Baggage Handlers Picket at PHL Airport

A group of baggage handlers have been picketing at Philadelphia International Airport since this morning.

Though the Pennsylvania director of SEIU 32BJ called the action a strike, Philly.com reports no flights appear to be affected. The airport previously said airlines have a contingency plan in case of a strike. The striking workers are employees of PrimeFlight, an airline contractor, working in ground transportation at the airport (baggage handling, wheelchair transport, curbside check-in, etc.).

The non-union workers make as little as the federal minimum wage, $7.25 an hour. The minimum wage hike for city contractors Michael Nutter ordered in May does not apply to the PrimeFlight workers. Read more »

WATCH: New Video Shows SRC Member Telling Kids They Are “Probably in Failing Schools”

A new video of a member of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission clearly shows her telling protesting students that they are “probably in failing schools.” Sylvia Simms has previously denied the accusation from the students.

Last month, students protested a screening of the pro-charter school drama Won’t Back Down Simms hosted. After students interrupted the screening with clapping and chanting, they said Simms told them they “belong in jail” and that they’re “probably in failing schools.”

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23 Best Signs From the Philadelphia Teachers’ Protest

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Thousands of teachers jammed Broad Street before a meeting of the School Reform Commission late Thursday afternoon, protesting the SRC’s unilateral cancellation of teachers’ contracts last week.

Speakers at the protest spent a few hours railing against the SRC, Bill Green, Gov. Tom Corbett, and SRC member Sylvia Simms — who students said told them they “belong in jail” at a movie screening Simms hosted Wednesday night. There were many signs supporting Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf, Gov. Corbett’s opponent in next month’s election.

The speakers also had strong words for the counter-protesters hired by the Commonwealth Foundation, who were also demonstrating near the front of the School District building.

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Students: School Reform Commission Member Told Us ‘You Belong in Jail’

Philadelphia School Reform Commission member Sylvia Simms lashed out at student protesters at a movie screening last night. As seen in the above video posted to YouTube by Waleed Shahid, students clapped and interrupted the screening with chants of “Philly is a union town” and “The SRC has got to go.”

The students — part of Philly Students Union, a student-led group advocating for better school conditions — disrupted a film screening hosted by Simms. Those students say Simms told them “y’all probably go to failing schools.” Al Dia reports she also said, “You belong in jail.”

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Anti-Abortion Group to Broadcast Videos of Abortions on Independence Mall

Images of bloody, dead fetuses will be projected on a 10 foot by 12 foot screen at Independence Mall on Friday, as part of an anti-abortion protest. The group received a permit for all day, but the images are scheduled to run on a constant loop from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Created Equal, an Ohio-based anti-abortion group that compares its stance to Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement on its website, is holding the rally. “It seems fitting to me that we are launching this campaign in the very place where our nation’s founders penned those words, created equal,” Mark Harrington, Created Equal’s national director, told the Inquirer. “We are still battling for equal rights. In this case, it is the pre-born who are being discriminated against.”

The group also said it would project videos of “abortions in progress” on the screen.

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Ferguson Protest: Tourists Pose With “Dead” Teen at LOVE Park

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On Saturday afternoon, Juilliard theater student Lee Edward Colston and Carver High School of Engineering and Science graduate Keith Wallace, among others, staged a silent Ferguson protest at iconic LOVE Park in Philadelphia, a popular destination with tourists for photo opportunities. And with Wallace — an MFA acting student at the University of California who is home on summer break — lying on the ground portraying Michael Brown, the unarmed teen shot dead by Ferguson police, the tourists continued snapping their smiley photos. Read more »

Philly Fast Food Workers Rally for Higher Wages

Except for the Dunkin Donuts in The Gallery — the greatest Dunkin Donuts in all of Philadelphia — fast food service is notoriously awful. But the more I think about it, the more I think that should be the case. It’s not that fast food has to be an especially demeaning or terrible job, though I’m sure it can be. But making minimum wage for years and dealing with obnoxious fast food customers? I don’t know.

Yesterday, fast food workers from the area joined others around the country in rallying for higher wages. Minimum wage in Pennsylvania is currently $7.25 an hour. KYW 1060’s Cherri Gregg reported from a rally in North Philly:

Javier Mulet says he’s not afraid to speak out. The four-year Dunkin’ Donuts veteran makes $7.45 an hour and says he stood up against management when they demanded that employees give up their tips after their store was robbed.

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PHOTOS: The LOVE Park Trayvon Martin Rally

On Sunday, Philadelphians gathered throughout the course of the day at LOVE Park to voice their anger about the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial. In a series of impassioned speeches by activists in the African American community (including Paula Peebles  chair of the Philadelphia National Action Network, fifth photo, and radio host/political consultant Mannwell Glenn) , attendees were encouraged to fight for justice and to make an economic impact by boycotting products from Florida.

At one point, a second group chanting “Fired up, can’t take no more,” marched up to join the group already assembled, approximately doubling the head count.

Signs at the rally ranged from hopeful to outraged.

(All photos | Brian Howard)

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First Lady Michelle Obama Has the Right to Defend Herself

There was a considerable amount of copy last week devoted to the story of First Lady Michelle Obama and the Heckler. Ellen Sturtz, the heckler, attended a private fundraiser on behalf of LGBT civil rights group Get Equal. Sturtz interrupted Obama, the invited guest for the $500-per-ticket event, throughout her remarks, demanding that President Obama sign the Employment Non-Discrimination Act on behalf of the LGBT community.

The First Lady handled the situation deftly, approaching Sturtz and replying, “One of the things I don’t do well is this, do you understand? Listen to me or you can take the mic, but I’m leaving. You all decide. You have a choice.”

And in this impromptu game of political survivor, the crowd quickly sided with the First Lady, and Sturtz was voted off the island. Read more »

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