City Councilmen Johnson and Jones Vow to Support POWER's Jobs Bill
City-wide, interfaith group readies for second Forum Tuesday, aims for similar commitments from Councilmen Green, Oh and Squilla
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - June 6, 2012
On Tuesday, June 5th, more than 200 members and allies of the interfaith group POWER convened at Grace Christian Fellowship Church in Southwest Philadelphia to highlight the pain of unemployment in city neighborhoods and to urge two City Council members to co-sponsor legislation that would prioritize city residents on jobs to be created by the $6 Billion Philadelphia International Airport expansion project and other large, subsidized projects. Click here for photos of event. POWER congregations located in West and South Philadelphia lead the event, the first of four to be held in June in different parts of the city.
4th District Councilman, and Majority Leader, Curtis Jones, and 2nd District Councilman Kenyatta Johnson (whose District covers the Airport) committed to the spirited and racially diverse crowd that they would support legislation incorporating POWER’s “economic justice principles” related to Airport and other jobs.
The group presented their research on successful jobs policies from other cities, the recent rise of poverty and growing gap between city and suburbs, and testimonies from congregants who have experienced long-term unemployment. The two Councilmembers then each gave an unequivocal “yes” to the question of whether they would work with POWER on legislation to address the city’s jobs crisis. “This is an inspiring event; sign me up for POWER’s Economic Justice Principles” said Councilman Kenyatta Johnson. Majority Leader Jones commented that “we must control the jobs in our community” to overcome poverty.
Chanel Alexander, of Grace Christian Fellowship Church, framed the event with her own story of downsizing and underemployment. “I know many of you have experienced the pain of joblessness that I have, and worse.”
Rev. Cean James spoke to the need for policy change to correct the imbalance of unequal opportunity and resources in the region. “The time for our City Councilmembers to lead is now”, said James, pastor of Grace Christian Fellowship, located at 62nd and Grays Avenue and which hosted the event.
Last night’s event was the first of four Economic Justice Forums POWER will conduct throughout the city in June. At each Forum, POWER congregations aim to secure similar commitments to co-sponsor jobs legislation from different sets of City Councilmembers. The next Forum will take place:
When: Tuesday, June 12th at 7 p.m.
Where: Congregation Rodeph Shalom, 615 N. Broad St.
Confirmed City Councilmembers:
- Councilman-at-Large William Green
- Councilman-at-Large David Oh
- 1st District Councilman Mark Squilla
POWER is Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower & Rebuild and is comprised of 37 dues-paying member congregations from across the city, representing Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith traditions. POWER was formally launched in Fall 2011 when it brought together more than 2,000 of its members and allies for its Founding Convention. POWER’s goal is to build the capacity and social capital of member congregations, and build relationships across lines which have divided Philadelphians for decades, in order to build power to promote policy change for the common good. POWER is a member of the PICO National Network (www.piconetwork.org).
POWER’s Economic Justice Campaign aims to promote policies that would result in putting 10,000 Philadelphians back to work and is rooted in successful policy change campaigns from other cities. Click here to read about a similar, successful campaign in Los Angeles. In addition to increased access to jobs, POWER congregations are working on immigration and public school reform issues, as well as anti-violence measures.