October 2012

Election Day is November 6! Are you ready?

It’s here! Have you planned exactly when you can make time to go vote? Polls are open from 7am-8pm. Do you know where your polling place is? In Philadelphia, check Committee of Seventy’s guide here to find where you go to vote.

Come canvass with Fight for Philly! If you want to be part of this crucial day of democratic action, email us to get involved.

And don’t forget: You do not need to show ID to vote! You may be asked for ID, but right now ID is not required to vote.

The exception is people voting for the first time ever and people voting for the first time in a new division. If this is you, you must present photo or non-photo identification:

PennDOT IDs (drivers or non-drivers)
ID issued by US Government
ID issued by any Commonwealth Agency
US Passport
US Armed Forces ID
Student ID
Employee ID

Approved non-photo ID:
Voter Registration card
Non-Photo ID issued by the US Government
Non-Photo ID issued by any Commonwealth Agency
Firearm Permit
Current Bank Statement
Current Utility Bill
Current paycheck
Government check

The deadline for requesting an absentee ballot is 5:00 on Tuesday Oct. 30th. Absentee ballots received by the close of polls on election day will be counted for the offices of president and vice-president. A downloadable application for an absentee ballot is available at www.votespa.com, or call 412-350-4520. You can confirm your voter registration on this website as well.

You can still vote:
• if you have a felony conviction on your record.
• if you are on probation or parole after a felony conviction.
• if you are under house arrest or waiting for trial.
• if you are in jail for a misdemeanor or lesser offense, you can still vote by absentee ballot.

So join your friends and neighbors November 6 and get out the vote!

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Protestors Rally to Save Medicaid in Harrisburg

On Wednesday, activists from across the state gathered in Harrisburg for the “My Medicaid Matters” rally. ADAPT, a disability rights group, and other activist groups called out Governor Corbett for cutting funding for Pennsylvania’s Medicaid home and community based services and implementing sweeping changes to the state’s infrastructure for providing home and community based long term services and supports.

The rally was capped off by a march from the Capital Building to Mitt Romney’s campaign headquarters in downtown Harrisburg. Romney’s proposed budget plan would cut funds to Medicare and Medicaid, leaving many people without a life-line. Individuals in wheelchairs made their way into Romney’s campaign offices, at one point blocking the main entrance of the building. The rally was part of a large national day of action that was happening throughout the country.

Check out the other demands from  ADAPT

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Telling Council: Paid Sick Leave is A Must!

Yesterday, Fight for Philly joined the Restaurant Opportunities Center, Working America, PathWays PA, and restaurant workers from here in the city to talk to City Council members about the importance of passing a bill mandating employers provide paid sick leave to workers.  Restaurant workers know better than anyone how bad it can be to go to work sick, but we all know how important it is to be able to take care of ourselves when we’re sick without  having to lose pay.

Restaurant worker Kelly talked to Council staffers about the challenges of making a living when any illness could mean having to choose between work and staying home to get better.  Recently, she broke an arm, forcing her to miss weeks of work without pay while she recovers.

Workers Chris, Emma, and Kate also talked about their challenges and how important guaranteed paid sick time is. Guaranteed paid sick leave means workers don’t have to choose between getting paid and taking care of themselves or loved ones.

In addition to information on the Paid Sick Leave bill, we presented Council staff some info from the Restaurant Opportunities Center’s recent report, “Behind the Kitchen Door” (which you can find here).

According to the report:
Employment conditions in the restaurant industry place workers in a position in which they feel compelled to work while sick and place consumers and co-workers at risk of contagion. Given the low wages described earlier and the fact that 12 in 13 workers do not have access to paid sick days, it is not surprising that nearly two-thirds of Philadelphia restaurant workers (64.6%) have worked while sick. Nearly three out of four (71.7%) of those that worked while sick said that they could not afford to take the day off without pay, and almost half (46.4%) said that they were afraid of being fired or penalized for staying home. When restaurant workers are compelled to work sick, consumers are also placed at risk. Over two out of five workers that worked while sick (42.3%) said that they have coughed or sneezed while handling food. Moreover, restaurant workers who work while sick get other restaurant workers sick, who then are faced with the same decision of working sick or losing needed income. A third of workers who worked sick (33.4%) reported believing that they have gotten other workers sick. Furthermore, nearly all (94.3%) surveyed workers were not offered health insurance coverage by their employer, and half of our survey respondents reported having no coverage at all (49.6%). Workers reported that some of the consequences of preparing and handling food when sick were slower recovery and spreading illness to other workers and customers.

Click to enlarge this chart:

The Philadelphia Weekly wrote about our visit here.  See more photos here.

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Rev. Jesse Jackson in Philly!

This past weekend, The Reverend Jesse Jackson, founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, internationally recognized civil rights leader and veteran of two presidential primary campaigns visited Philadelphia for a speech, visits to churches, and a rally on Sunday. “The Rev” has been traveling state to state speaking to voters about the importance of voting this upcoming election.

On Saturday night, Reverend Jackson gave a speech at the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists’ forum at the National Constitution Center, talking about the importance of the vote and of poor and working people in the electorate.  “Most poor people are not on welfare, they work for a living! They work at airports and drive cabs. They deserve a living wage,” he said.  “The poor must organize! 50 million people living in poverty are the swing vote!”  Jackson went on to link the vote to his history with the Civil Rights Movement: “I hear people say ‘you should vote because others died for that right.’  Really, you should vote because you might live.”  We also heard from local community members, including Fight for Philly’s Rodnea.

On Sunday morning, Rev. Jackson found time to visit an amazing FIVE churches around the city, speaking to congregations.

Sunday afternoon, over 300 people came out to Malcolm X Park in West Philly to hear Rev. Jackson address our “Get Out and Vote!” rally.  Philly hip hop and R&B group Common World kicked off the rally with a free concert as community members enjoyed barbecue from a local restaurant. After Common World rocked the crowd, we heard speeches from Fight for Philly members, John Jordan from the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP, radio personality Brother Marcus, Terrance Meacham from the Philadelphia Unemployment Project, and others.

Fight For Philly member Caesar talked about how he has never voted before but sees the importance now.

He’ll be joining all of us at the voting booth on November 6!

The Reverend took the stage and immediately had the attention of the crowd after saying his first words: “I assume we all gonna vote. We have enough sense to register and vote.  We need workers to wake up the sleeping. We need workers to change the minds of those who don’t get it.” He declared Nov. 6 “Dignity Day,” urging everyone to skip work, knock on doors and help neighbors get to the poll. Rev. Jackson also touched on other issues like gun control and poverty.  Thanks for speaking to our communities, Rev. Jackson!

Check out a great article on the rally in the Philadelphia Inquirer here.  Our whole photo album is here.

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The Bain Bus stopped here: pictures and video!

This week, the national Bain Worker Bus tour made its way to the City of Brotherly Love. The bus is traveling through swing states to warn voters of the dangers of a Romney Economy. Bain Capital is the private equity firm founded by Mitt Romney that embodies the soul of Romney Economics. Bain workers involved in the tour include current and former employees from Dunkin Donuts, Sensata, Burlington Coat Factory, Michaels, Outback Steakhouse, and other national chains, and they spoke about their experiences working for Bain-owned companies: low wages; few, if any, benefits; and precarious work situations.

The Bain Bus made stops at Dunkin’ Donuts branches in West Philadelphia and Center City. Fight for Philly and community members cheered for Bain workers who have been touring the country telling the true story of working for a Romney/Bain economy. The workers were greeted by Mr. 1%, a spoof character wearing a suit, an enormous American flag lapel pin, and a pig nose. Mr. 1% shouted “Let’s hear it for Bain Capital!” which was met with a shower of boos and hisses from the crowd. He  boasted about the excellence of Bain Capital and went on to say “I care about people! You see, I care about corporations! Because corporations are people, my friend.” Over 75 people listened as workers from Burlington Coat Factory, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Carrabba’s Italian Grill talked about their financial struggles.

Libya Wilson, a Dunkin Donuts worker from Pittsburgh, explained that she and her fiancé both work for Dunkin and struggle to get by. Both work so much for so little pay and rarely have time to spend with their children.

Detroit’s Darrin Little spoke about his experience working for Bain-owned restaurant Carrabba’s Italian Grill. Darrin told the crowd he has worked for the restaurant for almost 10 years and only makes $3 more per hour than when he started.

Shantees Jones from New York, who works for Burlington Coat Factory, is a single mom who can’t make ends meet on just $8/hr. Shantees wants to know if she’ll ever be able to save enough to take her kids to Disney World.

Boston Dunkin’ Donuts employee Simara Martinez told us of her struggles to take care of herself and support her mother on her meager wages.  On Tuesday, Richard Hooten from Houston talked about trying to get by on his wages from Burlington Coat Factory.

After the rally Tuesday, the Bain workers helped register people to vote on Pennsyvlania’s last day to register.  Thanks for your help!

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For Immediate Release: National Bain Worker Bus Tour to Visit Philadelphia Today

Media Advisory
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Contact: Jesse Kudler
(617) 974-3684, jesse@fightforphilly.org

National Bain Worker Bus Tour to Visit Philadelphia Today

Philadelphia – The national Bain Worker Bus tour will come to Philadelphia again today. The bus tour is traveling through swing states to warn voters of the dangers of a Romney Economy. Bain Capital is the private equity firm founded by Mitt Romney that embodies the soul of Romney Economics. Bain workers involved in the tour include current and former employees from Dunkin Donuts, Sensata, Burlington Coat Factory, Michaels, Outback Steakhouse, and other national chains, and they will speak on their experiences working for Bain-owned companies: low wages; few, if any, benefits; and precarious work situations.

On Tuesday, the bus will be at a center city Staples store at noon. Staples was started with capital from Bain, and Romney sat on its board for 15 years. Colorful street theater will have a Mitt Romney character arguing that his tenure at Bain was good for workers and would be good for America, but a group of protesters and former Bain workers will challenge him on this account of his record. On Monday, the bus stopped at a Dunkin’ Donuts branch at 55th and Chestnut at 2pm so West Philadelphia residents could hear how Bain burdened Dunkin’ with debt before cashing out for a huge profit that wasn’t shared with workers. Over 75 people listened as workers from Burlington Coat Factory, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Carrabba’s Italian Grill talked about their financial struggles.

Romney frequently points to his leadership of Bain as one of his key qualifications to be president, writing in an op-ed that “The lessons I learned over my 15 years at Bain Capital … would help me as president to fix our economy, create jobs and get things done in Washington.” But Bain workers know firsthand what a Romney-Bain Economy looks like: Enrich the 1% by taking over companies, siphoning profits, avoiding paying taxes, laying off workers and leaving crummy low-wage jobs for everyone else.

WHAT: National Bain Worker Bus tour comes to Philadelphia

WHO: Low-income workers at Bain-owned companies from around the country, local minimum wage workers, Fight for Philly, and community members

WHEN: Tuesday October 9 at noon

WHERE: Staples, 1500 Chestnut St.

VISUALS: Bain Worker Bus, Mitt Romney street theater with campaign props, former and current Bain workers speaking

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For Immediate Release: National Bain Bus Tour visits Philly

Media Advisory
For Immediate Release
Friday, October 5, 2012
Contact: Jesse Kudler

(617) 974-3684, jesse@fightforphilly.org

National Bain Worker Bus Tour to Visit Philadelphia Monday and Tuesday October 8-9, West Philadelphia and Center City 

Philadelphia – The national Bain Worker Bus tour will come to Philadelphia Monday and Tuesday.  The bus tour is traveling through swing states to warn voters of the dangers of a Romney Economy.  Bain Capital is the private equity firm founded by Mitt Romney that embodies the soul of Romney Economics. Bain workers involved in the tour include current and former employees from Dunkin Donuts, Sensata, Burlington Coat Factory, Michaels, Outback Steakhouse, and other national chains, and they will speak on their experiences working for Bain-owned companies: low wages; few, if any, benefits; and precarious work situations.

On Monday, the bus will stop at a Dunkin’ Donuts branch at 55th and Chestnut at 2pm so West Philadelphia residents can hear how Bain burdened Dunkin’ with debt before cashing out for a huge profit that wasn’t shared with workers.  On Tuesday, the bus will be at a center city Staples store at noon.  Staples was started with capital from Bain, and Romney sat on its board for 15 years.  At both locations, colorful street theater will have a Mitt Romney character arguing that his tenure at Bain was good for workers and would be good for America, but a group of protesters and former Bain workers will challenge him on this account of his record.

Romney frequently points to his leadership of Bain as one of his key qualifications to be president, writing in an op-ed that “The lessons I learned over my 15 years at Bain Capital … would help me as president to fix our economy, create jobs and get things done in Washington.”  But Bain workers know firsthand what a Romney-Bain Economy looks like: Enrich the 1% by taking over companies, siphoning profits, avoiding paying taxes, laying off workers and  leaving crummy low-wage jobs for everyone else.

WHAT: National Bain Worker Bus tour comes to Philadelphia

WHO: Low-income workers at Bain-owned companies from around the country, local minimum wage workers, Fight for Philly, and community members

WHEN: Monday October 8 and 2pm and Tuesday October 9 at noon

WHERE: Monday: Dunkin Donuts, 5506 Chestnut St., Tuesday: Staples, 1500 Chestnut St.

VISUALS: Bain Worker Bus, Mitt Romney street theater with campaign props, former and current Bain workers speaking

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Sweet Victory! PA Judge Issues Injuction Against Voter ID law. Register to vote now!

Victory! Yesterday, a Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Judge issued an injunction against the state’s Voter ID Law. Poll workers may still ask for an ID, but you can vote even without one. Thank you to everyone who helped stand up against this unjust law by signing petitions, coming to rallies, and spreading the word! The fight won’t be over until we’ve completely overturned the law for good, but it won’t be in full effect for the coming presidential election. All Pennsylvania voters will be able to cast a ballot that will be counted in this year’s election, whether or not they have a photo ID.

So what’s next?  Be sure to register to vote!  Tuesday, October 9th is the last day to register to vote in Pennsylvania, and we want to make sure you, your neighbors, your coworkers and your friends are ready for Election Day.

The deadline for registration is quickly approaching!  If you are not registered, take a few minutes now to register online. Click here.

Registering and voting are two of the most powerful things you can do as an American. Your voice will join Fight for Philly members and supporters on Nov. 6.

If you are registered, click here to check your registration status and to find out about different voter registration events going on throughout the country.

Since the beginning of 2011, extreme right-wing legislatures have introduced bills in 41 states to try to keep hardworking people from exercising their right to vote. Experts agree these laws would specifically disenfranchise lower-income people, seniors, youth and communities of color. The far right knows they will win if we don’t make our voices heard on Election Day.

We can’t let thousands of Philadelphians be robbed of their constitutional right to vote. We need to make sure every single vote is counted on Election Day.

In Philadelphia, Committee of Seventy is an excellent resource for any questions about voting, registration, or polling places.

[photo: Rally against Voter ID on September 13,  2012]

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Help protect the right to vote!

The right wing is worried it can’t win elections fair and square. So it has been trying to make it harder for people to vote, especially the poor and minorities. The extreme right-wing private business group “bill mill” ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council) has helped write and pass bills in 41 states that would disenfranchise and suppress voters by adding hurdles to the voting process. Here’s just one example of how this creates difficulties for those wanting to exercise their rights:

Here in Philadelphia, there are corporations in our very own backyard that are supporting ALEC and furthering their 1% agenda. Comcast, a major financial player in this city, is a dues-paying member of ALEC and has refused to cut ties with the organization. Over forty corporations have publicly broken with ALEC, so why hasn’t Comcast? Comcast continues to pour money into an organization that supports only right-wing interests instead of putting money back into the people and city that supports them with outrageous cable bills.

Here is why Voter ID is bad for Philadelphia:

  • Voter ID disenfranchises disabled, low-income, elderly, people-of-color, and student voters.
  • Voter ID would make Philadelphians who have no driver’s license, or who have had it suspended, unable to vote.
  • Voter ID will discourage or prevent Philadelphians from exercising their right to vote.

Today, we’re waiting to hear if a judge will strike down Pennsylvania’s discriminatory voter ID law in part or in full.

Comcast needs to know that their relationship with ALEC is bad corporate citizenship and we can longer stand for it.  Comcast needs to dump ALEC, now! We can’t let thousands of Philly voters be robbed of their constitutional right to vote.

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