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Pennsylvania

The First Big Strike Of 2023 May Happen Behind Prison Walls

All in all, 2022 was a banner year for organized labor. Thousands of workers in a wide variety of industries unionized; they pushed back against union-busting campaigns from oligarchs and corporate hit men; they went on strike and protested unfair treatment, from California to Alabama and everywhere in between. Public support for unions shot up to 71 percent, and the worryingly under-resourced National Labor Relations Board was inundated with more union election petitions than it could handle. Members of Gen Z, the youngest generation of workers, are even more pro-union than their millennial parents, and they aren’t shy about speaking up. All of that combined momentum isn’t slowing, either. The coming year is already poised to be another big moment for the working class.

Pennsylvania Prison Strike Letter For Fellow Incarcerated People

We at SPARC [Subaltern Peoples Abolitionist Revolutionary Collective] have been organizing in PA prisons for years. We’ve been building our movement with focus on addressing the struggles going on right now. It’s clear from the failure to return to pre-COVID normal procuedure that the administration intends to keep us under elevated restrictions indefinitely. Not only that, but there are many problems with the Pennsylvania injustice system that are not being remedied by politicians and lawyers. We intend to do our part. Prisons are modern day slave plantations which only make profits for our exploiters if we do work. The more of us who refuse to labor for the slave master, the less the system can function. We have the power to shut it down and change conditions for the better.

The Struggle To Keep Water Services In The Public Is Only Just Beginning

Pennsylvania - In early September, the three county commissioners of Bucks County, just north of Philadelphia, voted down a $1.1 billion bid from Aqua Pennsylvania to buy their sewer system. This response to an outpouring of citizen concern about what would have been the largest privatization of a public wastewater system in the country illuminates a larger story — both of the encroachment of privatization and the potential for victories when citizens mobilize around its costs. Aqua had been systematically buying up smaller water systems for years. In New Garden in southeastern Pennsylvania, Bill Ferguson saw his wastewater rates jump nearly 70 percent in the few years after Aqua purchased his township’s sewer system in 2017.

‘No Contract, No Matisse’: Philadelphia Museum Of Art Workers Win Contract

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania -  After a 19-day strike, members of the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) union voted overwhelmingly in October to approve their first contract. Daily pickets had cut into the museum’s attendance and impacted preparation for an anticipated exhibit on the works of French painter Henri Matisse. After two years of stalled negotiations, the 180 workers of AFSCME Local 397 forced the museum’s hand and attracted public support that placed the museum’s well-crafted reputation at risk. The agreement includes a 14 percent raise over three years, an extra $500 for every five years of employment, a larger employer contribution to health care coverage, and, for the first time, four weeks of paid parental leave.

Temple Grad Students Vote To Strike, And Temple’s Bosses Are Afraid

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - The surge of strike energy has reached Philadelphia. Just a few weeks after Philly’s art museum workers struck and won, this past Friday Temple University’s graduate students voted overwhelmingly to strike — by a margin of 99 percent. Contribute to their strike fund here TUGSA — Temple University Graduate Student Association — represents about 750 Teaching Assistants (TAs) and Research Assistants (RAs) across the campus. They’ve been negotiating for 10 months, and working without a contract since February. They’ve been stonewalled by Temple’s bosses. TUGSA is demanding badly needed changes to their pay and working conditions. Looking at Temple’s own math on its new anti-union website, grad student workers and RAs make just $20,000 a year in a city where average rent is around $1,900 a month.

Housing Activists Fight Gentrification In West Philadelphia

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - On Sept. 29, just minutes into freshman convocation, Liz Magill’s first major speech as University of Pennsylvania president was disrupted by about 100 protesters. The protesters, including students, chanted “Save UC Townhomes” and “stop Penn-trification.” After sitting briefly, Magill attempted to continue, making the disrespectful suggestion to the protesters, among whom were local residents facing eviction, that “Democracy cannot work unless people can live together, learn from one another and, paradoxically, disagree.” Amid continuous chants, Magill was unable to finish her remarks. The movement that disrupted this event has become one of the most dynamic forces in Philadelphia in recent months.

Support Philadelphia Museum Of Art strike

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - Since Sept. 26, almost 200 workers have been on strike — not reporting for work in person or virtually — at one of the oldest and largest art museums in the U.S. with over 240,000 works of art from around the world. Members of the Philadelphia Museum of Art Union, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 397, affiliated with AFSCME District Council 47, voted for union representation in a landslide, 89% “yes” vote in August 2020. Since then, the PMA Board of Trustees and executive management have refused to come to an agreement with the PMA Union. After over two years of fruitless talks, after filing a lengthy Unfair Labor Practice charge against museum management, after a strike authorization vote of 99% and after holding a one-day warning strike Sept. 16, workers finally walked off the job Sept. 26.

The Rights Of Nature Movement Cannot Be Stopped

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.

Home Depot Workers Form Independent Union

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.’”

Philadelphia Museum of Art Workers Hold 1-Day Strike for Better Wages, Benefits

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.

Housing Activists Crash Developers’ Party

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.

Philly Maintenance Workers, School Bus Drivers Vote To Authorize A Strike

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.

The City Has Failed University City Townhome Residents

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.

Lenape Tribe Brings Treaty, Fight For Recognition To Bucks County

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

Environmental Activists Acquitted In Case Protesting Political Corruption

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?
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