Friday, March 27, 2009

EFCA: Truth and Fiction

Be sure to read this great article by Sarah Jaffe

In his press conference Tuesday night, Barack Obama took pains to emphasize that comprehensive solutions were needed to the economic crisis, and that working families were suffering and needed help to create real wealth.

Congress has before it a bill that would help lessen the inequality in America and support those working families by helping workers organize into unions. That bill is the Employee Free Choice Act, H.R. 1409, introduced on March 10 by George Miller of California, with a who’s who of congresspeople as cosponsors...

The fight isn’t over. Harry Reid noted that other Republicans might be open to working with the bill, and Keystone Progress is already organizing more pressure on Specter to get him to change his mind.

After all, as Rodriguez says, “Wealth is what really should define the middle class, and wealth is stability, and that’s power. We have negative wealth in this country.”

A stronger union movement would help create that stability and power for the working class, and now is not the time to give up or put off the fight.

Monday, March 23, 2009

SEPTA, Be Fair To Women Workers

Use all sick leave before they can use any maternity leave. If the use maturinity leave and return and get hurt then they will lose their job.

Jobs with Justice has been fighting to win basic, humane levels of paid sick-leave for Philadelphia’s workers since 2006. Because of supporters like you, we have been able to win paid sick leave for hundreds of security guards at the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, Temple University and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Every worker needs enough time to get well without risking their economic security, to take care of ailing family members without fear of losing their job and to insure that they can perform their job to the highest standards of quality and public safety without fear of reprimand.

The employees who work for SEPTA also need paid sick leave. They also need maternity leave. Unfortunately, though, they don’t have a fair maternity leave policy at their job. Women who work for SEPTA have to use their sick leave as their maternity leave. What happens if they use all of their sick leave during their pregnancy or while recovering from child birth? They better not get sick, that’s what.

This gender bias policy is unfair. The Transportation Workers Union Local 234, which is in contract negotiations, are trying to correct this policy by instituting a sick leave policy that doesn’t penalize motherhood. These workers need a separate policy that insures that women workers can still afford to get sick and raise their babies!

Come out and support TWU Local 234 at a rally on Thursday, March 26th at 2:45 pm at 1 South Juniper St. March with us to SEPTA headquarters at 1234 Market St.

Starbucks offers watered-down, decaffinated version of EFCA

This version of this critical economic reform takes out the most important aspects of the Employee Free Choice Act...

As business and labor gird for battle over legislation that would make it easier for workers to organize, the debate could be transformed by a "third way" proposed by three companies that like to project a progressive image: Costco, Starbucks and Whole Foods.

Friday, March 6, 2009

In Philadelphia, the Underdog Always Wins

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is one of our cities proudest attractions. In many ways, it is the heart of our city. From the July 4th Welcome America festival to the Live 8 concert, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is the face that Philadelphia shows the world when we want to shine.

Philadelphians show our pride by donating more than $6 million to the museum by way of city contributions, direct payments, subsidies, assistance and special breaks.

Our city has a long and proud working-class history. The museum is known as much for its world-class collections as it for the underdog, working-class champion, Rocky, who bounded up the steps in that iconic film. This love for our working roots has been celebrated in our city laws when our City Council adapted one of the most progressive Prevailing Wage Laws in the country.

Prevailing Wage Laws are worker protection laws that usually apply to sub-contractors who are building things for the city, state or federal government. These laws demand that the contractor pay a family sustaining wage with some decent benefits. Our city has taken this law a step further by applying it to building service workers too.

The Prevailing Wage Law is supposed to apply to building service workers such as security guards, door men and janitors among others, this includes workers who are sub-contracted, who work on any piece of city property. Fairmount Park and the Philadelphia Museum of Art are city property. The law also states that it applies to all workers who work for beneficiaries of city money. The museum is undoubtedly a beneficiary of city money. The security guards at the museum do not earn anything near a prevailing wage. In fact, they all live below what our federal government considers the poverty line*.

Last Thursday, Jobs with Justice activists made ourselves unwanted guests at the VIP party for the opening of the Cezzane exhibit. Though our rally was small, museum leaders completely changed their plans to prevent their large donors from learning about their workers rights violations.

Having been fortunate enough to have been at opening of the Frida exhibit, I know that most of the guests arrive at the west entrance of the building. This door is most convenient to the parking lots. Not for Cezzane, though. No, the museum brought the merry makers in ON A BUS and shepherded them in through the side door near the café!

The museum should have to hide from us or our calls for justice, however, our requests to meet and resolve our issues, to negotiate a solution that we can all live with, have been denied over and over again since December of 2007. We are left to conduct our one-way communications through bullhorn.

The museum and our city government are stealing at least 40% of the wages that ALL of the security guards on the property should be earning. The law states further that the city government can withhold payments if the problem is not corrected and that the city can even go so far as to pay the workers directly. Jobs with Justice is dedicated to fighting to make sure that the museum and our city government live up to their obligations and their word.

You can help out to by filling out our online petition here…

Also, be sure to check out this great video of our protest that was made by the good folks at the Media Mobilizing Project…

Read the Philadelphia Prevailing Wage Law for yourself here…

*Based on the Federal Poverty Guidelines for a family of three