July 2012

Workers Rally to Raise the Minimum Wage

Low wage workers from across the city gathered outside the Liberty Bell for a rally to raise the minimum wage.  Fight for Philly, Restaurant Opportunity Center of Philadelphia (ROC) and a host of other community, faith and labor groups came together to organize this demonstration as part of a National Day of Action to Raise the Minimum Wage.

The minimum wage has remained stagnant for 3 years and workers are now calling on our elected officials to raise the current minimum wage.  The federal minimum wage stands at $7.25, and yesterday marked the third year since it was last raised. The federal tipped minimum wage continues to be atrociously low at $2.13 an hour, and has not gone up in more than twenty years.

Victoria Burton, a waitress and member of ROC kicked off the rally as she spoke in front of a large crowd of 200, “I have worked for cash tips for over 18 years, making 20 to 60 dollars a shift…I served food to families for a living, but had to use food stamps to help feed myself and my family.”

Another speaker, Charles Stecker, a security officer, spoke about his woes, growing up in poverty and as an adult, trying to take care of his family on minimum wage. He urged our elected officials to raise the minimum wage and narrow the income inequality gap between the 1% and 99%.

After Victoria’s and Charles energizing speech, the march roared up Market Street towards the Gallery Mall East, holding signs that read “99% need a raise!” and “$7.25 is not enough”. Protestors took a minor detour into the Gallery Mall, while chanting “We can’t survive on $7.25!” catching the attention of many mall employees.  The march concluded in front of the Burlington Coat factory on 11th and market.

Mike Stuart, an Assistant Manager with Guitar Center, explained “I‘ve been at Guitar Center for 5 years now and I have not gotten one raise.  I once asked for a raise, and they told me “We don’t do that kind of thing here.”  So, here I am, an assistant manager getting paid 7.25.”

Andre Butler of the Philadelphia Unemployment Project wrapped up the rally by speaking about his trials and tribulations as a low wage caterer. He recalled working in hot and humid weather while being dressed in all black. He explained how difficult it was to work in such difficult conditions, while earning minimum wage.

Additionally, elected officials, labor leaders, pastors and other low wage workers also spoke out about the need to raise the wage.

The bottom line is that people who work for a living put their money right back into our economy.  $7.25 an hour, the federal minimum wage, amounts to only $15,080 a year. That’s more than $7,000 below the federal poverty line for a family of four. People who work for a living should be able to support their families and live off their wages.

Take a look at the pictures from the Raise the Wage Rally in case you missed it!

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Media Advisory for Tuesday, July 24 at 4:00pm

Media Advisory for Tuesday, July 24 at 4:00pm

Contact: Umang Patel, 267-254-7968 or umang@fightforphilly.org

Follow along @fightforphilly, #RaisetheWage

Low Wage Workers Join Call to Raise the Federal Minimum Wage

Activists to march from Independence Mall to the Gallery Mall at Market East, calling for an economy that works for everyone

Philadelphia – As part of a major national day of action, hundreds of low wage workers and their supporters will protest in front of Bain Capital-owned Burlington Coat Factory and other corporate suppliers of poor quality jobs on Tuesday calling for a raise in the federal minimum wage.

Home to a number of large retail stores and fast food chains, the march from Independence Mall to the Gallery Mall at Market East is littered with big corporations paying poverty wages to the workers who make them profitable.  Burlington Coat Factory – and other low wage Bain Capital-owned companies like Dunkin Donuts – is a symbol of the 1% economy in which taxes are dodged, jobs are outsourced and wages are driven down in order to maximize corporate profits and CEO bonuses.

The federal minimum wage stands at $7.25, and Tuesday marks the third year since it was last raised.  The federal tipped minimum wage continues to be atrociously low at $2.13 an hour, and has not gone up in more than twenty years. Wealthy corporations can afford to give working people a raise.  According to a new report by the National Employment Law Project, the vast majority of low wage and minimum wage workers are not employed by small businesses, but large, profitable corporations.  Over the past five years, the top 50 low-wage employers in the U.S. returned more than $174 billion to shareholders, while the top-paid executives at those companies were given an average of $9.4 million a year.

WHAT: Hundreds of protestors calling for a raise in the minimum wage

WHEN: Tuesday, July 24th at 4:00pm

WHERE: March from Independence Mall, 5th and Market to the Gallery Mall at Market East, 11th and Market

VISUALS: Activists with signs, banners and noise makers

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Hundreds March Through Center City for Corporate Accountability

Press Release for Monday, July 2, 2012 at 5:00pm

Contact: Umang Patel, 267-254-7698 or umang@fightforphilly.org

Philadelphia – Today over a hundred Philadelphians gathered for a march demanding corporate accountability from elected officials and major companies.

The march was bookended by protests at Verizon and Comcast – two major job outsourcers.  The Communications Workers of America (CWA), who have been battling with Verizon for a contract for twelve months, led the charge in front a Verizon Wireless retail store on 12th and Market. CWA members hoisted signs that read “Verizon Workers 99%” and the salaries of Verizon executives.

While taking the street in front of Senator Toomey’s office, protestors demanded that support the Bring Jobs Home Act, rather than focusing on tax loopholes and tax breaks for big corporations that offshore American jobs.  The “Bring Jobs Home Act,” introduced by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) will curb tax giveaways to companies that send jobs overseas and provide tax incentives for businesses that bring jobs home.

Anne Gemmell, Political Director of Fight for Philly, said in front of the Senator’s office. “The 99% is under attack. In the midst of tough economic times, when lawmakers should be working together to create quality jobs and find a way out of our country’s deepening recession, Republicans in congress – like Senator Toomey – are focused on the wrong priorities.” She went on further to say, “They are focused on protecting tax loopholes and big bonuses for big corporations that send American jobs overseas.  Meanwhile, working families are desperate for jobs and falling further and further behind.”

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Hundreds to Call on Senator Toomey to Support the Bring Jobs Home Act

Philadelphia – Today, hundreds of workers, students, faith leaders, families and members of community organizations will join Fight for Philly to call on Senator Toomey to Support the Bring Jobs Home Act.

The “Bring Jobs Home Act” will curb tax giveaways to companies that send jobs overseas and provide tax incentives for businesses that bring jobs home. Protesters will demand that the Senator stop focusing on protecting tax loopholes and big bonuses for big corporations that send American jobs overseas, and instead stand with working families that are desperate for jobs and falling further and further behind.

In addition to rallying in front of Senator Toomey’s office, the march will include stops at Verizon and Comcast – two major outsourcers. For example, at least 2,600 Verizon DSL Support call center jobs are located in Mexico, India, Canada and the Philippines. Comcast outsources a large portion of its customer service call centers to a firm that operates call centers both overseas and in the US.

The Bring Jobs Home Act will end a tax deduction for companies like Comcast and Verizon that outsource jobs and business activity.

What: March on Verizon and Comcast

When: Monday, July 2, 2012 at 5:00pm

Where: March from 12th and Market to Senator Toomey’s office at 16th and JFK Blvd., and ends at the Comcast plaza

Who: Hundreds of community leaders and members, union members, Occupy Philly and the Occupy National Gathering

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