As you may have heard, School District of Philadelphia employees represented by the union SEIU 32BJ have voted to strike if they don't reach a new contract agreement by August 31st, when their current contract will expire.
The SDP employees represented by 32BJ are some of the most essential workers who keep our students safe and our schools running: about 2,000 building cleaners and building engineers, bus drivers and bus attendants, mechanics, maintenance workers, and other trades workers.
The big issues at stake are pay and training:
“You have cleaners working for $14.31 an hour, poverty wages,” Bynum [a union official] said in an interview. “You have members that drive buses for $19 an hour, and everybody else is paying $25 an hour. All we are asking for is a wage comparable to the people who do the same work we do in the city.” ...32BJ is also asking for more continuing education for some members — from active-shooter and de-escalation training to training on how to identify asbestos for workers who may encounter it.
As fellow union members working together in our schools, our 32BJ siblings deserve the support of PFT members to win a contract that's good for them, their families, AND all of our school communities!
So what can PFT members (and other allies) do to support 32BJ's fight for a just contract?The most important thing is to talk to the 32BJ members in our buildings, find out what they need, and show our support as PFT members for a strong 32BJ contract!
Here are some ideas to get started:
Talk to the 32BJ members in your building. Let them know we're behind them!
If you are a Building Reps or on the Building Committee, discuss 32BJ's contract fight at your chapter meeting this week. Invite 32BJ members to the meeting to share their concerns, demands, and ideas.
Take a solidarity photo with PFT members in your school in support of 32BJ. Or maybe a statement or video on why you appreciate the 32BJ workers in your building! Share any photos or other solidarity statements on social media to show SDP that we are united as union members.
- Follow SEIU 32BJ on facebook, instagram, and twitter! Share and support their posts about the contract fight in Philly, and be ready to follow any action steps they release as negotiations continue.
Share your solidarity ideas! Send us a message on social media with any other suggestions or ideas for solidarity that you or your building come up with and want to share (or email us at [email protected]).
This is an ongoing story, and this post will be updated as new information and action steps emerge. Please reach out with any suggestions or updates.
Pictured above: 32BJ Philadelphia members rally outside of Ben Franklin High School on August 20th, following their strike authorization vote.