15 Now Temple Responds to President Theobald’s “State of the University”

On Thursday October 8th the President of Temple University Neil Theobald addressed a crowd behind closed doors in a gathering not open to the student body. He delivered his state of the university address boasting Temple’s football record and the massive new buildings Temple is constructing on and around Temple’s campus.

As mentioned above, students were not invited to this event. Students in 15 Now Temple wrote a response to Theobald’s state of the university. Here it is:

On Thursday, October 8th, President Theobald gave his “State of the University” address.  Students were not invited to this event. While President Theobald celebrates Temple’s football record and the new buildings Temple has constructed, the community surrounding the university, which is primarily Black and Latino, is one of the poorest zip codes in the nation. While President Theobald pats himself on the back for attracting new donors and an increase in Temple’s US News and World Report ranking, thousands of student workers, who are already facing rising tuition and a mountain of student debt, are paid poverty wages.  

Temple claims that paying higher wages would mean an increase in tuition and that it is not fiscally responsible. Is President Theobald’s six-figure salary, personal driver, and penthouse in Rittenhouse square fiscally responsible? Is the 35 million dollars Temple spends on advertising and building gaudy monstrosities like Morgan Hall while eliminating affordable housing fiscally responsible? Are the exorbitant salaries of coaches and millions poured into the football and basketball programs fiscally responsible? Temple University’s financial woes are not a matter of lacking funds but a failure of priorities.  

The State of North Philadelphia is that of a crisis. Temple University can either exacerbate or it can help alleviate this crisis. Currently it is doing the former. Temple gentrifies and forces community members out of their homes. Temple Police act as conquistadors establishing and maintaining the borders of the Temple Colony of North Philadelphia. The militarization of the campus creates an artificial border between the university and the surrounding community, which encourages hostility and violence. The Temple board of trustees is occupied by the super rich, governing as a dictatorship, ignoring the cries of students, faculty, staff, and the community. President Theobald has consistently refused to meet with students to address these concerns, using police force to prevent even a letter from being delivered.

As an institution Temple University condones sexual violence, while simultaneously using the threat of violence as an excuse for further militarization and surveillance. Despite recommendations after a Title IX investigation, Temple refuses to establish a rape crisis center on campus to support and aid victims of sexual violence. The fact that Patrick O’Connor, the lawyer who defended Bill Cosby after he was accused of assaulting a Temple employee, is the chairman of the board of trustees makes it clear that sexual violence is institutionally sanctioned at Temple University and indicates an absolute disregard for students’ safety, specifically for the safety of women and LGBTQ people.

Temple University operates like a corporation with regards to it’s students and employees and much like an occupying force with regards to the surrounding community. President Theobald’s restructuring of funding and purging of radical professors has been part of a large scale neo-liberalization of higher education. Departments such as African American Studies, Latin American Studies, Women’s Studies and the liberal arts as a whole have been sacrificed on the altar of profit and gutted of substance. President Theobald and the board of trustees fear the ideas and concepts discussed in these departments and want to keep students ignorant in these subjects.  

Temple can become a great institution that serves the community and educates young people towards a better future. Temple can become a cornerstone of Philadelphia when as an institution Temple pays workers living wages, respects North Philadelphia, rededicates itself to liberal arts education, and when Temple makes campus a rape-free environment that is safe for all students and faculty. Towards this possible future, we call on Temple to make very necessary changes to the function and priorities of the university.

We call on Temple University to pay all it’s employees at least $15 an hour, including student workers, and require all businesses that it contracts with to do the same.  

We call on Temple University to respect the rights of Adjunct professors and all other workers to unionize.  

We call on Temple University to actively engage with the residents of North Philadelphia and address the concerns and demands from community members including Temple’s role as a gentrifying force in North Philadelphia and the relationship between Temple’s police force and the local community.

We call on Temple University to create a rape crises center on campus in accordance with the recommendations from the Title IX investigation.

We call on Temple University to stop the assault on liberal arts programs and its faculty and rebuild liberal arts with the integrity of academic freedom and full funding.

Temple Students, faculty, campus workers, and North Philadelphia community members will be speaking out on these injustices and delivering 15 Now’s State of the University to President Theobald tomorrow at 1:45 pm.


Update! 15/hour charter amendment to be introduced today!

We want to thank everyone who called Councilman Greenlee’s office to show your support for the 15/hour Charter Amendment. Councilman Goode will be introducing the legislation today for Kenyata Johnson who has a family emergency, and Greenlee has said he will not  block it – but we are still waiting for a timeline that will ensure the question is on the November ballot. All your calls made a difference!!! 

Open Appeal to Councilman Bill Greenlee on $15 Ballot Question

It’s time to let Philly vote on on a $15 minimum wage.

We are in an unprecedented moment in working class struggle. There is real political momentum behind a doubling of the minimum-wage, not just in Philadelphia but across Pennsylvania. 15 Now, Fight For 15, Raise the Wage PA, POWER, too many unions and progressive organizations to name, and your colleagues in CIty Council, are working hard to win an increase in the minimum wage. PA State Senator Daylin Leach is introducing an aggressive bill for $15 an hour in Harrisburg. 5 out of 6 Philadelphia Mayoral candidates support raising the minimum wage to $15/hour.

A strong vote for $15 on the November ballot from Philadelphia will send a clear message to Harrisburg (and Washington DC) that the time has come for a long overdue raise.

All indicators of public opinion–from last November’s general election results, to local and national polls–show broad public support for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. A recent survey of Democratic Philadelphia voters found 87% of Philadelphians support a $15 minimum wage for all workers. Nationally, respected polls have shown 63% of our nation supports $15.

15 Now Philly members have been working tirelessly to find a way to win $15 in Philly. An army of dedicated volunteers met with City Council members and traveled to Harrisburg to talk to state representatives. We testified during Council Hearings, and spend thousands of hours canvassing talking to thousands of Philadelphians who need a raise. We filled the streets in massive numbers. And we diligently consulted economic, legal and political experts to find a way around Harrisburg’s ban on raising the minimum wage, even when we were told it was impossible.

Now, as we fight our way forward in the best way we know how, you have chosen to block us from introducing the ballot initiative.

We understand you are making what you see as principled arguments against putting a charter change to support 15 on the ballot. We know you don’t like charter changes, but our political choices are few.

It’s obvious there are more legal and political limitations on Philadelphia than on Seattle, San Francisco or Oakland. But we live in the poorest big city in the country, and there is a staggeringly large population of Black and Brown workers living in poverty. We can’t afford to wait.

Our city’s residents are already doing whatever it takes to get a raise for Philly workers. 7,000 church members and union members marched for $15 in MLK Day. Hundreds of Philadelphia’s fast food workers walked off the job for $15 and a union over the last year and a half. We are imploring you to do your job as our elected representative and put $15 on the ballot.

It is no longer enough to simply voice objections on process. Inaction by City Council is not acceptable to the working class families of this city. If you support raising the minimum wage to 15 an hour, and you don’t like our charter change, then you need to put forward a clear second option.

Are you willing to introduce binding legislation to raise the wage to 15 in Philly right now? If the answer is no, then clear the way for a ballot question, so you and your colleagues have political momentum on your side when we ask you to challenge Harrisburg.

Councilman Greenlee, we ask you to seriously consider your actions and the needs of your constituents. Today, after 5 years of hard work, Paid Sick Leave is finally on the books in Philly. You have worked hard to push many progressive issues through city council over the years. Yet despite this, and the work of your colleagues, Harrisburg still takes our taxes, runs our schools, profits from our parking tickets, and is even threatening to overturn Paid Sick Leave at the last minute.

Harrisburg will stop at nothing to take away our rights. And the time is now to show them we won’t stand for it anymore. No significant gains have ever been made for the working class by obeying the rules written by our oppressors. So, stand with us and continue the fight for $15.

Philadelphia wants to vote on $15 an hour. We we want to challenge Harrisburg’s undemocratic ban on raising the minimum wage. We are willing to do whatever it takes, and we ask you and all of City Council to do the same.

Let our city vote on a $15 minimum wage in November.

Ahead of Mayoral Debate, 15 Now Philly Stages Guerilla Projection for $15 Minimum Wage

Philadelphia, PA — Tonight, Philly’s Democratic mayoral candidates will debate at the Temple Center for Performing Arts in North Philly. Much of their conversation will center on the economic future of the city. Ahead of the debate, $15 minimum wage activists staged a artistic direct action at the debate’s venue.

With the help of projection artist Dan Zink, members of 15 Now Philly projected facts about Philadelphia’s poverty rates and questions for mayoral candidates directly on to the debate venue’s facade.

North Philly neighbors and Temple students passing by pointed at the projection art and stopped to chat with 15 Now and the artists. Many signed petitions and committed to sending a tweet to candidates before the debate tonight.

“I’ll probably go and see what candidates are saying so I know who to vote for. Politicians should try living off $7.25 an hour and it would be clear to them why we need the $15 minimum wage,” said a low wage worker passing by.

Democratic candidates Jim F. Kenney, Anthony Hardy Williams and Nelson Diaz have announced they support a $15 minimum wage in Philly, but have not yet put forward plans to circumvent the state’s illegitimate municipal ban.

15 Now member and Temple senior Pele Irgangladen said, “Philadelphians want to know, are the mayoral candidates willing to commit to $15 minimum wage– not just in rhetoric, but guarantee they’ll fight alongside us to do whatever it takes to exercise our right to implement our own minimum wage.”

15 Now Philly is pushing a ballot referendum in November to demonstrate overwhelming local support for a $15 minimum wage. The ballot initiative is designed to push lawmakers to legislate a direct challenge to Harrisburg’s illegitimate ban on municipal wage raises.

PA State Senator Daylin Leach has also proposed an aggressive bill that will immediately raise the minimum wage statewide and eliminate the tipped minimum wage and rallied with 15 Now Philly last Friday.

“I do think [candidate’s positions on the $15 wage] will influence how people vote,” said Temple freshman and art student Gillian Mead.

On May Day, Local & Statewide Movement on $15 Minimum Wage

On May 1st, fast food and other low wage workers will announce their intention to place a home rule charter amendment question on the ballot in November that presents an opportunity for the residents of Philadelphia to vote in support of a $15 minimum wage.

Mayoral polls done by municipal union, AFSCME have already indicated support for a $15 minimum wage in Philly to be as high as 87% among likely voters.

A popular referendum on $15 an hour in November will put pressure on the state legislators to raise the minimum wage across the state to $15 an hour, to lift the undemocratic ban on municipal wage increases, and set the stage for city council to institute bold measures to challenge the ban if no action is taken on a statewide level.

Additionally, State Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery/Delaware) today announced legislation to raise the state minimum wage immediately to $15 per hour. The bill would also index the minimum wage to inflation and eliminate the tipped minimum wage. He and 15 Now are seeking co-sponsors in the PA Assembly and Senate for the $15 bill.

Said 15 Now member Sarah Giskin, “15 Now PA is heartened to see that Pennsylvania state representatives are turning the urgent demand for a $15/hour into action. 15 Now chapters across the state will be pushing hard for Senator Leach’s bill. We are prepared, however, to fight for the removal of the undemocratic ban on Philadelphia raising its own minimum wage if the legislature does not pass a statewide $15/hour bill. We will do whatever it takes to end poverty in our city, starting with putting a $15 minimum wage referendum on the November ballot in Philadelphia.

In 2015, the #fightfor15 and #blacklivesmatter movements have set a tone of mass struggle to achieve dramatically improved working and living conditions, especially for people of color who are over-represented in low wage work. Philadelphia is the poorest major city in the country, and 28% of residents live under the federal poverty line.

On International Workers’ Day, Philadelphia workers will uphold the holiday’s bold history of struggle, by demanding a minimum wage of $15 an hour in the city of Philadelphia and across the state of Pennsylvania. May Day is rooted in the struggle for the 8 hour day, when hundreds of thousands of workers across the nation staged a general strike to win a shorter work day and higher wages.

PA State Senator Leach Proposes $15 Min Wage Bill

April 29, 2015

HARRISBURG – State Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery/Delaware) today announced legislation to raise the state minimum wage to $15 per hour. The bill would also index the minimum wage to inflation and eliminate the tipped minimum wage.

Leach explained his proposal to his Senate colleagues in a co-sponsorship memo, attached to the announcement today.

Leach’s statement on his new proposal:

“An economy that forces full-time workers to toil in poverty is clearly in need of repair. While corporations shower their executives with extravagant bonuses, lavish benefits and golden parachutes, they force their own employees to supplement meager wages with government assistance programs, all at the taxpayers’ expense. It’s time for employers to pay their fair share and for workers to get a fair shake.”

Leach will speak about his new bill at a rally for advocates of a $15 minimum wage on Friday, May 1, 2015 in Philadelphia. Details are below.

May 1st, 2015 at 2:00pm

McDonald’s at 3935 Walnut St, Philadelphia (40th & Walnut)


The Office of Senator Daylin Leach
Steve Hoenstine, Director of Communications
W: 717-787-5544
M: 717-683-3110

We Work! We Sweat! Put 15 On Our Check! Strike 4/15!


On April 15th the City of Philadelphia Erupted in Raucous, Righteous Noise!

Fight For 15 and 15Now activists spread throughout the city for a day-long series of actions in protest of the corporate policies that exploit the working class in order to fill the pockets of the 1%.  We joined our sisters and brothers from across the country and around the world in fighting back against the continuing international capitalist assault on workers


From South to North, and East to West we marched, rallied, mic checked, and occupied for $15/hour and a union. The chants “15 Now!”, and “We Work!  We Sweat!  Put 15 On Our Check!” echoed throughout the city.


At Temple University students, faculty and food service workers struck, rallied and marched out to join the action. Temple 15Now invaded the University President Theobald’s Barbecue to deliver a letter demanding 15 and union for all Temple U. employees. Then they occupied and mic checked Morgan Hall to speak out against low wages, poverty, institutional racism and the university’s role in gentrifying the neighborhood. After being escorted out by the Temple Police, the Students and faculty got on a bus to the McDonalds at 40th and Walnut to join a rally of hundreds of students and workers on strike for $15 and a union. Workers shared their stories and students gave speeches in solidarity as McDonalds workers and police watched on. After shutting down the McDonalds, they marched together down Chestnut St to the 30th St. Bridge.  Onlookers and workers joined the crowd and a drum line beat time while the marchers chanted “straight from the 215, we’re fighting for $15 and doing it live.”


15Now Philly hit the McDonald’s and Popeye’s  at Broad and Carpenter, for a spirited mic check that communicated our mission, asked on-duty workers to join the cause and outlined the legal rights of fast-food workers to engage in unionizing activity without retaliation during their personal or on-duty break time. Then we took the street and marched, chanted and sang our way north on Broad Street, right through the heart of City Hall and on to the McD’s at Broad and Arch Street.


Multiple marches converged downtown and SEIU 32BJ, Fight For 15, and 15Now were joined by a diverse cross-section of local unions and community organizations. As the crowd swelled to over 1000 we marched through Center City stopping at several corporate headquarters for brief remarks then danced and chanted to a final rally at 30th Street Station to meet the march from West Philly. A successful day, but just another in a series of small steps along the way to our ultimate goal. 15 Now Philly stands committed to building on these successes, broadening our coalition and keeping the pressure on State and City elected officials to meet our demand for a $15 minimum wage now.


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This Saturday: Philly’s 4th Low Wage Workers Council Meeting

Across the country low wage workers are organizing for $15 And A Union.

On April 11th Philadelphia’s Low Wage Workers Council is holding it’s 4th public meeting. 12-2pm At 4029 Market St

These meetings are open to all workers as a space to learn about organizing history, share common experiences and skills.

This Saturday the Council will be discussing the importance of STRIKES and MASS ACTIONS throughout history. We’ll be talking about the 1934 Teamsters strike in Minneapolis, the Memphis Sanitation worker strike in 1968, and the Fast Food Strikes of today!

All Out On the 15th!

Then next Wednesday April 15th will see the largest action ever of low wage workers fighting for a $15/hour minimum wage, with 60,000 low-wage workers and supporters in over 200 cities participating. Fast food workers will be joined by adjunct college faculty, retail and airport workers, home health care aids, and groups formed out of the historic #BlackLivesMatter movement.

Lets go all out in Philly on the 15th!

It’s a #15Spring!

Starting in December 2012 with a strike of fast food workers in New York City, this movement has spread like wildfire across the US and has shown the way forward in the fight against historic levels of inequality. According to a January Hart Research poll, 63% of the country now supports a $15 federal minimum wage. Support is even higher in most big cities.

Everywhere, anger at corporate greed – and the extreme wealth and racial inequities – is reaching a boiling point. The fight for a $15 an hour minimum wage has the potential to become a powerful mass movement uniting low-wage workers demanding union rights, people of color standing up against racism, and young people facing a dead-end future.