Last week, professors joined workers, community members and students who have been waging an 8-month contract battle with Utrecht Art Supplies, a conglomerate of Blick Art Materials. The activists served management with a petition demanding that Utrecht move forward on a contract and supporting the workers’ right to unionize and earn fair pay.
Murphy Prof. Stephanie Luce explained the struggles of low-wage workers, many of whom are students, in work environment like Utrecht’s:
“A lot of the students have a hard time just covering their tuition because they work in these low-wage jobs…They also work at a lot of jobs that have unpredictable schedules so it’s even hard for them to make it to class.”
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Photo via rwdsu.info.
Photo by Thomas Altfather Good via flickr (CC-BY-ND).
By Steve Brier
In the latest ominous sign of the ramping up of the neoliberal agenda to undermine public funding for public institutions, the state-appointed Philadelphia School Reform Commission (PSRC), which has managerial control over the city’s public school system and its 130,000 students, on October 6th unilaterally cancelled the longstanding contract it had with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT), as reported earlier on the Murphy Institute blog.
This public school crisis was the result of decades of systematic underfunding of public institutions by the state of Pennsylvania, which is now firmly in the political hands of Republicans — especially the reactionary Governor Tom Corbett, who cut close to $1 billion from the state’s education budget over the past few years.
While the city’s teachers are understandably dispirited by the cancellation of their contract, the schools’ students and parents are helping them fight back. One parent criticized the PSRC for trying to have teachers underwrite their own health care costs, concluding that this was tantamount to “robbing the children.”
Students have refused to remain idle in the face of this struggle, using social media like Twitter and Facebook to organize a walkout and a series of mass demonstrations in support of their teachers. Continue reading Students Fight Back in Philadelphia