PHILADELPHIA – Just ahead of St. Patrick’s Day, Mayor Jim Kenney, Congressman Brendan Boyle and 32BJ SEIU will welcome SIPTU—Ireland’s largest union—to the United States for a panel discussion at City Hall on Friday, March 3 at 11:30am focused on immigration, workers’ rights and the fight for equality in the global economy.
Globalization, economic inequality and immigration have deeply impacted the United States and were divisive issues during the 2016 Presidential election. Friday’s panel aims to cut through the heated rhetoric and look at the commonalities that American and Irish workers face, and how they must work together to fight for a fair economy.
The panel discussion comes as immigrants in the United States face unprecedented threats resulting from the Trump Administration’s Executive Orders calling for deportation of millions of immigrants, and a proposed southern border wall built with $21 billion in taxpayer dollars. The anti-immigrant fervor that has reached a fever pitch since the election is similar to the treatment many Irish immigrants faced upon coming to the United States more than a century ago.
Today, Irish immigrants are celebrated for their contributions the United States. However, not long ago they were shut out of jobs, singled out by harsh immigration laws, and targeted for hate crimes and even riots that burned down their churches and homes. Nowhere was this more prevalent than in Philadelphia where anti-Irish riots, spurred by the Know Nothing Party, burned down parts of South Philadelphia and Kensington, killing 20 Irish immigrants.
Mayor Kenney has frequently expounded on the poor treatment and discrimination suffered by Irish immigrants in Philadelphia while defending his protection of local immigrant communities. Congressman Boyle, the son of an Irish immigrant, has often credited his father’s sacrifice and courage in coming to the United States as a primary reason for his success as an elected public official.
Over the last 40 years, radical changes in the global economy have caused manufacturing jobs to leave both Ireland and the United States. In their wake, the service industry has exploded with low-wage jobs. Service worker unions SIPTU and SEIU have already raised wages for millions of low-wage workers in the healthcare, janitorial, pharmaceutical and airline industries. At the panel event, they and will discuss ways to create good jobs that provide prosperity for immigrant and non-immigrant workers alike.
WHAT: Moderated Panel Discussion: Irish/American Immigration and Labor
WHEN: Friday, March 3, 11:30 am-1pm
WHERE: City Hall, Conversation Hall
- Mayor Jim Kenney
- Congressman Brendan F. Boyle
- Joseph O’ Flynn, SIPTU
- Joseph Cunningham, SIPTU
- Gabe Morgan(Moderator) Vice President and PA Director of 32BJ SEIU
With 163,000 members in eleven states and Washington, D.C., 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.