Why We Fight For 15

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Yesterday, in the evening rain, we were arrested while advocating for a $15 hourly minimum wage. We stood alongside home care workers, uber drivers, fast food employees, and allies from across the city.

You might be asking: why would high school teachers put themselves on the line for this issue? The answer is simple: workers making minimum wage are also the parents of the students we teach. 

At the current minimum wage of $7.25, if those parents work 40 hours a week, they take home a mere $267.80 after taxes -- not enough to cover the needs of a single person, much less a family. If they begin to work double or triple shifts -- as many fast food workers do -- they become absent from the lives of their own children. And with Philadelphia schools already short on resources, they then have neither the time nor money to support their children’s education the way middle-class families can afford to.

Our concern is not only for our students -- it is for all workers in our city. 
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Take Our Pensions out of Pipelines: #PSERSdivest

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This message is from Anissa Weinraub, a teacher at the Academy at Palumbo.

Attention All PFT members: Our PSERS pension is funding the violation of human rights, Native American land rights, and the potential poisoning of our national water supply. Here's how to tell PSERS to divest from the Dakota Access Pipeline:

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Educators and Unions Join March to End Deportations

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"Not 1 more..." "DEPORTATION!" On Monday, July 25th, the first day of the DNC, local and national migrant justice groups led a march through South Philly to stop all unjust deportations and detentions. The march was led by Juntos and Not1More, and members of the PFT's Caucus of Working Educators and Philly Local UNITE HERE were there to join them.

Educators around the country have begun to join in this fight against unjust treatment of migrants, including many of our students. Teachers in North Carolina have led a nationwide campaign with support of the NEA to free undocumented high-school students, many who were picked up by immigration officers and sent to detention centers while on their way to school. 

In Philly, Working Educators have gathered migrant justice advocates through a summer book club on David Bacon's "Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants". WE has also started a Migrant Justice Group to support groups around the city and work for migrant justice in our schools. 

"Illegal People" book club member Ben Miller and his wife Cristina Martinez, co-owners of restaurant South Philly Barbacoa, provided a barbecue lunch for protestors following Tuesday's march. They will also host an unofficial migrant justice party and concert on Thursday, July 27th from 6pm-2am.

If you'd like to get involved in WE's Migrant Justice work, email us at contact@workingeducators.org! 

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Celebrate Our Union Family at Labor Day '16 Parade and Picnic

As summer gets going, mark your calendars now to celebrate Philadelphia's union family at the annual Labor Day Parade and Picnic this year!

We will begin gathering at 9:30am at the Sheetmetal Workers Union Hall (1301 S. Columbus Blvd, near Washington Ave), with the parade to Penn's Landing kicking off at 10am.

Bring your whole family to celebrate after the march, at the AFL-CIO family celebration and picnic from 11-2pm at Penn's Landing! Click here to download the flyer to print or share on social media.

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From Oaxaca to Filadelfia: Envisioning the Society Our Students Deserve

In 2006, Oaxaca’s section of the educator union (CNTE Local 22) led a months-long occupation of their city to create a society that respected the needs of students, workers, and indigenous people. 10 years later, the same educators and union members in Oaxaca and many other regions are again at the front of a movement to create the society our students deserve.

This time, they are fighting corporate education reforms pushing standardized teacher evaluations, mass layoffs, and the end of free education for all. They have been joined by workers across the country demanding policies that serve the interest of working people, including 200,000 doctors and nurses opposed to similar corporate health care policies.

Their challenge to the government’s attempts to create a society based on exploitation, profit, and trade union busting has sparked massive repression, including the widely-reported deaths of 12 union members when police opened fire on protesters blocking a road, and the abduction and imprisonment of many labor and movement leaders.  

These Mexican educators are at the front of a battle for a better society that U.S. teachers and unions are only starting to express. They are standing up against the government’s plan that “education, health, indigenous and campesino territories, and even peace and security are a commodity for whoever can pay for them, that rights are not rights but rather products and services to be snatched away" (EZLN and Congreso Nacional Indigena).

In Philadelphia, our students’ right to a quality education, families’ rights to thriving neighborhoods without fear of deportation or displacement, and workers’ rights to dignified wages and treatment continue to be stripped away via a "death by a thousand cuts". Mexico’s educators and rank-and-file workers are showing us how to fight for just society against a system that wants to turn our communities into commodities.

Local 22 has spent the last few years crafting a counterproposal to the Mexican government’s education reforms. Among the points in the counter proposal are a curriculum based in the diverse, indigenous, and multicultural context of Oaxaca, teaching practices based in critical pedagogy, and the elimination of standardized testing to evaluate either students or teachers.

From Chile to El Salvador to Colombia, Latin America has always served as the United States’ testing ground for market-driven and union-busting policies. Their struggle is our struggle. We send our rage, tears, and admiration to these education workers who have demonstrated time and again that educators and unions have a key role in articulating a vision of the society we deserve.

While the attacks on public education, workers, and unions continue to escalate in the U.S. and across the world, we pledge to fight alongside the educators of Oaxaca and around the world for a society in which education, health, housing, and dignity are rights that every student and worker deserves.

To show our solidarity, please join us for a Oaxacan-style Barricada Cultural on Monday Night in front of Philadelphia’s Mexican Consulate at 8pm. If you would like to contribute financially, members of the Chicago Teachers Union have set up a grassroots fundraiser to support Oaxacan and CNTE educators.

If you would like to learn more or discuss the role of the U.S. in political and economic destabilization in Latin America, please join our summer book club on “Illegal People” by David Bacon (or one of the 14 other book clubs exploring racial justice, culturally relevant teaching, labor history, and many other topics).

Statement written by Max Rosen-Long, Edwin Mayorga, and Jennifer Cox.

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(Milwaukee educators, students, and community members show support for Oaxacan teachers at their Mexican Consulate) 

 

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THURSDAY: March in defense of North Philly communities and students

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The Caucus of Working Educators just signed on to endorse Stadium Stompers - a movement of students, communities members, and allies that have come together to stop the Temple stadium. 

Temple University has proposed a plan for a $100 million football stadium in the heart of historic North Philadelphia. Why should Temple be stopped, and why should WE join the fight?

  • The stadium will push a largely Black community out of their homes- including many of our students, families, and coworkers.
  • Temple is choosing to prioritize their own bottom-line over education.
  • Even Mayor Kenney has criticized the stadium as being a bad deal for the city. Our schools and communities deserve true investment, autonomy, and stability.
  • The Stadium Stompers will be marching alongside a simultaneous marches in support of the fight for $15 Minimum Wage and an end to stop-and-frisk and police brutality.

In the School District of Philadelphia we are familiar with bad, backroom deals in the name of education- but which do nothing to help students or our city while raising profits for a small group of business interests.  

Joining this movement is about more than signing on as endorsers. WE have to show up:

  • On Thursday, April 14, Stadium Stompers will meet from 2:00-3:30 at Broad and Cecil B. Moore by the Bell Tower to demand that Temple STOP the stadium.
  • At 3:30, Stadium Stompers will march down Broad to join the simultaneous #Fightfor15 March at city hall.
  • If you can't make it to Broad and Cecil B Moore by 3:30, you can head directly to City Hall to meet us.
  • Invite all your friends on facebook, and share widely!

Show up the whole time or show up for ten minutes- but be there! We must say NO to the stadium, NO to displacement and gentrification, and YES to education!

 

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Standing Together: Educators Fight for $15 Minimum Wage on Nov. 10th

On November 10 fast food workers in Philadelphia and across the nation will hold strikes and rallies to support the effort to establish a $15 minimum wage and expand the right of workers to unionize. In Philadelphia, educators will be there in solidarity.

4.15.15.Fightfor15March.jpgThis event, one year before the 2016 general election, begins a year of organizing and voter registration efforts meant to ensure that candidates hear the voice of workers and their families. This campaign also seeks to ensure that elected officials support policies that promote economic justice, including a livable and sustainable wage.

yGood.group.Chamber.jpgThe Caucus of Working Educators stands in solidarity with these workers and organizers in their fight. As part of our Racial Justice Statement, we recognize economic justice as an essential part of supporting our students and eliminating structural racism in education.

Fightfor15.Eileen_Duffey.jpgAs workers we know that in order to build a just economy we must support each other and stand together. As educators we know that too many of our students and too many of their families find it harder to achieve their goals and reach their potential because of economic inequality. As working educators we know that schools and society can not be improved in isolation from each other, but must be rebuilt together by the community. 

t10906199_948594501867150_6916163835226543005_n.jpgOn Tuesday Fight for 15 will take another step in that effort. In the year ahead we look forward to working alongside them to promote racial, economic, and social justice for all of Philadelphia’s students and their families.

Please join us as educators and workers on Tuesday for the Fight for $15 National Day of Action:

Tuesday, November 10th
3:30pm
City Hall
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Le Bok Fin: What Do We Value? What Are We Forgetting?

If you were around in Philly this summer, then you probably have heard about Le Bok Fin -- Philly's the "hottest new bar" stationed on top of the former Bok Technical High School.  As working educators and community members, many of us in WE and TAG were deeply upset about this type of development in our city.  
Although the narrative of development says: "a building shouldn't remain empty" -- we wanted to push back against that type of market-driven logic and remember that Bok's current status is the result of a massive slashing and gutting of our public schools' budget, on top of the historic disinvestment we've seen in Philadelphia's public schools for decades, and the subsequent disaster-capitalism-type shuttering of 23 schools in 2013.
Gentrification often depends on a certain amount of "forgetting" -- i.e. how the space used to function, who inhabited the space and benefitted from its resources.  Educators and community activists came out to talk to bargoers about the real story of Bok Technical High School, to ask the question, "What do we value in Philadelphia?" and to share a vision of stable communities and equitably-resourced public goods that benefit youth of color in our city.
Check out the video from the September Action at Bok Technical High School. 
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May Day 2015: Forming Bonds of Solidarity

We have said that WE cannot win the struggles we are currently waging for the future of our schools without forging bonds of solidarity with unions across the city. This Friday, join caucus members to enjoy music, food, and conversation with union members and activists from across the city-- don't forget to wear your WE shirt!

MAYDAY Rally and Festival

Friday, May 1st, 3 to 6PM

Clark Park: 43rd and Baltimore 

School nurse and WE steering committee member Eileen Duffey explains why she'll be there:

May day, the international celebration of workers is recognized here in Philadelphia in a joyous gathering including many local activists we've seen at rallies this year. It's a great opportunity to celebrate with union supporters from across the city and to honor this year's recipients of the Aggie Moran award which is given each year the May Day event. Aggie devoted her life to furthering the cause of unions and justice.

When the school nurses rallied for 22 weeks in 2012, the May Day organizers joined our rallies in solidarity. They later publicly recognized the nurses as recipients of the Aggie Moran award. In 2013 the SRC 19, a group of teachers and citizens who exercised civil disobedience when 23 public schools were shuttered, were honored at the May Day rally.

The May Day celebration is a great way to be supportive, see friends, make new friends and allies in our mutual struggles, and still be home in time to enjoy your weekend. Hope to see you there.

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Joyful Solidarity with Fight for 15 on 4/15

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This Wednesday, join the Education Contingent at 4:00pm on the SE Corner of 30th and Market to march for a just economic system for all Philadelphians. Palumbo H.S. teacher Anissa Weinraub explains why we will be there in "joyful solidarity":

From my vantage as a teacher in the Philadelphia public schools, the Fight for 15 campaigners are not just fierce workers organizing for a better employment situation; rather, they are whole people -- the families of my students, the residents of my school community, the former graduates of my classroom.  And I am going to show up this Wednesday, April 15, to join with thousands of Philadelphians and march in support of the Fight For 15.    

You should be there too.
 
If you've ever taught a student who didn't have secure housing, enough food to eat, or regular health care because their family didn't have the money -- you should be there.
 
If you've ever had to wake up a groggy student in class who was up late working a low paying service job to help out with the bills in their family -- you should be there.
 
If you've ever had a student tell you they didn't do their homework or couldn't participate in an afterschool club because they have to take care of their younger siblings while their parents are out at their 2nd or 3rd jobs just to scrape by -- you should be there.
 
And more broadly:
If you've ever benefitted by having union protection and/or a collectively bargained contract -- you should be there.
 
If you've ever done the math and realize that a family just cannot survive on $7.25/hour -- you should be there. 
 
If you've joined in the recent protests and movement work directed toward racial justice, demanding that Black Lives Matter -- you should be there.
 
I am humbled and inspired by the courageousness of this action -- not simply to strike on Wednesday -- but to insist that we, as workers, as a city, as a whole society, can join in collective action to push back against a deeply inequitable economic system and instead build toward a changed future that prioritizes people over profit.  
 
Things will kick off at the McDonald's on Broad and Arch at 3pm, and will then march through the city toward 30th Street Station.  The Caucus of Working Educators will have an educator solidarity meet-up spot at 4pm at the SE corner of 30th and Market. 

Read the whole blog post here. See you on Wednesday!

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