Philadelphia, PA – Philadelphia City Council members today passed Resolution 120500, which would prevent the City Council from advancing any proposed School Reform Commission budget plan until an agreement is reached between 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union and the SRC. The resolution urges the SRC to quickly resolve the negotiations to prevent the layoffs of 2,700 school district workers, many of whom could lose their jobs as soon as July 1, 2012.
“City Council is closely monitoring the SRC budget requests and fully expects an SEIU settlement before we finalize our allocation to the School district this year,” Councilwoman Maria Quiñones Sánchez.
Passage of the resolution comes a week after an historic mass demonstration in downtown Philadelphia against the planned closure of dozens of schools and the layoff of every public school aide, bus driver, attendant, mechanic, building engineer, cleaner and maintenance worker. Most school workers live in communities already reeling from high unemployment. Their salaries alone contribute almost $1 billion to Philadelphia’s economy.
“If this school district eliminates thousands of good jobs, you know what is going to happen? Kids are going to get hurt,” said Ernie Bennett, an engineer at Tanner Duckery School employed by Philadelphia public schools for more than 26 years. “When parents don’t have jobs, how can they take care of their kids, or pay their taxes and their mortgages?” Bennett, who has two grandchildren in the schools and a daughter who teaches and coaches at a Philadelphia high school, mentors kids after work, teaching them how to use a power drill and replace a light bracket.
The resolution calls on Governor Corbett and the General Assembly to restore critical funding to public education for Philadelphia and public school districts across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Council also affirmed that public education should never be dismantled for the sake of further privatization and corporatization schemes.
Council heard testimony from Suzette Christian, a maintenance worker employed by the school district for 10 years. “Without my financial support I will have to sell my home and move to Delaware to take up residence with family, as will countless other school district employees,” said Christian, a single mother of four, including a daughter who attends Lincoln High School.
32BJ represents more than 10,000 workers employed in K-12 school districts, including in Philadelphia, New York City, and other districts throughout New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. With more than 120,000 members, including 10,000 in the Philadelphia area, 32BJ is the largest property services union in the country.