Author Archives: Joe Doc

Pols On The Street: John Kane TV Ads Stress Family

John Kane launched his first television ad of the State Senate campaign running on broadcast and cable TV, and on the internet. The ad features John’s family, including his wife of 24 years, Lori; his daughters Gabby, 17, Sam, 22, and Maddie, 14; and his son Johnny, 20, literally inviting viewers into meeting his family. A plus effort.

In the ad, Kane says he is running for State Senate to “put back the $1 billion Corbett cut from education and make sure corporations and natural-gas drillers pay their fair share.” Kane goes on to say, “It’s time to close to loopholes for the tax cheats.”

The ad can be viewed at: http://youtube/J4E16ur54ds.

“I am incredibly proud of this ad, and so happy that my family was able to join me in making it,” said Kane. “As I cross the district, knocking on doors and talking to voters, I hear over and over again that people are angry that their schools are not getting the funding they need and their property taxes are going up, while corporations and shale drillers are getting sweetheart deals.”

Kane is the Democrat running for State Senate in the 26th Dist. that lies in Delaware and Chester Cos. His opponent is Tom McGarrigle, County Council Chairman. The 26th Dist. is viewed as the most-competitive legislative race in Pennsylvania this year. The seat is held by Republican State Sen. Edwin “Ted Erickson” who is retiring.

Source: http://www.phillyrecord.com/2014/09/pols-on-the-street-kane-tv-ads-stress-family/

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PhillyLabor.com Editorial – John Kane is the labor endorsed candidate for state Senate in the 26th Senatorial District, which includes parts of Chester and Delaware Counties, who will bring a perpetual voice for working families to Harrisburg. Too often, working people support candidates who forget where they come from when they get in office. This will certainly not be the case with John Kane because, as Business Manager of Plumbers Local 690, John is already a voice for working people everyday. This is an opportunity to elect him and send him to Harrisburg and give him the opportunity to have a seat at the table to represent the needs and rights of ALL working men and woman throughout PA.

In order to accomplish our objectives and protect our rights as working men and women now and for years to come, we need a strong showing at the pols. Thus, on election day, Nov 4, 2014, get out to the pols and vote for John Kane and other labor endorsed candidates like your union livelihood depends on it BECAUSE IT DOES!

See Below for links to John Kane’s platform and endorsements:

John Kane Platform – http://phillylabor.com/plumbers-business-manager-john-kane-candidate-for-pa-state-senate-seat-introduces-platform/

PA. AFL-CIO Endorsed Candidates – http://phillylabor.com/pa-afl-cio-announces-endorsements-for-2014-general-election/

Philadelphia Building Trades Endorse Plumbers Local 690, Business Manager, John I. Kane For Pa. State Senate – http://phillylabor.com/philadelphia-building-trades-endorse-plumbers-local-690-business-manager-john-i-kane-for-pa-state-senate/

Press Release: Philadelphians Denied the Chance to Vote for Local Control

Coalition demands vote on education charter amendment

By The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers

- Today, Philadelphia City Council failed to heed the call of 40,000 Philadelphians who have signed a petition to amend the City Charter to demand local control of the School District of Philadelphia. After a PA Working Families press conference this morning, announcing an expected council vote on a ballot measure demanding the General Assembly abolish the School Reform Commission and return Philadelphia schools to local control, Council tabled the resolution, denying Philadelphians the chance to vote on the first-ever citizen-initiated ballot question in November.

“PFT members have been at the forefront of the effort to give Philadelphia’s citizens the power to determine what happens in our children’s schools,” said Philadelphia Federation of Teachers president Jerry Jordan. “We surveyed over 3,000 Philadelphia residents and our members collected over 17,000 signatures to get local control on the ballot in November. City Council’s failure to vote on this measure is a disappointing setback, but we will keep fighting to bring our schools under local control.”

“Philadelphians from all walks of life came together to say they want a chance to have a voice in their schools. Council needs to listen to their voices and vote immediately to place the local control charter amendment on the ballot.” said Pat Eiding, President, Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO

“We went to City Council today to say that Harrisburg should fund our schools—and Philadelphia should run them. City Council put up a responsible vote to add local funding by taxing cigarettes, and Harrisburg hasn’t even scheduled a vote to approve that—it’s time for us to get a vote on taking back local control of our schools,” said Kati Sipp, director of Pennsylvania Working Families

“1199c members support a local voice in Philadelphia’s schools. Health care workers know the importance of dignity and decision-making. We want Council to show some courage in securing the health of our children’s education by approving the local control ballot measure.” said Henry Nicholas, President of District 1199c.

PA Working Families has been part of a historic 10-month long campaign gathering 40,000 signatures in favor of letting the entire city vote on local control of Philadelphia schools. Canvassers with PA Working Families, Fight for Philly, SEIU 32BJ, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, PCAPS, and others have been collecting signatures since April, turning in 40,000 signatures to Council in May. The last step in bringing the question of local control to all the voters of the city is Council approving the ballot question.

“We filed 40,000 signatures months ago. Now, time is of the essence for Council to vote to put local control on the ballot in November,” said Gabe Morgan, PA Director of 32BJ SEIU. “There is no good reason for Council to delay. The future of Philadelphia schools is too important to put on hold.”

Pennsylvania Working Families is an independent political organization standing up for Pennsylvania’s working class and middle class families.

Source:https://www.facebook.com/notes/philadelphia-federation-of-teachers/press-release-philadelphians-denied-the-chance-to-vote-for-local-control/890370414326370

Through Union Ties: Remembering 9/11 Victim Peter Ortale

- Today, and every year on September 11th, as we remember and pray for the all of victims and the families who lost loved ones on 911, It is my privilege to share a personal tribute to an old classmate and teammate of mine from my time at Penn Charter H.S, Peter Ortale. Although, I only spent one year with Peter at P.C., we became pretty good buddies. We played freshman football together, we had some of the same classes together and, for a brief time, we were on the wrestling team together. Maybe we got along so well because we came from similar union backgrounds, as my father, Joe, and Peter’s uncle, Pete McDonough, were both union iron workers out of Iron Worker’s Local 401 (which is the union that I would eventually join) and ironically, they would also both serve together as union officials at 401 years later.

When I think back to the brief time we spent together in the days of our early youth, I still have several fond memories of Peter; I remember he was a good student in the classroom, a fierce competitor on the athletic fields and he was a really cool guy who was easy to hang out with. However, the 2 things that I remember most about Peter Ortale, were his smilish grin and his positive energy. He was always up beat. No matter the situation, he was a smiling face that you could depend on to brighten up even the worst of days.

Case in point, the Freshman year wrestling team. Pete and I had just finished playing football in the Fall and I personally had looked forward to having the winter season off before baseball tryouts in the Spring. Unfortunately, the wrestling coach at the time, Mr. Mellor, had other plans for me and Pete when he approached us in the hallway and recruited us to fill the voids on the freshman wrestling team at the 147 LB and the 139lb weight classes. Well, as much as I didn’t want to do it, Peter was pretty persistent in his efforts to convince me that, for some reason, it was a good thing. I remember telling him, Pete, there’s one thing your forgetting, the wrestling season starts in like one week and neither one of us has ever wrestled a day in our lives. Are you crazy? Well, Pete somehow persuaded me to give it a shot and I wish I could tell you that the rest is history and we both went on to have stellar high school, college then Olympic wrestling careers but this is not ESPN or the Biography Channel and this sports moment had a much different, albeit more humorous conclusion.

The next thing you know we were struggling at our first wrestling practices, which by the way, were so hard that they made football practices seem like a day at the beach. Finally, after a week of the practices from hell, it was the day of the big first match and we sat next to each other on the chairs watching, talking and waiting for our turn to wrestle. We were competing against the number one wrestling team in the public league, Simon Gratz, and from what I remember, it was a real tough match. We won some of the early matches and we lost some. Anyway, finally it came down to the last two matches, Pete’s and mine. Pete went first and he used his athletic ability to wrap up and pin his opponent in the middle of the second period just like that. It was awesome. I was thinking man, that doesn’t look too hard. I can do that! Well, as it was, the fate of my short lived wrestling career would take a vastly different turn than Peter’s as I went out on to the mat on that cold winter day and gave it the best 47 seconds of my life. Ultimately, I ended up in some kind of pretzel move that had me staring face to face with my lower extremities LOL! I remember when I got back to the bench, I was pretty dejected and Pete was the first to greet me with a pat on the back and encouragement saying that it was OK and that I almost had the guy or something like that!!! It was classic Peter Ortale, exactly the way I remember him. He didn’t want me to feel bad about myself.

After my freshman year, I transferred to Roman Catholic HS and Peter stayed at Penn Charter and we saw each other only occasionally at H.S. sporting events and he was always the same great guy that gave you a warm hello and friendly smile. After high school, we kept in touch only via well wishes at the union hall through his uncle Pete McDonough, Hey Pete, Tell Peter I said, hi! Hey Joey, Peter Ortale said to say hello!

The last time I saw him, I ran into him randomly outside the Cottman Mall in Northeast Philadelphia and we talked about old times and mutual friends from Penn charter for about 15 minutes like time had never skipped a beat. As we said our good byes, I can still remember his warm and comforting smile that once again made you feel better for the experience.

Peter Ortale was 37 and working for Euro Brokers on the 84th floor of the South Tower on Sept. 11, 2001. After the attack, he made three phone calls: to his wife, his mother and a friend in California before heading for the stairs. He did not reach the bottom.

Peter, you are missed by many and never forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers are with you, your family and all of those taken from us on that unthinkable September Day!

Rest In Peace Old Friend!

Sincerely,

Joe Dougherty
PhillyLabor.com

For a remembrance of Peter Ortale, go to – http://today.duke.edu/2011/09/ortale

America’s Union-Busting Conservatives Are Going Local

By Spencer Woodman

- Organized labor has been under assault for decades in this country, and if the Midwest offers any indication, a new breed of anti-union laws could be coming to your town next. In 2012, amid bitter protests at the state capitol in Indianapolis, Republicans voted to admit Indiana into the legion of “right-to-work” states, meaning that many of its unions could no longer require employees under their representation to pay dues. But even as that law has wound its way through a number of legal fights, another, largely unnoticed right-to-work battle has cropped up in the nearby city of Fort Wayne, where local officials have taken things a step further. This summer, the Republican supermajority in the city council pushed through a series of bills—including its very own local right-to-work law—that make it far more difficult for unions to represent government employees.

Conservatives love it when states to pass right-to-work laws, since they represent an existential threat to the power of unions, which rely on dues for both daily operation and institutional growth. Twenty-four states have adopted them. Stirring potent passions across the political spectrum, right-to-work laws act as both agent and symbol of the county’s declining rates of unionization and the fading clout of labor. While it remains uncertain which, if any, of the (relatively few) pro-labor states will join this trend, right-wingers are eyeing a potentially massive new battleground for their pro-business regime: individual cities and counties across the country—even those in strongly Democratic territory.

A report released last week by the conservative Heritage Foundation lays out the basic vision: Localities across the country should “experiment,” Heritage suggests, with local right-to-work territories. The authors, who appear to be most focused on unions that organize private-sector employees, forecast that such laws could provoke a legal challenge ending up in the hands of the US Supreme Court, which they expect to uphold the right of cities and counties to determine the fate of their unions.

Heritage’s analysis may prove to be more than some academic exercise. Localities and politicians across the country are eyeing related legislation. For instance, Bruce Rauner—Illinois’ Republican candidate for governor, who is waging a competitive race against the state’s Democratic incumbent—cites the creation of local right-to-work zones as one of his top policy priorities for the Illinois economy. And earlier this year in Pennsylvania, the statewide association of county commissioners encouraged officials across the state to pass their own county-level laws restricting unions’ authority to collect mandatory dues.

But Fort Wayne offers a vivid example of what the bitterly divisive laws look like on the micro scale. In June, the city council approved a law that effectively eliminates the right of many municipal employee unions to play any role in bargaining, rendering most of the unions powerless. This did not apply to public-safety workers, however, who became the subject of a different law, passed in July, that imposes a more straightforward right-to-work ordinance on police and firefighters.

“Now, we don’t even have a seat at the table,” says Lloyd Osborne, the business representative of the Local 399 Operating Engineers, which represents street maintenance and water utility workers. “We can’t go on [workplace] property to represent or even speak to our members—or who used to be our members. They completely did away with the unions here under a local ordinance.”

Sofia Rosales-Scatena at the local Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association—which is now subject to the city’s right-to-work law—says that while the union can still require members to pay “administrative fees,” newer officers may balk at paying full, once-required dues that fund legal services, charity drives and other programs considered mainstays of their work. “The first thing to go would be our charitable activities,” Rosales-Scatena tells me, citing the union’s regular participation in the Special Olympics and food drives for hungry families during the holidays.

Fort Wayne’s new laws—both the statues themselves and the style with which they were legislated—resemble those ramrodded onto employees in Wisconsin by the state’s Koch-friendly governor, Scott Walker, in 2011. By effectively eliminating state employees’ right to bargain and also mandating that due-paying by public employees become voluntary, Walker sparked the country’s most acrimonious labor showdown in years. The uproar brought tens of thousands of protesters to Madison and resulted in a particularly nasty recall election that Walker survived—thanks in large part to an infusion of unregulated outside cash. Epitomized by his epic assault on collective bargaining, Walker’s reign has put Wisconsin on the map as the country’s most politically (and, to a slightly lesser extent, racially) polarized state. (Walker’s campaigning activity has since become the subject of a large criminal investigation, though he is not directly implicated at this point.)

Even though Walker was able to hang on, labor organizers in Fort Wayne believe that overreach by the Republican leadership could galvanize voters to elect friendlier candidates in upcoming elections. A letter from a local Republican operative to the Fort Wayne Republican City Council members indicate that the party itself fears that its council members may have gone after local unions—which is to say workers—too bluntly.

Ultimately, the Fort Wayne law, along with other local right-to-work statutes, could be decided in the courts. According to Kenneth G. Dau-Schmidt, a professor of labor and employment law at Indiana University, right-to-work regimes like that of Fort Wayne might be imperiled by both the state constitution, which requires “just compensation” for union representation, and also by a state law that governs police and firefighters unions. Before now, Dau-Schmidt had never heard of this sort of law being determined by cities and counties. “Generally we don’t make labor law on the local level,” he says.

The Fort Wayne case would likely not qualify as a candidate for Heritage’s hoped-for Supreme Court win because state—rather than federal—laws often govern public sector workers, according to Lance Compa, an expert at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations. Compa argues that local right-to-work laws targeting private-sector unions would stand no chance in federal court.

“In the private sector this would be clearly pre-empted under the National Labor Relations Act,” Compa says. “States can enact these laws, but only states, and cities and counties cannot. I mean, they could do it, but it would only be symbolic, and it would be stopped in the court.”

Some conservatives disagree, and the spirit of a recent Supreme Court ruling gives them cause for hope.

In June, in a 5-4 decision in the case of Harris v. Quinn, the Supreme Court held that public sector unions across the country could no longer mandate dues from certain employees. Although the ruling’s scope was narrow, some labor law experts see the decision as opening the door to an eventual wholesale nationwide right-to-work ruling. William Messenger of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation—the lead attorney representing the victors in that case—sat on a Heritage Foundation panel about local right-to-work laws held last week.

Messenger told the crowd that unions requiring members pay dues is “sort of a lot like a kidnapper, you know, saying that their victim should pay them room and board. Well, they don’t want to be there in the first place,” he said, adding that it is “the unions that are imposing their representation on those employees.”

Conservative ideologues hope that local right-to-work laws will, by their very existence, spread widely by placing pressure on neighboring localities to follow suit. In this view, once one town loosens its labor protections, it will become more attractive to business and thereby force nearby cities and counties to pass their own laws making it cheaper to hire people. Heritage hopes that this could ultimately filter up to the state, or even national, level. Andrew Kloster, a co-author of the Heritage report, cited Illinois and New York as states with right-wing localities that might pass such laws. (Of course, many economists have questioned the conservative gospel that right-to-work invigorates economies.)

“If you can’t get it at the statewide level,” added the report’s co-author, James Sherk, “the locality level is the next best thing.”

Source: http://www.vice.com/read/americas-union-busting-conservatives-are-going-local-904

Why Higher Voter Turnout Scares the GOP Republicans are once again drumming up fear of a nearly non-existent crime: “voter fraud.”

BY David Sirota

- It is rare for a politician to publicly deride efforts to boost voter turnout. It is seen as a taboo in a country that prides itself on its democratic ideals. Yet, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie last week slammed efforts to simplify voter registration.

Referring to Illinois joining other states—including many Republican-led ones—in passing a same-day voter registration law, Christie said: “Same-day registration all of a sudden this year comes to Illinois. Shocking. It’s shocking. I’m sure it was all based on public policy, good public policy to get same-day registration here in Illinois just this year, when the governor is in the toilet and needs as much help as he can get.”

Christie was campaigning for Illinois GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner, who is challenging Democratic incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn, who signed the same-day registration bill into law in July.

Christie, who chairs the Republican Governors Association, denounced the effort to boost voter turnout as an underhanded Democratic tactic, despite the Illinois State Board of Elections being composed equally of Democrats and Republicans. Referring to the same-day voter initiative, Christie said Quinn “will try every trick in the book,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Christie said the program is designed to be a major “obstacle” for the GOP’s gubernatorial candidates.

The trouble with such rhetoric—beyond its anti-democratic themes—is its absurd assertions about partisan motives. After all, many of the 11 states with same-day registration laws currently have Republican governors.

In reality, same-day registration is all about turnout, not partisanship. According to data compiled by the think tank Demos, average voter turnout is more than 10 percent higher in states that allow citizens to register on the same day that they vote. Demos also notes that “four of the top five states for voter turnout in the 2012 presidential election all offered same-day registration.” There was some evidence in Wisconsin that same-day registration boosted Democratic turnout, but the Wisconsin State Journal of Madison reports that “Republican areas also saw heavy use of the state’s last-minute registration law.” The registration system been also been adopted by such deeply Republican states as Wyoming, Idaho and Utah.

Unlike Christie, most Republicans who have fought voter turnout efforts like same-day registration have argued that same-day registration would increase voter fraud. This has allowed the GOP to position itself as battling crime—not as trying to block legal voters. But the GOP has been unable to substantiate that voter-fraud claim, and there is overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Demos, for example, surveyed data from six states with same-day registration and found that “there has been very little voter fraud in [same-day registration] states over the past several election cycles.” In GOP-dominated North Dakota—which requires no voter registration at all—Secretary of State Alvin Jaeger, a Republican, reported that “voter fraud has not been widespread in North Dakota” and that there have been “very few known incidents of voter fraud” in the state.

Those findings confirm a recent analysis of primary, general, special and municipal elections by Loyola University professor Justin Levitt. He found that since 2000, more than a billion ballots have been cast in the United States and there have been just 31 credible incidents of voter fraud.

In light of that data, Republican efforts to prevent same-day registration and preclude voting betray a fear that has nothing to do with voter fraud and everything to do with political power. Essentially, the GOP fears that when more Americans exercise their basic democratic rights, Republicans may have less chance of winning elections.

Source: http://inthesetimes.com/article/17141/why_higher_voter_turnout_scares_the_gop

Sources: Taj To File For Bankruptcy, Close In November; 2800 jobs in jeopardy.

By Cleve Bryan

- Sources tell CBS 3 Eyewitness News that the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City is filing for bankruptcy, is expected to close in November and terminate all employees.

Another hit while the city is already down as gamblers learn the Trump Taj Mahal is in trouble.

“This is the only place we go and it’s actually fantastic, but I’m not surprised,” Taj Mahal customer Lee Meredith said.

A source confirms to CBS 3 Eyewitness News that the Taj Mahal has already begun the process for bankruptcy and layoff notices could go out to workers next week. As of August, the casino hotel had more than 2,800 employees.

“It’s catastrophic, I mean what are those families going to do?” Taj Mahal customer Judy Handzo said.

A closure would put 34 of Wayne Richardson’s employees out of work at the White House Sub Shop’s Taj Mahal location.

“Right now we just have our hands up in the air saying just give us some information. We have another year and a half on our contract over here, I mean what do we do?” Wayne Richardson, General Manager of White House Subs at Taj Mahal, said.

In August a Deutsche Bank forecast that Atlantic City’s gambling market will shrink from 11 to 6 casinos by 2017 with the Trump Taj Mahal joining the list of closed properties.

“I can’t imagine less than eight casinos down here. I hope not,” Taj Mahal customer Rob Handzo said.

Stockton College gaming expert Israel Posner thinks a Taj bankruptcy is a sign Atlantic City’s future is darkened, but not doomed.

“The revenue has been declining and the profitably has been declining, so it’s not a surprising event. I think the remaining casinos are in reasonably good shape and really are doing reasonably well,” Israel Posner of Stockton College Gaming Institute said.

The situation with the Taj will add another layer to discussions that are scheduled for Monday. Governor Chris Christie has called a summit together of local leaders to discuss the future of Atlantic City.

Source: http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2014/09/05/sources-trump-taj-mahal-filing-for-bankruptcy/

Fast Food Protest in Philly calls for $15 minimum wage

By Randy LoBasso

- This morning, fast food and low-wage workers in 150 cities across the U.S. walked out of their jobs, demanding a higher minimum wage. In Philadelphia, workers and organizers met on North Broad—some at the McDonald’s at Girard, others marching down from Allegheny.

Demanding $15 per hour, the protests were part of a 2-year campaign to bring attention to the United States’ working poor and allow fast food workers to form a union.

“We’re the richest country in the world, where corporate CEOs are making more money than anyone else, the stock market is going through the roof, and wealth disparity is greater than it’s been since the 20s,” said state Sen. Daylin Leach of Montgomery County, who showed up at McDonald’s this morning before the march down Broad Street. “It’s time that we start allowing workers to live decent lives by paying decent wages. I think that’s a statement that has to be made across the country and whatever I can do to lend my voice to that, I’m proud to do.”

Leach has introduced numerous bills which would raise the minimum wage, including one currently sitting in committee that’d raise the wage to $12—“although $15 would be awesome,” he told PhillyNow.

Ed Henry, of Northeast Philadelphia, says he’s been working at UPS for 18 years—where he’s a member of a union. He began working once a week at a Burger King for extra cash and says the situation is ripe for a union, given the number of workers worried about demanding higher wages for fear of losing their jobs.

As noted by NBC News, walkouts alone are “unlikely to yield raises or union rights in the immediate term”—but they have forced policymakers to pay attention to these otherwise ignored population of low-wage workers. Since 2012, several cities and two states have also passed paid sick leave laws, and earlier this summer, Seattle actually did raise its minimum wage to $15 per hour.

For low-wage worker Jose Torres, who works at Burger King on Frankford Ave. in Northeast Philadelphia, the fight for higher wages has been life-changing. Today was his third action, and he’s traveled as far as Chicago to protest low-wages with other Philadelphia workers and organizers.

“At first I thought it was kind of sketchy, but when I actually see what we do with these actions—it gets people out here motivated and it’s not just fast food people; it’s health care workers, leaders, you’ve got the Jewish Labor Board, all these people are coming out here,” he said.

Still though, he admits it’s been hard to get his co-workers to walk out, for fear of repercussions.

Glenn Davis, Green Party candidate for state House in the 190th District, said he used to work at the McDonald’s on Vine Street, and it, obviously, totally failed to bring in the money he needed to live and raise his three children. And a union, he noted, “would give [the workers here] a voice. As many people are out here — which I’m proud of — there should be a lot more. But there are no unions, so they think they’re gonna get fired. A union would support this.”

McDonald’s put out this statement to reporters this afternoon, which, in part:

“At McDonald’s we respect everyone’s rights to peacefully protest. The topic of minimum wage goes well beyond McDonald’s — it affects our country’s entire workforce. McDonald’s and our independent franchisees support paying our valued employees fair wages aligned with a competitive marketplace. We believe that any minimum wage increase should be implemented over time so that the impact on owners of small and medium-sized businesses – like the ones who own and operate the majority of our restaurants – is manageable. Additionally, we believe that any increase needs to be considered in a broad context, one that considers, for example, the impact of the Affordable Care Act and its definition of “full time” employment, as well as the treatment, from a tax perspective, of investments made by businesses owners.”

Eleven protesters were reportedly arrested after converging at the McDonald’s at Broad and Arch after refusing to vacate the street.

Source – http://phillynow.com/2014/09/04/photo-gallery-fast-food-protest-in-philly-calls-for-15-minimum-wage/