Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Prayer Vigil For Guards Today at 5

Ministers from three local congregations will gather with security guards and activists at 5:15 pm, Wednesday, October 7, at the West Entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, at the foot of the world famous statue by Jacob Epstein called “Social Consciousness.”

The gathering will be a short prayer vigil to help motivate guards to vote to form their own Philadelphia Security Officers Union at an election to be held in the museum on Friday and Saturday.

The prayer vigil will feature a brief speech by Patrick Eiding, the President of the AFL-CIO Central Labor Council, and prayer offerings by Bishop Dwayne Royster of Living Water United Church of Christ in North Philadelphia and Reverend Jay Broadnax of Mt Pisgah AME in West Philadelphia.

According to Juanita Love, a security officer, “It is scary for guards to walk into that voting booth with your employer sitting there. There have been many threats against voting for the union. We think that the support of our churches will go a long way to giving us the strength and courage that we will need to vote 'yes' for the union and to solve our issues.”

The guards decided to form their own union after they could not find any established unions to help them, and after appeals for wage and benefit improvements failed to prompt their employer, AlliedBarton, or the host client, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, to make changes.

Bishop Dwayne Royster has observed: “Galatians tells us: 'Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.'

"We must remind the guards," he continued, "that the 'proper time' is this upcoming Friday and Saturday. They should not be afraid to vote for their union.”

Fabricio Rodriguez, executive director of Jobs with Justice, a community group that is involved in the union effort, has said: “We know that an overwhelming number of the guards want to be a part of this union. Seventy per cent of the officers have told us they support it. Still, many people might be too afraid to vote.”

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