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).
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, 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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - After a months-long organizing campaign, the resident and fellow physicians at the University of Pennsylvania overwhelmingly voted to unionize with the Committee of Interns and Residents. With 88% of participants voting in favor, the frontline Penn Medicine doctors are the first statewide to gain union representation. Working at one of the region’s largest healthcare providers, Penn’s frontline physicians look forward to advocating for the conditions they need to provide top-quality care without compromising their mental, physical, or financial wellbeing. Despite working at one of the wealthiest university systems in the country, residents often struggle to make ends meet.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - A show of force and unity will take place in Philadelphia April 29 with the message, “No Arena in the Heart of Our City.” Marching from Chinatown to the much-criticized proposed site of a new basketball arena and then on to City Hall, Chinatown residents and allies will be telling the City Council and the mayor that the people are united in opposing the blatant land grab by billionaire developers. In the words of the Save Chinatown Coalition: “The event will be a demonstration of joy, creativity and the power of connecting across communities. It will be a demonstration of fierce resistance to those who seek to tear apart communities and disrupt and distort the Heart of our City in their boundless drive for profits.”
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - Fresh out of an abusive relationship, Andrea O’Reilly was ready to give her twin boys a new life. But facing a cost of living crisis atop a personal crisis, the prospect of buying the basics they would need — clothes, bottles, bouncers, a changing table, a baby monitor, car seats, strollers and more — was daunting. That’s when the Philadelphia mom decided to try her neighborhood Buy Nothing group, where hundreds of locals gave away and exchanged items for free. “I went to the Buy Nothing [Facebook] page and the compassion and generosity of everyone was amazing,” says O’Reilly, who asked to be quoted under a pseudonym amid a legal battle for custody of her children.
Longhorn Pad C is located about half a mile south of a small cemetery and a little over a mile north of a Methodist church in Elk County, in northwestern Pennsylvania. With a population of around 30,000, this county sits squarely in the center of the path the Marcellus Shale formation takes as it curves through the commonwealth. The lonely well pad houses four natural gas wells that records show were initially drilled in 2011 but sat inactive for years after that. Now, it also houses infrastructure designed to mine cryptocurrency, which, according to a comment filed by the surrounding township’s Board of Supervisors, hums loudly enough to have solicited numerous noise complaints from residents.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - A warm and sunny Sunday afternoon was suddenly interrupted by an emergency phone alert: Philadelphia authorities warned the city water supply could be endangered and everyone should cease using drinking water after 2 p.m. Eastern time. Within minutes, people headed to grocery, corner and beer stores to grab water jugs and bottles. By 4 p.m. a couple stores Unicorn Riot checked were mostly picked over. City authorities warned at a Sunday morning news conference that ethyl acrylate, methyl methacrylate and butyl acrylate spilled into Otter Creek from a pipe rupture at the Trinseo PLC chemical plant near the Delaware River late Friday night.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - It’s official. The Temple University Graduate student Association (TUGSA) has voted; and by a margin of 344-8, the six-week-long strike of grad workers in Philadelphia is over. It ended in important victories. As a teacher looking in from the outside — I’m an adjunct in the faculty union here at Temple — it seems to me one of the most important wins is: TUGSA defeated a brutal anti-union campaign. Early on in the strike, Temple’s administrators stripped grad workers of healthcare and tuition remission. They returned healthcare to the workers before the strike even ended, a sign that the bosses saw they were losing.