Philly Socialist Alternative to Kenney and Council: #MakeAmazonPay

As soon as Amazon announced its intention to build a second corporate headquarters outside Seattle, elected officials from across the nation predictably responded to its ‘request for proposals’ by tripping over each other in a race to offer massive public subsidies and tax incentives to woo Amazon. Philadelphia’s elected officials from both the Democratic and Republican Parties have behaved no differently.

Last week, Mayor Jim Kenney slavishly tweeted, “We think Philadelphia would be a PRIME location for Amazon that would make people SMILE! Look forward to submitting a proposal!”

This week, the Kenney administration had taxpayers buy a plane ticket for a city envoy to visit Seattle and “help understand Amazon culture” and demonstrate our city is “serious about competing for the headquarters.”

 At-Large Republican Councilman David Oh introduced a bill to City Council on Thursday that “reduces the business net income tax to zero” of relocating “mega-businesses” like Amazon that employ over 50,000 workers.

Amazon is worth $460 billion, and its CEO Jeff Bezos will soon be the wealthiest man in the world. Bezos’ personal net worth is $84.4 billion dollars. He is one of 8 men who control half of the world’s wealth. Bezos and Amazon have accrued this massive wealth by ruthlessly exploiting workers in the US and abroad, crushing attempts to unionize, using its monopoly power to gobble up real estate and push up land value and housing costs in Seattle, and pushing small business owners out of markets.

In any city it expands to, Bezos and Amazon can afford to pay business taxes, income taxes, and property taxes. They can also afford to pay decent wages, and provide healthcare benefits and pensions for all of their workers. Instead of ‘wooing’ Amazon here with the promise of low wages, subsidies and tax breaks, Philadelphia’s political establishment should be taking the fight for a $15hour minimum wage, statewide single payer healthcare, and full funding for our schools to Harrisburg and DC. As badly as we need to address structural unemployment and poverty in Philly, spending millions of public dollars in exchange for a ‘promise’ to bring thousands of low wage, part time, dead end jobs will only result in increased corporate profits at our expense.

We need to stop to the nationwide corporate tax rate race-to-the-bottom. When cities compete against each other to offer corporations like Comcast and Amazon tax incentives, the big losers are our own residents. One third of Philadelphians live in poverty and our schools face enormous budget deficits. SEPTA is unreliable and one of the most expensive public transit system in the country. Public housing is being cut while gentrification and a shortage of affordable housing is pushing us out of our neighborhoods and threatening low-income residents all over the city. Should we really be competing with Chicago, Denver and Baltimore over who can give Amazon the most public money?

When establishment politicians like Mayor Kenney and Councilman David Oh offer public money that should be going to schools, housing, and city services to wealthy corporations for private profit, it is clear they stand with corporations and not with working class people.

Building power and organization outside the Democratic Party. 

In Seattle, Socialist Alternative City Council member Kshama Sawant,  led the fights that passed a $15 minimum wage and a tax on the wealthy. Sawant and SA are now building a coalition to campaign for affordable housing and supporting the independent Seattle City Council campaign of DSA member John Grant.

In Minneapolis coming off of the recent win for $15 minimum wage, Socialist Alternative member Ginger Jentzen is running for city council as an independent on a platform of tenants rights, affordable housing, taxing the rich to fund city services, and resisting the Trump agenda.

In Philly, we are working to build real alternatives to the establishment political machines. We need independent organizations of our own to fight back against corporate hegemony and poverty in our city. We need a political party of the 99% that can run independent candidates for local offices, and not just any candidates but fighting, accountable, independent candidates that take no corporate cash.

Yo Kenney! Say NO to Amazon’s economic coercion and demand better for our workers for the right to do business in our city:

  • A moratorium on state and local public tax subsides to corporate profits
  • A $15 minimum wage
  • For permanent full-time jobs with a future
  • Free higher education and job training
  • Free on site childcare options for employees
  • Full union rights for all employees  
  • for a tax on the wealthy to fund public schools, public transit and affordable housing.

 

“The solution is in no way to turn away from technological innovation, the logic of economies of scale, or ease of access to goods and services. Instead, we need to unionize, and to take these behemoths into democratic public ownership, so that they are run not for profit for a few, but in the interests of the majority of working people and of society. However, this can be achieved only by building powerful movements that are independent of the politicians and parties that have aided and abetted corporations like Amazon. In Seattle, our movements need to continue to build the fight to end homelessness, make housing affordable for all, and fully fund social services.” – Kshama Sawant Seattle City Council

#MakeAmazonPay

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Vote Cheri Honkala!

For an independent progressive voice in Harrisburg!

Socialist Alternative calls for a vote for Cheri Honkala in the PA197th Special Election tomorrow!

Voters in North Philly’s 197th House District will vote in a special election tomorrow to replace Democrat Leslie Acosta who was forced to step down after pleading guilty to felony embezzlement in 2016. Acosta is the second Democrat in a row to resign the seat due to corruption.

The Democratic Party nominated Freddy Ramirez to run for the open seat but he was kicked off the ballot for not living in the district, leaving Republican Lucinda Little as the only candidate listed on the ballot. This sordid tale of incompetence and corruption has left this heavily Democratic District up for grabs while the hard right is actively  pushing Trumps agenda at a state level. 

At a time when we have been arguing for building the broadest possible united movement to resist Trumps agenda, the Democrats in the 197th are crashing and burning – fielding no less than 4 write in candidates for the seat including the ‘official’ candidate Emilio Vazquez!

Is this a political party we can depend on to defend us against serious attacks on immigrants, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, worker safety, healthcare, pensions, jobs, public services, wages, education, environmental protections and more?

In the middle of this madness there is one independent candidate with a consistent track record of fighting for the working class citizens of the 197th. Green Party member Cheri Honkala is running a write in campaign for the seat. Pledging to use her office to fight the right, but also to advance a progressive working class agenda including a $15hour minimum wage, and linking movement building to winning real reforms.

While Socialist Alternative has some political, tactical, and strategic disagreements with the Green Party – we call for a new party of the 99% that bases itself on the interests of working people – we think that the Greens can play an important role in bringing about a new party, and Socialist Alternative stands ready to help build any and all movements to take on corporate domination of our society.

The need has never been greater to start building a real political alternative to the corrupt pro business parties. At a time when the right wing is on the move, a strong vote for Cheri will send an independent progressive voice to Harrisburg, send a clear message to Washington that we are ready and willing to fight back, and advance the struggle to build a new independent party of the 99%

Cheri’s Program:

  • Food for All
  • Housing for All
  • Healthcare for All –Inclusive of Mental Health
  • Full Living-Wage Employment. $15 an hour!
  • Fund Public Education
  • Allow Immigrants to Stay in Pennsylvania
  • Protect our Water & Land — and Our Children’s Future.
  • Legalize Marijuana and Expungement of Criminal Records
  • Zero-Tolerance for Police Brutality
  • All Public Prisons with Community Input
  • Restore Faith in Our Elections and Voting Systems
  • Pay Equity for Women and Paid Family & Maternity Leave
  • Protect our Water & Land — and Our Children’s Future.
  • Equal Rights and Opportunities for LGBTQIA+ Pennsylvanians

Vote Cheri Honkala!

Dissolve The SRC – Not The Teachers Union Contract!

Shame On The SRC!

For A One Day CityWide Strike To Defend Our Teachers

Local Control Of Our Schools Now!

Since the 2001 state takeover that created the School Reform Commission, the  SRC  has led the Philadelphia School District into debt, disarray, and privatization, closing schools, cutting student and family services, and laying off teachers and support staff. We have gone from crisis to crisis, bringing the system no closer to solvency, or to meeting the basic needs of Philly’s working class families. At the same time we have paid the commission’s CEO and senior staff hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in bloated salaries and perks.

The city and school district are bleeding money to Wall Street banks and charter school management companies, while our elected officials refuse to tax the huge corporations and real estate developers  earning hefty profits in Pennsylvania. Instead, the response of the SRC is to demand ‘cost savings’  from all its employees to fill the gaping holes left in the school budget by the drastic cuts in federal and state education funding.

In addition to the ongoing, permanent, school budget ‘crisis’, the SRC claims a mandate to reform public education in Philadelphia and has demanded sweeping changes in contract language affecting job protection and work rules for school district workers. In its public statements the SRC claims it wants to make these changes to allow it to ‘keep the good teachers’ and put more resources into the classroom. But the ‘reforms’ that the SRC has demanded include gutting contract language that sets maximum class sizes, teacher prep time, staff to student ratios for school nurses, librarians, and counselors, and minimum health standards requiring clean and private examination rooms for school nurses and students, restrooms, and working drinking fountains. By ‘dissolving’ the teachers contract all these obstacles to ‘reform’ are now wiped away but none of the structural problems of school funding have been solved.

These cuts to the Philly public schools and the brazen attack on teachers and staff have never been about ‘education reform’ or the alleged  lack of available resources, but are all about the priorities of the 1% and their politicians in DC, Philadelphia and Harrisburg. Their corporate vision of education reform is all about abandoning the basic principles of public education,  lowering the expectations of working class youth, training them for low wage jobs, and turning our schools into another revenue stream to line their pockets at our expense.

For the last 13 years, all attempts by student, community, and teacher activists to fight for full funding for our schools and meaningful education reforms that addresses the needs of Philly’s working class neighborhoods have been ignored and repressed by the unelected SRC. A succession of Democratic and Republican mayors and governors have continually pressured the school district to ‘reform’ the teachers contract. These pro-business politicians and corporate education reformers play a shell game, hiding behind each other, avoiding any  accountability for the state of our neighborhoods and schools. The SRC appointees have enjoyed the luxury of ignoring us because they answer only to the politicians, while the politicians claim that they would like to help but there is no money, no options, and their hands are tied by Harrisburg and Act 46.

Now is the time to demand real education reform in Philly. Significant changes will not come unless we are willing to take bold and creative action to stop the assault on public education.  The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers can lead a successful fight to defend public education and make real gains in  shaping our schools to meet our needs but it will require mobilizing teachers, staff, parents, students and the broader community behind a clear agenda to challenge the corporate ‘reformers’. We cannot depend on the Democratic Party politicians who have run this city for 60 years to save us. We need to build a mass independent working class movement willing to challenge the Democrats and Republicans for political power and fight for our agenda.

  • We need local control now! Dissolve the SRC and establish a democratically elected School Board.
  • Full Funding Now! Make the 1% Pay! Close the loopholes, corporate subsidies and tax abatements!
  • No more Cuts! No more privatization! No more school closings! No more layoffs!
  • No more fake ‘reforms’ that implement austerity and attack students, teachers and the quality of life for working class families in Philly.
  • We demand a real community dialogue on what we want and need from our schools and who is paying for them.
  • Defend Philly Teachers! An injury to one is an injury to all!

All Out In Solidarity

Support Philadelphia Teachers

Thursday Oct 16th 4pm

School District HQ – 440 N Broad