Media Mobilizing Project

Taxi Workers, Nurses and Jobs: Big day in Philadelphia tomorrow

Friday March 19th is a big day across the City with a bunch of important events focused on the state of Philadelphia's employed and unemployed.

First, tomorrow at 10AM in room 400 of City Hall, the PA House Urban Affairs Committee along with the Unified Taxi Workers Alliance and Liberty Resources will hold a public meeting on House Bill 1914. This bill would grant Taxi Drivers the right to workers compensation coverage and create wheelchair accessible taxis. Workers compensation coverage is particularly important for cab drivers as they are 60 percent more likely to be killed on the job and 80 percent more likely to be assaulted on the job according to recent statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor. Moreover, according to the Philadelphia Parking Authority, taxi drives make an average of $29.50 plus tips per 12 hour shift or $4.17 an hour, and it has been reported by taxi drivers that wages are declining even further due to the recession.

HB1914 would compel medallion owners (who have seen the value of medallions go up 400 percent in the last four years) to pay around $1.50 a day for workers compensation coverage. The bill would also necessitate some wheelchair accessible cabs, which most major cities already have. Check out the video Driving the America Dream a joint production of UTWA and Media Mobilizing Project focused on the working conditions and need for workers compensation for cab drivers.

Second, tomorrow at 10:15 outside the main entrance of Temple University Hospital (Broad and Ontario) National AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka will join rank-and-file union leaders to pledge all-out support from organized labor for an impending strike by Temple University Hospital’s 1,500 nurses and professional and technical employees. Shortly before the press event, the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP) will deliver a 10-day strike notice to the hospital, setting a walkout deadline of 7:00 A.M. Wednesday, March 31. Check out recent reporting on the nurses campaign at Temple University on MMP's labor blog: PASNAP wins tuition reimbursement battle | Temple students meet with PASNAP | Temple found guilty of bad-faith bargaining with PASNAP | Temple Doesn't want us to Speak for our Patients

Finally at 11:45 National AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and Philadelphia AFL-CIO President Pat Eiding will lead hundreds of union activists in a massive rally at Paine Plaza -- across from City Hall at 15th and JFK -- to tell Bank of America that it's time to pay up to restore the jobs Wall Street destroyed in the worst financial collapse since the great depression. This event is one of 200 actions happening across the country at the Big 6 Wall Street Banks now through March 26 demanding "Good Jobs Now: Make Wall Street Pay."

Philadelphians should definitely come out and support these events

Media and Democracy? Senator Franken Warns of Dangers in Comcast/NBC Universal Merger, Details Company's Dishonesty

On Thursday February 4, the Senate held hearings on the potential merger of Comcast and NBC Universal. During the hearings Senator Al Franken warned that we should be nervous about the companies that own our media and we should be particularly nervous when one company owns both the means to produce programs and the pipes that deliver those same programs. Senator Franken later went on to detail his dealings with Comcast CEO Brian Roberts on the merger, depicting either extreme dishonesty or incompetence.

In a Youtube video of the senate hearing Franken explains:

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From the Other Side of the Fence”; Sharpton, Gingrich, and Duncan's "Listening Tour" in Philadelphia

Students from PSU and YUC talk to Arne Duncan and Al Sharpton through a wrought iron fence.

A couple of weeks ago Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, the Reverend Al Sharpton and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich came to our city as part of their “Listening and Learning Tour” regarding a national agenda for public education reform. Students, parents, teachers, and community organizations were left wondering who the group was really listening to, since none of us were included in the tour’s agenda. We were only able to speak with them through a locked and guarded wrought-iron fence.

In the weeks leading up to the visit the Philadelphia Student Union (PSU) sent several requests for the trio to meet with those who would be most affected by the reforms they plan to implement. PSU reached out through letters, calls, and emails on behalf of over 20 community organizations including Youth United for Change, Teacher Action Group, Education Not Incarceration, the Southeast PA Network, the United Taxi Workers Alliance, West Philly High Community Partners, Parents United, Radio Tlacuache, the Community Education Network, Labor Justice Radio, PA ACORN, and William Penn Community Stakeholders.

Because we believe in transparency, we attempted to get information to circulate to the entire community on the itinerary of the tour, but found that it was not public information. Every office assured us that someone else had control over the schedule. We received notice of the tour schedule at the same time the press did, approximately two days prior to the event. District leaders did not support our request to demonstrate to the members of the Listening and Learning Tour that there is an active, mobilized community in Philadelphia that supports our public schools.

New York Times on Philly's Media Future

Local indy media – particularly the Philadelphia Public School Notebookgot big props in yesterday’s New York Times Magazine. Calling it "notably well written" and a place that "breaks stories," the Times also highlights editor Paul Socolar:

Its editor, Paul Socolar, may be something like the journalist of the future. He is earnest, dedicated to a cause, foundation-financed and, to this point, read by a narrow audience. I=2 0accompanied him to a press briefing for the rollout of the Philadelphia school district’s $3.2 billion budget. He quickly imbibed a thick handout filled with charts and long columns of numbers and jotted down questions, which seemed a bit sharper and harder to answer than those asked by the reporters from the city’s two dailies.

Having known Paul for 15 years, it’s well-deserved kudos to one of the city’s most humble, hard-working and principled journalists and to a paper that’s filling in what traditional media has too often ceded – solid beat coverage with an investigative and spirited mission. Plan Philly and Media Mobilizing Project also earn mentions for coverage in areas where big media has lapsed, namely development and immigration.

But clearly the “star” of the story is PNI’s Brian Tierney, and not always in the most flattering of ways (note: “gentleman’s club” congressional testimony not particularly emblematic of his diplomatic skills).

Philly Progressive Links

We are in the beginning stages of figuring out how to link up various parts of the Philly progressive blog world, in some sort of systematic way. Before we get there though, there are a few sites that I would encourage you to checkout and bookmark, if you haven't.

First, the Media Mobilizing Project has a series of blogs, including from immigrant rights group Juntos, from the Philly Student Union, from progressive Philly Labor, and more. Individually, each site has quite a bit of good stuff. For example, check out this video from Our City, Our Voices, the blog from Juntos, titled "Por Nuestros Hijos, Padres Inmigrantes Organizados/For Our Children, Immigrant Parents Organizing". It talks to a number of immigrant parents about their efforts to organize around their children's schools in South Philly.

Second, and also on the education side, is the Philadelphia Public School Notebook. Len Rieser, of the Education Law Center, explores the lack of input that went into picking the new members of the School Reform Commission (SRC), and whether or not that is still appropriate:

The three people whose appointments to the SRC were unveiled last week are, by all accounts, excellent choices. But why was there absolutely zero public input into the selection process?

The answer is simple. In 2001, then-Secretary of Education Charles Zogby declared Philadelphia to be a District in Distress – sort of like the damsel-in-distress of medieval tales, or the lady tied to the railroad tracks in old westerns. Under Act 88 of 2001, this declaration turned us into the object of a rescue operation, to be carried out by a commission (the SRC) appointed by the state and city. Since rescuers seldom consult with the victim about exactly how s/he would like to be saved, it’s not surprising that Act 88 allowed (and continues to allow) for peremptory, closed-door decision-making along the lines of what we saw last week.

But it’s 7 ½ years later, and time to ask whether rescue mode still makes sense.

State law allowed Secretary Zogby to designate a district as distressed if it was defaulting on its finances, failing to operate for the full school year, out of compliance with state laws, or in some other way doing seriously bad things. While Philly may have met some of these criteria in 2001, it's unclear that any apply now (although, like a number of other districts in this state, we certainly still have big problems).

And third, is SEPTA Watch. In fact, SEPTA Watch is the one blog that I have delivered to me by email, because it is short, to the point, and does something that I think most effective blogs of that sort do: It calls out obviously stupid things as stupid. For example, why is there so much trash at 30th Street? Or, why does the only transit expansion we get go to service casinos, and not say, the Navy Yard or something else?

What Philly-Centric sites are you reading?

Fighting For Libraries And Beyond In 2009

As I've been able to build personal capacity for organizing here in Philadelphia, I have been really honored to work with one of the most shockingly beautiful groups that has come onto the scene in a really long time -- the Media Mobilizing Project. They are focused on two things which we've needed desperately (and in some cases, found) during this struggle to fight the budget cuts and save the libraries here in the city:

1) Building networks of trust among groups, neighbors, and communities in the city, and helping them realize and take action on their shared struggles

and 2) Creating the capacity for those networks to tell each others' stories using their own media and power in existing media outlets throughout the region.

MMP has played pivotal roles in the fight for digital inclusion in this city, in the network building and success of the movements fighting casinos, and in the development of new leaders in the growing labor movement in Philly.

We all have limited budgets this year, but if we are going to win next year's fights to protect and build programs that bring us freedom, power, and justice, we need to support MMP.

Click here to donate to MMP right now, or read their pitch below:

Public Forum on Future of Philly WiFi

Hey all

Media Mobilizing Project, Temple School of Communications and Theatre and a bunch of co-sponsors are hosting a public forum on the future of Philly WiFi on June 3rd. The forum will host a diverse panel of speakers, while including an open space for participants to speak about the future of the wireless Internet initiative

Under Earthlink's management, Philadelphia's wireless network has faced both technical and customer service challenges, weakening public engagement. Now is a vital time to reignite the discussion about the wireless network as Earthlink officials have announced their intention to sell or transfer the 135-square mile network. With new ownership on the horizon, a renewed opportunity exists for Philadelphia's WiFi initiative to serve as a national model for community media. The promise of a city where everyone has the potential to be connected, opens new doors for economic, social and political participation.

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