed Pennsylvanians have been putting pressure on Toomey to meet with us.
And this Thursday at 4 PM, we’re going to his office at 16th and JFK to demand that he stick to his promise to create jobs. We’ll be delivering your words and stories to him.
Tell Pat Toomey that Philly deserves good jobs now:
“This is not just about cleaning up in front of your door, but about enriching the entire community. It’s about being an active part of the community, not just looking on from your windows,” said Derrick Elliott, who organized the clean-up on his block, in the Southwest neighborhood in which he grew up. Derrick said a lot has changed since he was a kid living there, noting the number of abandoned homes that surrounds him.
Due to budget cuts that have been chipping away at various city services that used to take care of things such as the collection of curbside leaf piles, bulk trash and tires, many residents have noticed that their blocks and neighborhoods have become increasingly unmanageable.
Kirk Smith also put on his working gloves that morning. “Being a new resident of Philly, it’s good to see the people of the community pulling together. It makes me appreciate that I made the right move,” he said while making his way down the block pulling weeds.
While it was certainly refreshing for community members to come together and do their share to keep their neighborhoods clean and safe, a few questions remained on the minds of the participants from the South to the Northeast:
Why aren’t our corporate neighbors also pitching in?
Why aren’t our elected leaders demanding that big banks and corporations ante up so that these services can be restored?
“We’ve been calling the city to come out and help us, but they won’t. Fight for Philly is fighting for me, so I want to help however I can to make things right for my neighbors and me,” said Cherrie Paxton, who was hard at work cleaning her West Philly alley.
During the clean-ups, more than one hundred people signed a letter to their respective City Councilors, calling on them to “hold the corporations that operate in our city accountable to paying their fair share of taxes, like we do … and to restore, provide and continue to provide trash services in our neighborhoods.”
“Philly, Philly, can’t you see what Hershey’s done to me?”
On Friday, Fight for Philly marched with the international student workers who made national headlines by holding a factory sit-in at the Hershey’s Chocolate Company packing plant in central Pennsylvania.
The students paid $3,000-6,000 each to come to America this summer for what they thought would be a cultural exchange program. Instead, they found themselves in a situation that’s more bitter than sweet: packing chocolates at the Hershey’s plant in deeply exploitative conditions. Hershey claims it doesn’t employ these kids, but they certainly have the ability to make the company who does treat them fairly.
We started the day at 6th and Market streets, where Fight for Philly members and supporters of the students chanted and sang together. Fight for Philly organizer Aaron Troisi introduced the students, who told us some of their personal stories about working long hours of manual labor and how they’re not getting the “cultural exchange” that they came here for.
The group then spontaneously began marching along side the building that holds the Liberty Bell – a significant symbol for Fight for Philly – past Independence Hall, and back again.
Watch the video here:
The word is spreading about Fight for Philly and our mission. Just this past Saturday, the Philadephia Inquirer ran a story about our march. You can read it here.
Something’s pretty trashy around here in Philadelphia – and it just so happens to be our streets.
We used to be able to depend on basic services like trash pick-up, but since the Great Recession hit, the city has stopped the collection of curbside bulk trash, tires, and leaf piles. So there they sit, in our alleyways and on our sidewalks, just waiting for someone to pick them up. But who will do it?
We shouldn’t have to do this – but we will. After all, our biggest banks and corporations bring in enormous profits, but don’t pay their fair share in taxes. If our corporate neighbors pitched in the way that we all do, we’d have plenty of resources to keep our neighborhoods clean and safe.
But we love our neighborhoods, and we love Philadelphia too much to see it continue like this.
Come out on Saturday. Let’s send a message that Philadelphians are doing their part – and the companies that call Philadelphia home should be doing the same.
Yesterday, hundreds of international student workers held a factory sit-in at the Hershey’s Chocolate Company packing plant in central Pennsylvania. Their demands: end the exploitation of student workers at the Hershey’s plant, return the money they paid for the cultural exchange and follow fair wage and labor standards for all workers. They were joined by local unemployed workers and labor leaders in a call to end these unscrupulous labor practices.
The students paid $3,000-6,000 each to come to America this summer for what they thought would be a cultural exchange program. They understood participating in the J-1 visa Summer Work Travel program would give them the opportunity to practice their English, learn about life in the US and earn some money. Instead, they found themselves packing chocolates at the Hershey’s plant in deeply exploitative conditions.
Watch them tell their story here:
This is yet another example of a greedy corporation taking advantage of cheap (in this case, immigrant) labor for the sake of higher profit margins. Hershey abused these workers and this program to avoid paying decent wages – which is bad for U.S. workers and bad for the nation’s economy because it drives down wages for all workers.
As of now, the students plan to stay on strike until their demands are met. Stand with these brave student workers and the local workers they’re fighting for! Join us at 2 PM on Friday, August 19 for an informational picket at the intersection of 6th and Market. We’ll be talking with the public about how Hershey is taking advantage of these student guestworkers.
Can’t come out on Friday? Here are a few other ways you can show your support for these students – and all workers:
Contact Hershey’s CEO John Bilbrey at 717.534.4200 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell him you want dignity for student workers and ask that he follow fair wage and labor standards for all workers.