Philadelphia JwJ was founded in 1999 in order to link unaffiliated activists with labor unions and social justice organizations in solidarity to win victories through the media, on the ground, in picket lines, and at protests. Since then, we have engaged in and won local and national campaigns demanding the fair treatment of workers from some of the country’s most notoriously anti-worker corporations–including Verizon, Comcast, Walmart, and Sunoco. We have also worked on national, state, and city levels as members of the National Jobs with Justice network to fight for immigrants’ rights, single-payer healthcare, workers’ rights to organize, and more.
For four years, Philadelphia JwJ waged a sustained campaign called Philadelphia Officers and Workers Rising (POWR), defending the workplace rights of security guards in the City of Philadelphia. In the first two years, the POWR campaign won major victories including wage raises and paid sick days for guards at the Penn and Temple campuses, and at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In 2008, Philadelphia JwJ began to work closely with officers at the museum as they organized to demand independent union recognition. In a historic election, the Allied Barton guards at the museum overwhelmingly voted to unionize under the Philadelphia Security Officers’ Union (PSOU). Philadelphia JwJ continues to stand in solidarity with the PSOU as the guards fight for a fair contract.
In April 2010, we rallied alongside the nurses of PASNAP during their four-week strike at Temple Hospital, marching with the workers at rallies and pickets, sponsoring a fundraiser for the nurses and their families, and organizing three solidarity rallies and an educational “die-in” through the Temple chapter of our Student Labor Action Project. We remain dedicated to providing solidarity and support for labor and workers in the City of Philadelphia, connecting labor and community activists in a strong network rooted in a shared commitment to the ideal of reciprocity.
In 2010 and 2011, we also served on the Executive Board of the Coalition for Essential Services (CES), a network of 90 community, labor, and social justice organizations fighting against tax breaks for big business as way of finding the money necessary to fund essential city services like domestic violence shelters, libraries, and afterschool programs for children. CES fights in City Hall, in the media, and on the streets for budget justice. CES was a major component of our core programs, since funding for city services is necessary for keeping our city liveable–for both our neighborhoods and our dedicated city workers.
In 2011, Philadelphia JwJ served as the fiscal sponsor of Occupy Philly, and played a key role as a liason between community groups, labor unions, and the occupation. Philly JwJ Community Co-Chair Diane Mohney and Executive Director Gwen Snyder were both arrested at an Occupy Philly sit-in at the Comcast building, protesting tax cuts and abatements granted to major corporations like Comcast by the City.
Since early 2011, we have played a key role the Paid Sick Days coalition, recruiting and organizing faith and labor allies in the fight for paid sick days for working Philadelphians. In late 2011, our proposed paid sick days legislation passed City Council, though it was later vetoed by Mayor Nutter. Currently, we are working with Councilman Greenlee, Pathways PA, Action United, and other allies to pass paid sick days legislation through City Council with a veto-proof majority.
In 2012, Philadelphia Jobs with Justice responded to Philadelphia’s public school funding crisis by launching the Good Neighbor Campaign to pressure the University of Pennsylvania, the city’s largest private landowner, to contribute 0.01% of their operating budget to the School District. In 2017, recognizing the critical role of the 10 year tax abatement in our public school funding crisis, Philadelphia JwJ shifted focus and joined the Our City Our Schools Coalition to demand an end to the 10 year tax abatement.
In 2018, in collaboration with the National Domestic Workers Alliance, Philadelphia Jobs With Justice launched an autonomous domestic worker organizing project to build a broad membership base of domestic worker leaders in Philadelphia and win a Philadelphia Domestic Worker Bill of Rights. Passed in October 2019, the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights expanded labor protections to Philadelphia’s 16,000 nannies, house cleaners, and caregivers for the first time. Following the passage of the bill, the Pennsylvania Domestic Workers Alliance transitioned from a project of Philadelphia Jobs With Justice to a chapter of the National Domestic Workers Alliance.
In 2019, Philadelphia JwJ launched a warehouse worker organizing project in collaboration with key union partners in Southeastern Pennsylvania. This innovative project will directly address the issues faced by low-wage workers of color at the front lines of a changing economy, as well as build lasting structural power for those workers in Pennsylvania. We are currently working to expand our grassroots membership base of warehouse workers, develop a robust cohort of leaders, and win local economic and racial justice campaigns.
In 2020, following the passage of a 10-Year Tax Abatement reform bill that inadequately addresses the funding needs of our public schools, our leadership recognized an opportunity to launch a new campaign for wealthy nonprofits to contribute their fair share of funding to our public schools. Our vision for this much more expansive and transformative campaign, described below, centers both the leadership of directly impacted communities and the power of institutional stakeholders. This campaign is not only the only active campaign to establish a new local funding source for our public schools, but will also be a launchpad for new sustained communities of organizers and activists who will hold our city’s wealthiest institutions accountable for their impact on our city’s poor and working class communities of color.