15 Now Statement on Temple Stadium Plans: Democracy, Funding, and Gentrification.

Last week Temple administration announced their intention to build a football stadium in North Philadelphia. President Theobald and the Board of Trustees intend to raise 100 million dollars for the project. The administration has not consulted with students, faculty, or the community about the massive project to tear up city blocks.

President Theobald and Chairman of the Board of Trustees Patrick O’Connor have made this decision without the approval of students, faculty, and the community. Temple University intends to use private funds from unnamed donors and $20 million dollars in state funds to move ahead with plans to further gentrify North Philadelphia, displace community resources and imperil funds needed to pay campus workers and minimize tuition costs . Temple University is a public school that belongs to its students, its workers, and the residents of North Philadelphia.  It can not function as a corporation where presidents and chairmen are CEO’s; Temple is a public university and the people have a right to a voice in decisions that affect all aspects of the community. Our school is funded by student tuition money and taxpayer dollars. We as students and workers will be held accountable for misspent funds as we pay down student debt, and we deserve a voice in making decisions about how Temple utilizes its funds. 

In a recent article published in the Daily News, staff writer David Murphy demonstrates that many other universities in similar locations and financial situations, like the University of Central Florida and Akron, have invested in on-campus stadiums with negative financial results. Schools have lost millions of dollars on stadiums and the extra administration they maintain to manage them and have used student tuition to pay for the extra costs. These stadium plans have frequently coincided with layoffs, wage cuts, and tuition hikes to offset million dollar deficits created by the football program.

In addition, the $20 million dollars of state funding pledged to Theobald by much-maligned former Republican Governor Corbett is taxpayer money that should be used to ease the burden of tuition and raise wages for workers. Public funds do not exist to build fiscally risky football stadiums, but to make college more accessible to all. This is our money, we have a right to say where it is spent, and we do not want the money spent on a stadium, we want it spent on students, workers, and community programs.

For years Temple has had negative relations with the community. From buying up properties and building the university out into local communities to over-policing of residents, Temple continues its assault on North Philadelphians day in and day out. While Temple claims to have good relations with its neighbors we know from extensive testimony and input from community leaders that the neighborhood has nothing but disdain and contempt for the university. Already Temple uses gentrification and police force to push residents further and further out.  Already residents complain of the disrespect shown by some Temple students who engage in destructive and reckless behavior at late hours, littering the streets with trash and broken bottles. The South Philly stadiums are separate from the city itself, not placed in the middle of a residential neighborhood. An on-campus stadium will dramatically shift the culture of North Philadelphia from a residential area to a clogged commercial sporting complex filled with belligerent drinking, excessive noise, and unpredictable traffic patterns. President Theobald has already admitted there are no plans in place to handle the traffic of thousands of fans in a residential neighborhood.  

Temple’s decision to build a 100 million dollar stadium shows where Temple’s priorities lie. While the board intends to raise tuition by 3% this year, they want to spend 100 million dollars to build a stadium. While campus workers are still paid under $15 an hour and students are the lowest paid workers, Temple decides to spend public funds on building a stadium. While adjunct professors, who make up the majority of the faculty, fight for the right to unionize and higher pay and benefits, Temple decides to spend money on building a stadium. While Temple has been instructed to build a sexual assault crisis center on campus and take rape and assault seriously, Temple decides to spend money on building a stadium. While the North Philadelphia community continues to suffer from deep poverty, food deserts, and lack of access to quality education, Temple decides to invest in building a football stadium. Temple president Neil Theobald and Chairman of the Board Patrick O’Connor are clearly out of touch with the everyday struggles of students, faculty, campus workers, and the surrounding community. Who does Temple have in mind in building the stadium? We can only assume the administration is looking to benefit investors, the corporations like Comcast and Duane Morris that dominate Board of Trustees, and the out-of-state students looking for a football centered school.

Temple was founded on the principle that higher education should be accessible to all and that working class people in North Philadelphia deserve affordable access to higher education. Temple is for the working people of Philadelphia, for people who live in North Philadelphia, and for students who are trying to get an education and better themselves.

We will not let this stadium plan pass through the board quietly. In the weeks to come we will be garnering support from students, workers, and the community. Temple must listen to the people that make up this university and the people that live in North Philadelphia. Here is a short list of things Temple university could be spending money on instead of building a football stadium.

  1. Pay all workers including student workers and subcontracted workers at least $15/hr.
  2. Provide scholarships for students.
  3. Immediately freeze tuition hikes
  4. Allow adjunct professors to unionize and provide full pay and benefits.
  5. Invest in a sexual assault crisis center and making Temple a rape-free campus.
  6. Invest in community relations and public access to university resources.
  7. Build a program that provides a pathway to affordable higher education for North Philadelphia youth.

As students, faculty, workers, and community we deserve more from our public university

15 Now of Temple University

We are ready to do what it takes to win.

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.

Names like:

  • Vare
  • Pew
  • Mitten
  • Gowan
  • Grundy
  • Mellon

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.

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

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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

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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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