we are here today to remind the political leadership of Philadelphia of their commitments to the workers of this city.
Did you know that there is legislation sitting in committee in City Council that would have let Philadelphia vote on raising the minimum wage this November? Did you know that rather than openly oppose this initiative, the Chamber of Commerce worked behind the scenes to block it with procedure and bureaucracy?
Well we are here today to remind the political leadership of Philadelphia of their commitments to the workers of this city.
We are here today to let them know that we have their back if they take a risk and stand with us to challenge the Chamber of Commerce and Harrisburg by raising the Minimum Wage in Philly.
We are here today to let them know that if they are not true to their promises, if they hide behind the unjust laws that keep 200,000 working Philadelphians in poverty then we are ready to do what it takes to win. By any means necessary.
In Seattle it took the Unions, active grassroots campaigning, community allies, and an independent socialist City Councilor working together, negotiating strategy and tactics, building alliances, working through disagreements, but all pushing in the same direction to win 15. And we had to piss off a lot of politicians along the way.
In Philadelphia, the fight for a $15 minimum wage is one of the most challenging fights there is. We are not Seattle. We are not SanFrancisco. We are not LA. We are the poorest major city in the country. The majority of Philadelphians are people of color. And we are an overwhelmingly working class city in a state that has taken our rights away at every turn.
Harrisburg and the Chamber of Commerce that controls it will fight against every gain for working class people in Philly and across the state. And even when we win, they will fight to take it away.
They have told us we can’t raise our minimum wage.
Told us we can’t govern our own schools.
Told us we can’t pass our own gun control laws.
Philadephia has a long history of working class struggle, it hasn’t always been pretty, there are pieces of this city’s history that we are not proud of, but over all
It is a story of our neighborhoods & communities
It is a story of abolitionists, socialists, working class radicals, and civil rights fighters.
It is a story of workers organizing to defend our class interests
these struggles have been organically linked with the Civil Rights movement. The fights to build multiracial unions. Don’t shop where you can’t work. For Affordable Housing. For Civil Service reform that opened the doors to city jobs to women and minorities based on qualifications instead of race, gender or political connections.
Who was on the other side for all these struggles?
Who opposed change at every turn and worked against the tide?
Who played every card in the deck to keep us divided by race and gender? The Chamber of Commerce.
And many others who hide behind the scenes of history. Rich white men who fought to defend their class interests, the interests of the bosses in this city and the state of PA. And what are their interests? low wages and long hours, union-busting, and a working class divided by racial, gender, ethnic, and economic lines.
Make no doubt about it, we face strong, well funded opponents who know what they want and are willing to go to great lengths to defend their power, privilege and wealth. Because the one thing they fear most is a militant, united, multi racial, multi gendered working class movement.
We cannot match the Chamber dollar for dollar. We cannot beat the Chamber at their own game. We know they will never give us 15. They have never given us anything. Everything we have, we had to fight for.
So Today we are asking:
1- Governor Wolf and his allies in Harrisburg who say they support higher wages to follow NY Governor Cuomo’s lead and do whatever it takes to raise the minimum wage AND allow cities in Pennsylvania to set our own wages.
2 – Democratic Mayoral nominee Jim Kenney to stay strong in his support for a $15 minimum wage, to be a leader and advocate for raising the minimum wage and support binding legislation.
3- A new City Council to introduce and pass binding legislation to raise the minimum wage in Philadelphia.