Major Philly Union Endorses PA State Senate Candidate Paul Prescod

One of Philadelphia’s largest unions backed Paul Prescod, a progressive Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania’s 8th Senate District, joining a growing list of working-class advocates backing the countryside longtime educator and organizer of the labor movement.

“I will be ready to take on the rich interests which hinder the future we deserve.”

“I am delighted to have the approval of the AFSCME 33 District Council! »Prescod said Common dreams. “This 10,000-member union represents the sanitation workers, water utility workers, street cleaners, school crossing guards and others who move the city of Philadelphia forward.”

“These are the essential workers who have suffered so much during this pandemic, and who this campaign is about,” Prescod said.

The Pennsylvania State Senate candidate – an organizer dating back to when he was a student at Temple University, after which he became a public school educator and a member of the Philadelphia Teachers’ Federation – added that “we must protect and develop the public sector, while strengthening our public sector unions.

During word Last month when launching his campaign, Prescod said that “we all got the feeling that we don’t know whether to believe in a candidate running for public office. The most important thing to know about a candidate is what he did before showing up for office. “

Prescod said Common dreams that he has established a strong relationship with District Council 33 of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and other local unions in supporting the fight for risk premiums and personal protection that emerged at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This effort culminated in Philadelphia City Council’s June 2020 passage of the Essential Worker Protection Act, a one-of-a-kind piece of legislation that prevents employers from retaliating against workers who report violations of Covid-19 safety guidelines.

AFSCME District Council 33 President Ernest Garrett said in a statement Monday that “District Council 33 supports Paul Prescod because we believe Paul represents what we strive for every day; fight for the men and women who take the bus early to work, fight for the men and women who struggle to choose between putting food on the table and paying the light bill, and fighting for the men and women who need and deserve decent health care for their families. “

“We know he will fight for us,” added Garrett.

Prescod, member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and editor-in-chief of Jacobin magazine, long ago argued that the fight against racial and economic inequalities depends on strengthening the public sector and organized labor, and he has been intimately involved in this effort for years.

As Prescod said Jacobin in one interview published earlier this month, “Most insurgent left-wing challengers don’t usually get much support from workers because unions often want to support who they think will win. My campaign begins in a unique position where we have already four union supporters, and are looking for and anticipating more.

In supporting Prescod, the AFSCME 33 District Council joined the Federation of Faculty and Staff of the Community College of Philadelphia; the national federation of the Brotherhood of maintenance workers; International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 623; Association of the Temple of University Professionals; and Philly DSA. The American Postal Workers Union Local 89 followed AFSCME 33 District Council in endorsing Prescod, the candidate announcement.

“This is crucial, not just in principle because the trade union movement is important to me, but as a concrete part of the strategy to mobilize non-traditional voters,” Prescod said in early December. “To give an example, I have a strong relationship with Teamsters Local 623, which represents UPS employees. Many of their base members in Southwest Philly, which is in my constituency, generally do not vote. Now they are mobilized to solicit by the union, and they recognize me by their pickets and at their meetings. They see a candidate that their leadership is really enthusiastic about.

“This campaign aims to shift to a public investment model, putting people before profits.”

He added that this “is also going to be a big part of the equation of how we build a progressive labor coalition. We are going to have representations to union members, DSA members and members of other progressive organizations. simple: we’re going to be having in-person conversations over a long period of time to try to galvanize as many people as possible. “

At last month’s launch event, Prescod said, “Above all else, I believe in building a workers’ movement.” He added that “this campaign is about bringing the movement that we have built all these years into the halls of power in Harrisburg.”

“I think we need more educators running for public office,” Prescod said, “because we have a comprehensive view of all the issues we face in our city and state. teachers, we know our students don’t come to us in a vacuum, we know they come to class with the issues around them.

“But you don’t have to be an educator to see that we are in a deep crisis, this city is in a deep crisis,” he added. “I know we all feel it. And the only way out of this crisis is a bold change of direction. A bold new attitude that says we’re not going to agree to these terms anymore.”

Prescod clarified, “We are not going to allow our public schools to collapse. We are not going to allow our school buildings to be infested with asbestos, mold and lead. That children are dying in schools because full time nurses are not there. That the class sizes are 35 to 40 children per class. That our after-school programs are being phased out. “

Notably, Prescod stressed that “we cannot look to the free market to solve this problem.”

Instead, he said, “we need to make a public commitment to our schools. As a legislator, I will not rest until every school in Pennsylvania is fully funded. I won’t rest until every school has beautiful new buildings, has small class sizes, has enough support staff, and has every after-school program a child could dream of. “

Prescod’s campaign underscored the need for a Green New Deal that can unify struggles for economic and environmental justice.

“Our movement says we are not going to sit here and accept that uncontrollable climate change will destroy our lives,” Prescod said. “What do we expect in the future if we keep doing nothing?” “

“We have a huge opportunity here,” he added. “We can create tens of thousands of quality union jobs in the fight against climate change. Think how many jobs we could create if we retrofitted every public school building to be energy efficient. How many jobs could we create if we massively increased public transit and created a high speed rail system we can be proud of. How many jobs could we create if we built high speed Internet access to all rural and urban communities in the Commonwealth of Nations. “

Prescod argued that “the 8th arrondissement can be a leader in the state when it comes to infrastructure. And as a legislator, I will stress that as we move towards a renewable energy future, we are creating union jobs to support families, not weak jobs. salaried jobs. “

“At the heart of this campaign,” Prescod said, “this campaign is about moving to a model of public investment, putting people before profits. A model that says health care is a human right, and we can create a health system that guarantees quality care for all Pennsylvanians. A public investment model that says quality housing is a human right, and we can create beautiful and affordable housing. A model that says paid employment is a human right and it’s time to immediately raise the minimum wage to at least $ 15 an hour. ”

Prescod said Jacobin that he was inspired by the 2016 and 2020 campaigns of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party, in particular the idea that he is a “chief organizer” who uses his power elected to support progressive movements on the ground.

The Pennsylvania State Senate candidate told his audience last month that “my role in public service will not be just to draft laws. It will also be about how I can use this desk to help develop the movements that we will need in the future. When the Teamsters fight UPS, doing everything in my power to tip the scales in favor of workers When … educators fight to save [a] at school, doing everything in my power to make sure they win. “

“This campaign is about bringing the movement we have built all these years into the halls of power in Harrisburg.”

“I will be prepared to take on the rich interests that hinder the future we deserve,” Prescod said.

“But these same rich and powerful interests will support my opponent,” he added. “We are starting a journey that some think is impossible. They think there is no way that a teacher in a public school can face a political dynasty, there is no way to defeat all the money of the companies that they will spend to defeat us. “

Prescod admitted that “I’m not only against the incumbent, I’m also against his backers. People like Jeffrey Yass, a billionaire who invests money in privatizing schools, who puts money in far-right projects across the state, loved by Betsy DeVosses around the world. “

“They are going to rely on the money to buy this election, but we are going to rely on the people,” he said. “We’re going to win by organizing, we’re going to win by talking to our neighbors, we’re going to win by knocking on doors, we’re going to win by volunteering. The driving force behind this campaign is the ordinary working and middle class. – classy people like you. “

“I have witnessed the profound inequality that affects our state and our cities,” Prescod, a longtime resident of West Philadelphia, said on his campaign site, which includes more information about its platform and ways to get involved. “Workers need more, and I am running for the Pennsylvania State Senate to fight for the future we deserve.”

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