Ken Johnson of Germantown is well aware unemployment is high in his community.
He could easily name a dozen of those in his circle who do not have jobs — relatives, neighbors and colleagues. Johnson was glad his work was able to help fill his car at the gas station at Rittenhouse and Wayne. Yet he knows others are not as fortunate.
“Folks just need jobs, and they need jobs now — period,” Johnson said.
Consequently, when the non-profit group POWER (Philadelphia Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild) meets for their Northwest Philadelphia session this week, “jobs” will top the agenda.
This is the third of four regional meetings around the city that are part of POWER’s June Economic Justice Forums. The Northwest meeting will be held at St. Raymond of Penafort Catholic Church, Vernon Road and Williams Avenue in the city’s Stenton neighborhood adjacent to East Mt. Airy, on Monday, June 18 at 7 p.m.
“What if none of the estimated 45,000 jobs to be created by the $6 billion Philadelphia Airport expansion project go to the unemployed folks in our poorest neighborhoods?” asked the POWER officers in their open letter to the community. The local chapter is organized by David Kippish and Wes Lathrop. “Unless people of faith and their allies organize to make it otherwise, this could happen.”
This month’s forums will mirror similar economic justice sessions held in Los Angeles earlier this year. Members of City Council have been invited to attend the June 18 Northwest Philadelphia session, according to Father Christopher M. Walsh, pastor of St. Raymond’s Church.
The first of these month sessions was held at the Grace Christian Fellowship Church in Southwest Philadelphia on June 5. This was followed by a June 12 Center City session. The final session will take place at the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Northeast Philadelphia on Wednesday, June 20 at 7 p.m.
These sessions come on the heels of the U.S. Department of Labor May jobs report released on Friday, June 1.
House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer, Md., was quick to attribute the higher unemployment rate to partisan politics on Capitol Hill.
“This morning’s job report shows that Congressional Republicans’ do-nothing, confrontation over compromise approach to jobs isn’t working,” Hoyer said. “While we continued to see the private sector add jobs for the 28th straight month, our unemployment rate has slipped back up to 8.2 percent from the three-year record low of 8.1 percent last month.
“Republicans show no sign of changing the course to focus on jobs,” he said. “House Republican’s summer legislative agenda makes no mention of job creating legislation, promising to buck their responsibility on jobs for several additional months. This is deeply disappointing, as we were able to work together in May to pass bipartisan reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, which is a component of Democrats’ Make It In America plan for creating jobs and boosting economic competiveness. (We) ought to revisit the spirit of bipartisanship and work with us pass other Make It In America bills soon so we can get more Americans back to work.”