The Ecuadorian constitution, since 2008, has stated: ”Nature or Pachamama, where life is reproduced and exists, has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution.” This bold statement galvanized the rights to nature movement across the globe. Its growing reach, along with a precedent-setting court decision earlier this winter, illustrate the power of invoking legalized rights in protecting endangered ecosystems. The importance of rights of nature is deeply rooted in Indigenous understandings of the interconnectedness of all life. In this century, the legal movement for protection has looped from the Navajo Nation through a small town in Pennsylvania, to Ecuador then across the world, returning to native communities of North America, and back to Ecuador.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - On September 19, workers filed a petition to organize a union among 276 workers at a Home Depot in northeast Philadelphia. If successful, the independent union would be the first at the home repair chain, the fifth-largest private employer in the U.S with 500,000 employees. Vince Quiles, who’s worked at the store for five years, says the union effort gathered over 100 signatures for an election in just five weeks. At the beginning of the pandemic, Quiles was promoted to supervisor in the plumbing department. Plumbing is the highest-volume section of the store, with around 6,000 sales per day, but the company did little to prepare him. “No training, no staff,” says Quiles. “They said, ‘You’re good with people, go figure it out.’”
Unionized workers at the Philadelphia Museum of Art began a one-day "unfair practices" strike Friday morning amid ongoing negotiations with museum leadership on their first collective bargaining agreement. The decision comes less than three weeks after AFSCME Local 397 members voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike and filed eight unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board, claiming that museum management engaged in union-busting practices during contract negotiations.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - Residents of the University City Townhomes and their supporters, determined to save their homes from destruction by property developers, have taken their fight directly to the movers and shakers behind most gentrification in Philadelphia. Over 100 residents and supporters converged on the University of Pennsylvania convocation for the incoming class of 2026, Aug. 29, shouting down President Liz Magill with chants of “Housing is a human right” and “Stop Penntrification.” Protesters then used the occasion to educate students about UPenn’s racist history in the destruction of a major Black Philadelphia neighborhood.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - The union representing 2,000 Philadelphia school bus drivers and maintenance workers authorized a strike Saturday if they don’t have a new contract by the end of the month. Hundreds of representatives of 32BJ SEIU District 1201 took to North Broad Street, chanting and clapping, after members voted overwhelmingly to strike if necessary. The vote does not mean a strike will definitely happen, though — union leaders will make that call. “What do we want? Contract! When do we want it? Now!” the union members said. 32BJ also represents the mechanics, bus attendants, building cleaners and engineers, and trades workers who support Philadelphia’s 215 schools and 114,000 students. Union officials say the two sides are split on matters of pay, safety, and training. Negotiations resume Tuesday.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - Monday morning’s abrupt dismantling of the protest encampment outside of West Philly’s University City Townhomes served as another reminder that Black lives still don’t matter. For the past year, residents from the affordable housing complex near the University of Pennsylvania have been fighting back against IBID Associates, who are putting the property up for sale. They have made their demands known — halting the sale and demolition of the homes, granting residents a two-year extension, a $500,000 financial compensation for each displaced family, and more. But for the predominately Black and brown families who’ve lived there for years, this means being displaced right into one of the most expensive housing markets in generations. While IBID is distributing housing vouchers to residents, many are claiming that the city’s ongoing gentrification crisis has made it harder for them to secure a decent alternative place to live.
Hundreds of years after they were forced from their ancestral home along the Delaware River, the Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania is still fighting for perhaps the most precious resource of all. Recognition. Pennsylvania does not officially recognize the Lenape Nation or any Native American tribe, a fact that strikes to the very core of Lenape Nation member Adam Waterbear DePaul. "The fight for recognition has been incredibly disappointing so far. Pennsylvania is the only commonwealth to never recognize indigenous people, and we are trying to change that," DePaul added. "Right now, we are taking steps to become state recognized. But it's hard to say how that will turn out." DePaul is bringing attention to the Lenape Nation's quest for official recognition and its longstanding commitment to the environment on the Rising Nation River Journey, during which members are paddling and hiking through and along the Delaware River, culminating with the Lower River treaty signing in West Cape May, New Jersey. The tour started in New York and made stops this weekend i
One of the main goals of our action planning was to build a cadre of folks willing to act fearlessly through nonviolent direct action (NVDA) in the face of the twin threats of climate catastrophe and corruption. We didn’t want our action to be a “one off.” Our vison was building a targeted campaign with clear goals – one that was persistent, always escalating. We also wanted to build the campaign across fights and attract people from across Pennsylvania. Recently, I had a conversation with George Lakey. George is an author of many books – including How We Win, activist of 6 decades, teacher, and an octogenarian with a wealth of experience in bringing about change. I asked George about our “brokenness.” Is it too late to do anything?
For months, 70 Black and Brown families have organized resistance to their threatened eviction by the Altman Company in Philadelphia. When supporters and residents set up a protest tent city on July 9, Altman got a judge to order what he called “trespassers” off his “private property.” The area labor movement galvanized with a strong response, pointing out that workers have little interest in cooperating with Altman to carry out the evictions. The Philadelphia Workers Solidarity Network and the Save the UC Townhomes Coalition first put out a petition with a plea to workers and union members: “Don’t cross our picket line,” if the city attempts to tear down the encampment. (tinyurl.com/2p9fhx5y) Over 400 workers, labor activists, union locals and housing activists have signed on.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - Teamsters Local 115 members at the University of Pennsylvania are celebrating a contract victory that eliminates two-tier pay for housekeepers, over the resistance of their own union officials. “In my 31 years here, this is the best contract I’ve seen,” said member Theresa Wible. “We haven’t seen raises like this since the ’80s, and I’ve never seen our union hall this packed.” The 550 campus Teamsters are mostly housekeepers, and 250 of them had been stuck on a permanent bottom tier. The five-year contract, ratified June 29, puts every Teamster at Ivy League UPenn on a progression to top pay. This year the first tier is making $25.12 an hour and the second tier is at $20.90, but by the end of the contract every housekeeper will get $28.68.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - Darlene Foreman, a 60-year-old Black woman and one of the UC Townhomes tenant representatives, told the assembled press on July 11: “This is a fight for the Townhomes but not only the Townhomes.” It’s for people “all over the country who are facing displacement.” Behind her were about 50 other residents and supporters holding signs or cell phones as she continued: “I will not be displaced. . . . Me, the residents here and people all over the country are sick of it. So, if this fight takes today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, the year after that, then we’re gonna be out here fighting!” In the background were about 15 tents, which were put up on the property’s green lawn after a “Protect the Block Party” July 9. Residents and housing activist supporters are taking turns staying overnight as part of the “We ain’t going nowhere” campaign, joining in the residents’ resistance.
Harrisburg, PA -Ten of us were arrested on Monday. We were arrested because, rather than hear the truth, our Legislature chose to arrest people. Monday began with a training at 10am - a healthy mix of the principles of nonviolent direct action and rehearsing the scenarios, and the first action team headed out of the church at 12:55pm, followed by the non-arrestable team at 1pm. The police recognized members of the first action team, but the team was able to get up to Senator Gene Yaw's office. 8 of us were arrested in Senator Yaw's office. We went in to demand that Senator Yaw resign from his second job - he's a lawyer at the McCormick Law Firm in Williamsport. What's the issue?
This pipeline project is slated to take natural gas liquids out of the US to overseas markets. Before reaching the Marcus Hook shipping port, the line traverses 350 miles of personal and public property, 1,227 stream crossings, 570 wetland crossings, and 11 pond crossings; 337 of these crossings disturb what DEP refers to as “special protection” waters. In addition, there are 129 exceptional value wetlands being crossed, including Marsh Creek Lake in Marsh Creek State Park, a drinking water source for 1.75 million people. “I decided to take direct action because I do not consent to our government allowing a serial offender that harms the waters of our local reservoir,” said Christine “PK” Digiulio.
Panther Valley is a poor, rural district with more than 1,600 students from Carbon and Schuylkill Counties. Its elementary, intermediate, and junior/senior high schools serve four Pennsylvania towns: Summit Hill, Coaldale, Lansford, and Nesquehoning. “It’s in the heart of what we used to refer to as the coal region of Pennsylvania,” said the district’s superintendent, David McAndrew. As the country moved away from coal mining, residents lost work. Now, jobs are hard to come by. Fifty-six percent of children in the district are classified as economically disadvantaged, though McAndrew believes the figure is closer to 70%. “We have very few businesses,” McAndrew said. “The businesses we have, unfortunately, seem to be leaving us.”
Workers at Allegheny Health Network affiliate Warren General Hospital voted Saturday to strike, straining already fragile medical resources in rural northwest Pennsylvania. The 114 nurses and health care workers, who are members of the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals, issued a 10-day strike notice at the 87-bed hospital — the only acute care facility in the county. The labor agreement with workers expired in September, and negotiations were scheduled to continue Monday, hospital CEO Rick Allen said. The hospital has offered pay increases of 4.2% to over 16%, plus enhanced contributions to employees’ 403(b) retirement plan to 7.12%, Mr. Allen said.