Encouraged by headlines that the Philadelphia Airport Expansion Project will move forward, POWER! (Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower, and Rebuild) is calling on City Leaders to make sure the agreement is done not only quickly, but correctly. More than 200 members of POWER!’s Leadership Assembly recently ratified a new “Airport Jobs-Policy Agreement” that maps out a hiring strategy for the Airport Expansion Project which includes assurances that long-term unemployed residents from high-poverty city neighborhoods get training and hiring preference for new jobs created. (see complete Airport Jobs-Policy Agreement below).
In order to garner support for the new Airport Jobs-Policy Agreement, more than 30 inter-faith leaders, representing 25,000 members of POWER! congregations in Philadelphia, will dress in full clergy regalia and lead a prayer rally at the Philadelphia Airport on Thursday March 29, 2012 at Noon to urge PROPER action on the airport expansion project. The clergy leaders are from different churches, synagogues, and mosques around the city which make up the organization POWER! (Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower, and Rebuild www.powerphiladelphia.org).
“POWER! congregations serve thousands of Philadelphians who are either unemployed or underemployed,” says Bishop Dwayne Royster, Pastor of Living Water United Church of Christ in Kensington and POWER!’s Executive Director. “In addition to easing airport delays for people traveling through Philadelphia, this economic development project should be used to address long-standing poverty and joblessness in our hardest hit neighborhoods.”
The prayer rally on Thursday March 29, at the Airport (exact location to be determined) will be in support of the upcoming $6-billion airport expansion project which includes building new runways and terminals that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and city officials say will ease congestion. The Airport Expansion is also projected to bring more than 100,000 jobs to the Philadelphia region over the next several decades.
The Airport Expansion project will be financed, in part by municipal bonds, state and federal funds as well as Airport Fees. US Airways, which operates 70 percent of Philadelphia’s air traffic, filed a complaint with the Securities Exchange Commission expressing concern about the project threatening to delay the entire plan. However, this week the Philadelphia Inquirer reports Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and US Airways have reached an agreement. POWER! is cautiously optimistic and wants to work with the city and Airlines to ensure the just implementation of the expansion project is for the good of all Philadelphians.
“There are young people sitting in Philadelphia classrooms and adults sitting in GED programs whose future will be determined by our ability to establish this kind of agreement,” says Rev. Cean James of Grace Christian Fellowship in Southwest Philadelphia. “The expansion of PHL provides a unique opportunity for city government to provide leadership to ensure that struggling people from all over the city are able to take advantage of this once in a life time economic development project.”
In addition to the noon prayer rally on March 29th, the leaders of POWER! will gather at Arch St. United Methodist Church, located at Broad & Arch Streets, at 9:00am that day, and walk over to City Hall to meet with City Council members to urge them to support a “local hiring preference” and a living wage standard for jobs as outlined in POWER!’s Jobs-Equality Agreement. The clergy leaders will then board the R1 train and head to the airport for the prayer rally.