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Pennsylvania

Launch Of Pennsylvania ‘Uncommitted’ Vs. Biden

Pennsylvania organizers from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia and cities in between held a Zoom press conference April 3 to promote their write-in vote “Uncommitted” campaign for the April 23 Democratic Party primary for president. An “Uncommitted” vote demonstrates opposition to Genocide Joe Biden’s support for Israel. The goal of the campaign, endorsed by over 30 interfaith, multigenerational and multiracial groups across the state, is to turn out at least 40,000 people who vote “uncommitted.”

Activists Launch Own Investigation Of Mud Spill Near Gas Pipeline

On February 15, Pennsylvania’s environmental regulator received an anonymous complaint that a mysterious white material was covering the bottom of a creek in Chester County — a tributary of nearby Marsh Creek Lake located about a thousand feet from the underground Mariner East pipeline. A day later, an inspector from the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation confirmed that the clay-like material was flowing from a nearby sinkhole into the stream and nearby wetlands.

Central Pennsylvania ‘Sundown Towns’ And The Legacy Of Racism

Growing up in the 1960s, the Rev. Roger Dixon heard the warnings every time the William Penn High School football team was set to play Cedar Cliff. “The older men used to say ‘don’t get caught up there after the game. You might get into trouble. They might try to arrest you,’” recalls Dixon, who is Black and graduated from William Penn in 1966. Rafiyqa Muhammad tells of a similar experience growing up in Harrisburg. “Our parents always told us about certain areas,” she said. “Our father would tell us don’t go here, don’t go there. Do not go over to the West Shore. I remember we would drive in and drive out. There was no going over and hanging out.”

As States Limit Black History Lessons, Philly Gets It Right

The culture war in education that began in response to the protests that followed the murder of George Floyd in 2020 has had a chilling effect on how race is discussed in classrooms. Since January 2021, 44 states have introduced bills and at least 18 have passed laws restricting or banning the teaching of supposed critical race theory. Just 12 states (Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee and Washington) have Black history mandates for K-12 public schools. In addition, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine and Rhode Island have legislated Black history courses or electives during the last two years. But several of the 12 states have new laws on the books that limit their curriculum.

It’s Known As ‘Death By Incarceration’; People Want To End It

“My life is either going to be a testimony or a warning,” said Derek Lee. Lee was speaking on a video chat from behind the walls of SCI Smithfield in central Pennsylvania. Now 35 years old, Lee has been imprisoned since he was 29. If nothing changes, he will grow old and die in prison. In 2016, a Pennsylvania court sentenced Lee to life without parole for a burglary two years earlier that ended with his accomplice fatally shooting the homeowner. Lee was not involved in the killing, but he was convicted of second-degree or felony murder—an unintentional death that happens when the defendant is committing a felony. In Pennsylvania, that means an automatic sentence of life without parole (LWOP).

2023, A Year Of Progress: Expanding Voting Rights Across The Country

This year, thanks to the tireless efforts of dedicated advocates and organizations, we’re witnessing a remarkable shift in the political landscape when it comes to expanding and protecting the right to vote for justice-impacted people. Advocacy Based on Lived Experience (ABLE) – an organization dedicated to working to engage people in the democratic process – held several community events across Kentucky, allowing attendees and lawmakers to hold discussions on pertinent issues in their communities, regardless of their political affiliation. Participants frequently discussed state legislation that would restore the right to vote to over 160,000 Kentuckians who are disenfranchised due to their history with the criminal legal system.

Journalist Sues Over Gag Rules At County Jail In Pennsylvania

Journalist Brittany Hailer has sued a county jail in Pennsylvania for "strictly enforcing" gag rules against prisoners and the jail's employees and contractors. Hailer claims the rules allegedly violate her constitutional rights to "gather news and receive information from otherwise willing speakers." The lawsuit is believed to be a first-of-its-kind lawsuit brought by a journalist against such speech restrictions, and Hailer is represented by the Media Freedom and Information Access (MFIA) clinic at Yale Law School and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP).

EU Weans Itself From Russian Energy; US Pushes New LNG Export Plant

Chester, Pennsylvania — When Zulene Mayfield testifies next week against plans to build a $6.8 billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in her Pennsylvania hometown, she will be facing off against some of the most powerful fossil fuel interests in the United States. As co-founder of the community group Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living, Mayfield has spent years fighting to protect her majority Black and low-income city from the pollution spewed by the nearby Covanta waste-to-energy facility — the country’s largest waste incinerator. Now she finds herself pitted against a new confluence of forces — a lobbying effort by a fossil fuel complex stretching from her state’s Marcellus Shale gas fields to the boardrooms of European energy companies. 

Philadelphia Nonprofit Gives Latino Entrepreneurs The Boost They Need

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - When Juan Placencia opened a ghost kitchen in Philadelphia at the end of 2020, the experience wasn’t what he expected. Even with his impressive credentials — he is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of Arts and has experience in Michelin-starred restaurants and working with James Beard award-winner Christina Martinez — he struggled to make his take-out restaurant successful. “The investment in partaking in this type of system was much higher than a brick and mortar, but it wasn’t advertised that way,” he says. “Since then I began looking for a restaurant space.”

Nonprofit Hospitals Reap Big Tax Breaks; States Scrutinize Spending

Pottstown, Pennsylvania — The public school system here had to scramble in 2018 when the local hospital, newly purchased, was converted to a tax-exempt nonprofit entity. The takeover by Tower Health meant the 219-bed Pottstown Hospital no longer had to pay federal and state taxes. It also no longer had to pay local property taxes, taking away more than $900,000 a year from the already underfunded Pottstown School District, school officials said. The district, about an hour’s drive from Philadelphia, had no choice but to trim expenses. It cut teacher aide positions and eliminated middle school foreign language classes.

Organizing For Better Wages Across Sectors At Swarthmore College

Solidarity at Swat started after a Swarthmore College alum, John Braxton ‘70, spoke on campus at an event organized by members of Swarthmore’s Young Democratic Socialists of America and suggested that we find a material issue that unites people on campus. Staff wages were previously raised to a  $15 minimum, but student wages were not raised alongside this and remained quite low. We started advocating for a student-worker minimum wage of $15. At that time, we rhetorically showed support for staff wage increases and made the case that a raise in student wages would also induce an increase in staff wages.

Despite Legalization, Those Harmed The Most Are Not Able To Benefit

As media critics, we encourage people to write letters to the editor, noting that even if your letter doesn’t run, it may help another letter with a similar point get in. Because a paper that gets one letter may not feel obliged to represent that view, but if they get 20, they may figure they should run one. All of which is to say, the New York Times must have got a boatload of letters scoffing at columnist Ross Douthat’s sad sack May 17 piece about how legalizing marijuana is a big mistake, not least because his opposition to it is making people call him a “square.” Unsurprisingly, Douthat isn’t being a principled contrarian, just obfuscating.

Will Plant Workers Strike For The Right To Strike Over Grievances?

Erie, Pennsylvania - “What do you think of the company’s contract proposals?” asked a man at the head of a contingent of workers marching through the mile-long, mile-wide Wabtec locomotive factory. “F— you!” responded members of United Electrical Workers (UE) Local 506, their voices echoing off the walls. A few blocks down at Irish Cousins, the bar across from the union hall, one patron’s “How are you doing?” was answered by another with “Waiting on the word.” It was the afternoon of Friday, June 9, and 1,400 workers were preparing for the possibility that when their contract expired at midnight, they would be on strike.

In Erie, 1,500 UE Members To Walkout Over ‘Right To Strike’

Erie, PA – “Pile on,” yells UE Local 506 Business Agent John Miles as the Erie Sea Wolves right fielder Daniel Cabreba hits a fast-hit groundball to shallow right field. “Pile on boys, Pile on,” Miles shouts as Andrew Navigato rounds the base to score the second run of the inning for the hometown Sea Wolves, the AA affiliate of the Tigers. The Sea Wolves, backed by the cheers of scores of union members, who attended Erie’s “Labor Night at the Ballpark” last week, would score four runs in the bottom of the 4th inning. Using the momentum of the 4th inning explosion, the Sea Wolves would go on to win 7-3 and reclaim first place in the Eastern League’s Southwest Division.

The War Over No Strike Clauses Has A New Front Line

“Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains,” philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau said in the 18th century. Likewise, the right to strike is the fundamental source of a union’s power, and everywhere they have signed that right away. ​“No strike clauses,” which ban workers from striking during the course of a union contract, have been ubiquitous for decades — the price, companies argue, of having a contract at all. Breaking out of this power-sucking bargain is a vital task for the labor movement, if it ever wants to be able to stand up to corporate America in a meaningful way. The good news is that at least one union is actively trying.
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