July 2013

It’s way past time: raise the wage!

MW #2 - FFP Che and RosalineLast Wednesday marked a sad anniversary: four years without an increase in the federal minimum wage, which has remained stagnant at $7.25/hr. If the minimum wage had kept up with inflation since its peak in 1968, it would be $10.74 today. July 24th was also the 21st anniversary of the last increase in the tipped minimum wage, which would now be $6.45 if it had kept pace with inflation.  The current tipped minimum wage is a “whopping” $2.13.

As part of national day of action, members from Fight for Philly joined low-wage restaurant and airport workers, the Restaurant Opportunities Center Philadelphia, SEIU 32BJ, Philadelphia Unemployment Project, UFCW, Unitarian Universalist Pennsylvania Legislative Advocacy Network, PhilaPOSH, the Coalition of Labor Union Women, Jobs with Justice, the Jewish Labor Council, Democratic Socialists of America, AFSCME, UNITE-HERE, the Philadelphia council of the AFL-CIO, and others to demand an increase in the federal minimum wage.

Activists gathered at City Hall holding balloons and wearing party hats in “celebration” of the outdated federal minimum wage. The crowd of about 80 people chanted “Raise the wage!” and heard from tipped and minimum wage workers.

John Stewart, a wheelchair attendant at Philadelphia International Airport, talked about the struggle to get by on poverty wages: “I value my work and I like working with people. I like helping people. But I can barely pay my rent on the wages I make at the airport. I know that I am in the same boat as many of the restaurants workers that are here today. Our struggles are tied together. In fact, I used to work in a restaurant. I understand exactly what it’s like to survive on tips, whether I am pushing a wheelchair at the airport or waiting tables.”

Fight for Philly member Andre Butler told the crowd, “Anyone who has ever worked a minimum wage job understands how difficult it is to live on such low pay. Often, the only way to make ends meet is to have another job, and sometimes that’s not even enough. I was working towards my degree, but then my father fell ill, and I had to get a job to take care of him and my mother. There were times we had to skip rent to pay for my father’s medical expenses.”

After the rally, the crowd marched to Olive Garden, owned by Darden Restaurants.  Darden is the largest contributor to the National Restaurant Association and the largest full-service restaurant chain in the world.  Activists held a surprise birthday party for the minimum wage with cake, party hats, and horns, marking the last time the federal minimum wage was increased.  The group also called for Darden to pay its workers a living wage.   It’s time America’s minimum wage workers get a raise!


Activists demanding better jobs and wages for workers.

Check out more pictures and video from this event and others  at our Facebook page here!

 

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Rally at City Hall urges a raise for workers to lift economy as part of a national day of action

Media Advisory

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Jesse Kudler

617-974-3684, jesse@fightforphilly.org

 

Rally at City Hall urges a raise for workers to lift economy as part of a national day of action

On 4th anniversary of last federal minimum wage increase, activists will also feature surprise action at local minimum-wage employer

Philadelphia, PA – Fight for Philly will join low-wage restaurant and airport workers, the Restaurant Opportunities Center Philadelphia, SEIU 32BJ, Philadelphia Unemployment Project, Unitarian Universalist Pennsylvania Legislative Advocacy Network,  PhilaPOSH the Coalition of Labor Union Women, Jobs with Justice, the Jewish Labor Council, Democratic Socialists of America, AFSCME, UNITE-HERE, and others to demand an increase in the federal minimum wage on Wednesday, July 24th. The protest will be part of a nationwide day of action to raise wages on the fourth anniversary of the last federal minimum wage increase and the 21st anniversary of the last increase in the tipped wage.  Thousands of people will rally in 30 cities across the US.  Activists in Philadelphia will rally at City Hall at 1pm before proceeding to a nearby minimum-wage employer for a surprise dramatic action.

July 24th marks the fourth year that the federal minimum wage has remained stuck at $7.25 per hour, which translates to just $15,000 per year for a full-time worker. If the federal minimum wage had kept up with inflation since its peak in 1968, it would be $10.74 today.  July 24th is the 21st anniversary of the last increase in the tipped minimum wage, which would now be $6.45 if it had kept pace with inflation from its peak.

Speakers at City Hall will urge Congress to pass the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, which would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, boost the tipped minimum wage to 70% of the overall federal minimum wage, and index both to rise with the cost of living. Ralliers will also call on low-wage employers to act immediately to raise wages for their lowest-paid workers.  Restaurant workers and subcontracted employees at Philadelphia International Airport will talk about the struggles of trying to survive on minimum wage and having to rely on tips.  At 1:30, the group will move to a nearby low-wage employer to conduct a surprise action dramatizing the need for an increased minimum wage.

 

WHO: Fight for Philly , low-wage restaurant and airport workers, the Restaurant Opportunities Center Philadelphia, SEIU 32BJ, Philadelphia Unemployment Project, the Coalition of Labor Union Women, and others
WHAT: Rally for increased minimum wage and surprise minimum-wage action
WHEN: Wednesday, July 24, 1:00pm
WHERE: City Hall, Northeast Corner, proceeding to a nearby minimum wage employer at 1:30
VISUAL: Speakers, signs, diverse crowd of protesters, dramatic action at nearby employer

 

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Fight for Philly is building a grassroots coalition of residents, community groups, neighborhood associations, faith organizations and labor groups united in the fight for good jobs, corporate accountability and strong communities.

info@fightforphilly.org * (215) 232-3792 * http://fightforphilly.org

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Broad coalition of Philadelphians to protest Gov. Corbett at Philadelphia Young Republicans event

Media Advisory
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Jesse Kudler
617-974-3684, jesse@fightforphilly.org

 

Broad coalition of Philadelphians to protest Gov. Corbett at Philadelphia Young Republicans event

Fight for Philly joins PCAPS and others to call for education funding and government for the people 

Philadelphia, PA – Fight for Philly will join a number of other groups, activists, parents, and citizens to protest Governor Tom’s Corbett’s appearance in Philadelphia Tuesday night, July 23.  Activists will gather outside the Southampton Room in Northeast Philadelphia as Corbett appears for a Philadelphia Federation of Young Republicans event.   They will protest the Corbett administration’s utter abdication of its responsibility to educate the state’s youth.

Ralliers will call for Corbett to adequately fund education in Philadelphia and across the state.  Under a plan proposed by Philadelphia schools Superintendent Hite, the absolute least the state needed to provide for Philadelphia schools this year was $180 million.  Gov. Corbett and the GOP-led General Assembly found only $2 million in new dollars in their budget.

Twenty-four city public schools have been closed, and the School Reform Commission passed its  “doomsday” budget cutting funds for assistant principals, guidance counselors, athletics, music programs, paper, new books, librarians, secretaries, and more.   Almost 4,000 teachers and support staff have been laid off.  Since taking office, Corbett has cut hundreds of millions of dollars from education funding, even while refusing to adequately tax fracking, close “the Delaware loophole” or end business tax cuts.  

Ralliers will chant, hold signs, and give speeches demanding the governor fully fund public education and accept money to expand Medicaid.

 

WHO: Fight for Philly, PCAPS, ACT-UP, Action United, Youth United for Change, Philadelphia Unemployment Project, PA Health Access Network, Philadelphia Student Union, SEIU Healthcare PA, and others
WHAT: Protest against Gov. Corbett in Philadelphia
WHEN: Tuesday, July 23, 5:30pm
WHERE: The Southamptom Room, 2980 Southampton Rd. Philadelphia, PA 19154
VISUAL: Diverse crowd of protesters, red carpet, colorful signs, speeches

 

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Fight for Philly is building a grassroots coalition of residents, community groups, neighborhood associations, faith organizations and labor groups united in the fight for good jobs, corporate accountability and strong communities.

 

info@fightforphilly.org * (215) 232-3792 * http://fightforphilly.org

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Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools to demand City Council work to fund schools

Media Advisory

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Jesse Kudler

617-974-3684, jesse@fightforphilly.org

 

 

Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools to demand City Council work to fund schools

Press conference will feature parents, teachers, students, and supporters

The Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools (PCAPS) and others will hold a press conference at City Hall Tuesday at 3:30 to demand that City Council work to adequately fund public schools in Philadelphia.  Community members, students, teachers, and parents will speak out about the critical need for funding for schools before students return in only 54 days.
Philadelphia public schools are at a crisis point.  The School Reform Commission, after closing 24 city schools, has passed its “Doomsday Budget,” eliminating funding for arts, music, sports, guidance counselors, administrative assistants, and other programs.  Close to 4,000 teachers and staff have been laid off. The state General Assembly and the governor have not done their part, finding only a portion of the money needed to adequately fund our schools and refusing to give Philadelphia even the authority to create a new cigarette tax.  City Council failed to introduce reforms to Philadelphia’s Use and Occupancy tax that would have raised taxes on large properties after the huge breaks they’ll get under AVI.

The governor and corporate reformers like Comcast’s David Cohen want the school district to save money by forcing teachers and staff to make salary and benefit concessions.  But Philadelphia teachers are already paid 19 percent less than their counterparts in Bucks and Montgomery counties.  And large corporations like Comcast continue to benefit from the persistence of the Delaware loophole, low state business taxes, and AVI.  “Shared sacrifice” should mean that those most able should pay before teachers and staff give even more.

City Council is the last party left that can find funding for our school.  It’s up to City Council to make sure schools open in the fall that are more than warehouses for kids.

PCAPS is a coalition of students, parents, and teachers with an unwavering commitment to improving Philadelphia’s school system.  Members of the coalition include ACTION United, AFT Pennsylvania, Coalition of Labor Union Women, Fight for Philly, Jobs with Justice, Juntos, Media Mobilizing Project, Occupy Philly Labor Working Group, Philadelphia AFL-CIO, Philadelphians Allied for a Responsible Economy, Philadelphia Home and School Council, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, Philadelphia Student Union, SEIU 32BJ, UNITE HERE Philadelphia, and Youth United for Change.

 

WHO:

the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools

WHAT:

Press conference to demand Council funds schools

WHEN:

Tuesday, July 16, 3:30pm

WHERE:

NE corner of City Hall

VISUAL:

Colorful signs, podium with speakers, diverse crowd

 

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Fight for Philly is building a grassroots coalition of residents, community groups, neighborhood associations, faith organizations and labor groups united in the fight for good jobs, corporate accountability and strong communities.

 

info@fightforphilly.org * (215) 232-3792 * http://fightforphilly.org

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East Coast Airport Workers to Protest US Airways’ Contracted Shadow Economy at Shareholders Meeting

32BJ of SERVICE EMPLOYEES INTERNATIONAL UNION
MEDIA ADVISORY FOR:
Friday, July 12, 2013 at 9am
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Eugenio H. Villasante 646-285-1087
Michael O. Allen 212-388-3805

 

East Coast Airport Workers to Protest US Airways’ Contracted Shadow Economy at Shareholders Meeting

 

 Workers from MA, FL, NY, NJ and PA say that while the airline industry is now profitable, workers are not sharing in the prosperity

New York City – On Friday, July 12 at 9:00am: Low-wage airport workers and supporters from Boston, Philadelphia, Fort Lauderdale, Newark and New York City will rally Friday morning outside US Airways’ shareholders meeting to protest a business model that requires them to labor in a shadow economy with no job security, working for minimum wage, relying on tips and lacking basic benefits while the airlines’ top executives rake in millions of dollars.

US Airways’ shareholders are expected to cast the final vote to approve a $11 billion merger with American Airlines – effectively creating the world largest airline — but the airline still fails to address wage and working conditions for thousands of contracted security officers, cleaners and wheelchair attendants who struggle to get by. US Airways shareholders will also vote to approve a $86 million compensation package in 2012 compensation and merger-related contingency pay US Airways’ CEO and top executives, including a potential $19.8 million severance package for American Airlines CEO Tom Horton.

With wages as low as $4.77 an hour plus tips and with no health insurance, many airport workers can barely cover the basic needs of their families.

WHAT:  Passenger assistants, aircraft cleaners to demand just compensation as US Airways shareholders vote to approve a $11 billion merger with American Airlines and to approve tens of millions in compensation to a handful of top executives.
WHO: Terminals and aircraft cleaners, security officers,passenger assistants, Hector Figueroa, President of 32BJ SEIU
WHEN: Friday, July, 2013 at 9am
WHERE: 53rd Street and 3rd Avenue, Manhattan, NY

 With more than 125,000 members, SEIU 32BJ is the largest property services union in the country.

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Fight for Philly and allies demand Governor Corbett fund education and expand Medicaid

As state budget negotiations entered their final phase, Fight for Philly and allies traveled to Harrisburg on back-to-back days for a final push to demand Governor Corbett and the legislature fairly fund education and expand Medicaid.  With budget decisions looming and healthcare and education hanging in the balance, activists joined together to demand the state’s children and most vulnerable weren’t swept under the rug.

Ring Around the Capitol # 3On Tuesday, Fight for Philly joined the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Youth United for the Change (YUC), and the Philadelphia Student Union (PSU) for a rally on the Capitol steps for full, fair funding for education. Close to 2,000 people gathered for the rally, which called for Governor Corbett to adequately fund public schools in Philadelphia and across the state and to restore some of the $1 billion in state education funding he has cut.  Teachers, parents, students, and others all talked about the importance of good schools for our children.  Senator Vincent Hughes, a huge supporter of public school funding, gave a rousing speech demanding the governor put “children first and corporations last.” The rally concluded with activists joining hands around the Capitol building in a massive show of support for public school funding, forming a “ring around the capitol.”

The veryexpand medicaid next day, activists reconvened in Harrisburg to stage a “sick-in” at the Governor’s mansion. Members from SEIU Healthcare PA, The Philadelphia Unemployment Project, and Fight for Philly marched to the governor’s mansion to tell him, “Governor Corbett, You Make Us Sick!  We Demand to Expand.” Fight for Philly member Andre Butler, a 47 year old banquet server, spoke about the importance of having proper healthcare.  Although he works, he does not get health insurance through his employer, meaning he has put off necessary medical care.  He also went into debt to help his ailing father.  “Nobody should have to get in such financial trouble just to stay healthy and take care of his or her family,” Andre told the crowd.  “Medicaid expansion would give people the security of knowing they could take care of their medical needs early and prevent problems from getting worse, and it would keep people out of debt.” After Andre’s speech and testimony from others who would benefit from Medicaid expansion, the “sick-in” began.  Activists fell to the ground in “pain” to symbolize Governor Corbett “killing” them by refusing to expand Medicaid to a nearly a million people.

Medicaid expansion would cover as many as 700,000 Pennsylvanians who don’t have health insurance and is estimated by the state’s own non-partisan Independent Fiscal Office to improve the state budget situation by $800 million in the next two fiscal years.  It would also add 35,000-40,000 jobs in the next seven years. There is simply no good reason to turn it down.

After the rally, activists continued to the capitol building to lobby Republican and Democratic representatives to come together for a bi-partisan vote on Medicaid. A small group of heroes stayed behind as part of a plan to keep pressure on state legislators, camping out in the State Capitol from Wednesday to Sunday, lobbying lawmakers and refusing to leave until their voices were heard.  On Sunday, the PA Senate listened to them! Medicaid expansion passed the Senate with a 40-10 vote.

Even though the PA Senate voted strongly in favor of Medicaid expansion, it was stripped from the bill by the House of Representatives. Our fight still continues and we must keep the pressure on the governor and General Assembly. Please do your part and call Governor Corbett to demand he support medical insurance for hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians. Call his office at (717) 787-2500 and tell him there is simply no good reason not to accept federal funding to expand Medicaid.  We will not stop fighting until we cover the Commonwealth!

Check out more photos from these events  and others on our Facebook page. Don’t forget to like our page!

Here’s a video of folks camping out at the Capitol, and an interview with our member Andre Butler:

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