POWER Campaign to Impress Center City Council: the 1st Step on the Airport Expansion MUST be a Jobs Agreement

Working on the 10,000 jobs campaign, POWER congregations across the City are looking towards a series of mid-June actions: City Council needs to make sure a jobs agreement is its first commitment in the airport expansion project.

Since City Council is organized geographically, these actions are being organized by regional clusters of POWER congregations. Old First falls with 8 other congregations in the Center City Cluster. We are targeting our 4 representatives in City Council — Councilmen Green, Greenlee, Oh and Squilla.

We want their public commitment — jobs created by the airport expansion project (and other major public works initiatives) must benefit the residents of Philadelphia, particularly people for whom finding work is the biggest challenge. We can accomplish that with a Jobs Agreement that stretches the city to do better — bringing down jobs in particular for people who need and want to work.

As “the ramp up” to that meeting, Old First and the other congregations are initiating a post card drive. We want our 4 Councilman to know: these 9 congregations are getting people to pay attention — is City Council making sure that the jobs at the airport go to Philadelphians who need them most?

How will we impress our councilmen?

The 9 Center City Cluster congregations are first going to get 2400 post cards signed by their members and friends by Monday, May 14, the day after Mother’s Day. These post cards will show that our members and friends are aware of POWER’s asking our 4 Councilmen:

1) Will you be with us at our June action?

2) Will you promise to delay any City Council’s approval of land acquisition or a bond issue for the airport expansion until there is a JOBS AGREEMENT in place?

On Monday, May 14, delegations from our congregations will be making brief visits to the Councilmen, to drop of the post cards, deliver the flowers from our sanctuaries and worship services that previous weekend, and provide the councilmen with a brief summary of POWER’s Jobs Campaign.

At our mid-June action, with our 4 Councilmen and at least 500 people from our congregations and community present, we will be even more hard-hitting– impressing upon them the need and the difference that jobs can make for our city.

Old First folks will join with leaders from Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church and Arch Street United Methodist Church to drop off over 1,000 post cards with Councilman Squilla.

Stirling and Michael committed Old First to getting 400 post cards signed by Monday, May 14. How are we going to meet that goal?

Stirling will make a mission moment presentation in worship on Sunday, April 15, presenting the need and the challenge.

Cards will be available on Sundays, April 22, April 29 and May 6.

In worship on April 22, we will have an auction of sorts: who will commit to getting the most cards signed? We’re not just interested in residents of these councilmen’s districts, or members of our church! Our goal is to organize public support — the people of our congregations and everyone else our members associate with! — EVERYONE who wants to see unemployed Philadelphians get work.

The POWER motto for the jobs campaign has become, in the voice of the unemployed, “Put me to work. And our city will work.”

People may sign post cards on Sundays at church.

But we are asking individuals to also commit to taking post cards, getting others to sign them and return them to church. Start thinking now– who in your networks of family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, acquaintances cares enough about our city to watch to make sure City Council works for jobs?

We will collect signed post cards in worship on Sunday, May 6 and 13. And leaders from Old First will join with leaders from Mother Bethel and Arch St. UMC to deliver them and impress on Councilman Squilla what a difference jobs could make for our city.

And we will turn out — as members of Old First and as our associates — at least 500 people at that mid-June action to make sure that our councilmen make a public commitment to getting a jobs agreement in place as the city council’s first step in the airport expansion project!

Folks, this is community organizing. It’s empowering people to make a difference in our political processes by holding our leaders accountable. It not easy. It involves our commitment and work. But to be effective, it’s also got to be inspiring, hopeful, engaging, effective AND full of spirit. Watch and see!