Art Haywood

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Art Haywood

Backing Brooks and O'Rourke

The Working Families Party spent over $400,000 on Kendra Brooks and Nicolas O'Rourke’s campaigns, and have knocked on 150,000 doors and sent 300,000 text messages.

Both Brooks and O’Rourke see their candidacies as part of a broader push to one day build a progressive majority on the city council, working together with progressive Democrats like Helen Gym to advance priorities including tax reform, affordable housing, tenants’ rights, and continuing to expand rights for retail and service workers. Both candidates are endorsed by progressive groups like the Philadelphia chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, Unite HERE Philadelphia, Make the Road Action in PA, and Sunrise Movement’s Philadelphia chapter.

The two WFP candidates have endorsements from state Reps. Chris Rabb, Elizabeth Fiedler, Malcolm Kenyatta, Movita Johnson-Harrell, Brian Sims, and state Sen. Art Haywood.

“Good Jobs, Education, Healthcare: A Germantown for All”

According to Myke Simonian, writing in the the Peoples World, in January 2018, about twenty residents turned out for a panel discussion titled “Good Jobs, Education, Healthcare: A Germantown for All.” The discussion featured three representatives from Germantown’s Black community: Victoria Greene, Executive Director of E.M.I.R. (Every Murder is Real); Ted Stones, community activist and Democratic Party committeeperson; and Dr. Sheri Faulkner-Davis, Senior Program Director of the Center for Innovation in Worker Organization at Rutgers University. The event was moderated by poet and Communist Party USA member Irving Jones.

Ms. Greene spoke of her organization’s work in supporting those who have lost family members to gun violence in the neighborhood. Over time, E.M.I.R. has developed into a leader on this front. In September, it hosted a conference on gun violence bringing in over 200 participants, including city council members and progressive State Senator Art Haywood.

In his comments, Stones pointed out that, “A young person does not kill another young person because they are better dressed or because of a girl. They do it because they hate themselves. Capitalism has taught our (Black) youth to hate themselves.”

Stones continued, “We need a new, Left, Black leadership. Our current leaders have failed our community. We need to figure out how to unite our diverse, Black community to fight for real power.”

Audience member Seth Anderson-Oberman, political director of the American Federation of Teachers for New Jersey, pointed out that while Germantown is statistically poor, it is home to many local organizations, from churches and mosques to block organizations and civic groups. “Why don’t we take that energy and build a campaign to organize the workplaces in our neighborhood?” [1]

CVS protest

According to Myke Simonian, writing in the the Peoples World, on MLK Day 2018, in front of the CVS pharmacy in Mount Airy. Led by Unitarian Society of Germantown Pastor Kent Matthies, a rallywas held, part of a statewide effort to push CVS to live up to its so-called ‘social commitment’ policy. Speakers included John Meyerson, UFCW 1776 and chair of Raise the Wage Pennsylvania, progressive Democratic State Senator Art Haywood, Rabbi Josh Bolton, and Rev. Matties.

Haywood kicked off the rally, pointing out that in 1964 Dr. King advocated for a $2-an-hour minimum wage. Had that wage kept pace with inflation, he said, it would today be much higher than even the $15 demanded by minimum wage advocates. Haywood also pointed out that CVS will receive $1.5 billion from Trump’s corporate tax cut. “They need to share that with their employees,” he stated. “CVS likes to talk about ‘promoting community health’. Well, $15 per hour is as important to a family’s health as vaccines are. You cannot adequately feed and house a family on $7.25 an hour!”

Meyerson pointed out that this particular CVS is his ‘neighborhood’ store: “I live just around the corner,” he said, “and I see these folks every day. They are courteous, they work hard, and they deserve better.” Regarding Raise the Wage PA’s efforts, Meyerson stated, “It is time we eliminate the Pre-emption Clause that prevents Philadelphia and Pittsburgh from raising our own minimum wage. Pennsylvania has one of the lowest minimum wages in the U.S. ”

Rabbi Bolton centered his comments on the duty to “not remain indifferent to the suffering of others.” Following the Jewish precept to ‘heal a broken world,’ he enjoined CVS to place the welfare of its employees over its corporate ‘bottom line’.

Reverend Matthies closed out the rally with a simple observation: “Paying poverty wages is not promoting health.” He continued: “Prior to this rally, we met with CVS’ leadership and they complained—why us? Everybody out there is doing this. Why target us?!” Matthies smiled as he told the next part of the story, “Well, we said, you know how sometimes the police sit on the side of the road and people are whizzing by, 15, 17, 20 miles over the speed limit? At some point, they gotta pull someone over. They have to start somewhere. And so do we. So today, we’re giving you the ticket for your lack of a moral conscience.”[2]

References

  1. [https://www.peoplesworld.org/article/northwest-philadelphians-say-good-jobs-now/ Peoples World, Northwest Philadelphians say: Good Jobs Now! January 18, 2018 2:52 PM CST BY MYKE SIMONIAN]
  2. [https://www.peoplesworld.org/article/northwest-philadelphians-say-good-jobs-now/ Peoples World, Northwest Philadelphians say: Good Jobs Now! January 18, 2018 2:52 PM CST BY MYKE SIMONIAN]