SEIU workers stage massive rally in Philly as cleaners fight for better wages

About a thousand workers representing members of the Service Employees International Union filled streets in Center City to send a message to employers that they mean business in upcoming contract talks.

About a dozen busloads just from the New York area joined members of the union from Philadelphia as three groups of workers converged on the Ben Franklin Parkway for a massive rally. The rally was so big, that large-screen TVs were needed for all the protestors to see the stage.

Members and supporters of 32BJ SEIU held a march and rally in Center City, Philadelphia, during the union’s contract negotiations with Building Owners Labor Relations, an organization bargaining for Philly commercial office buildings, on August 29, 2023. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

The workers had a good portion of Center City shut down, marching from Love Park, the Pennsylvania Convention Center, and the Comcast Center. The groups converged on the parkway for speeches and a show of support from elected officials who joined the rally.

Democratic mayoral nominee, Cherelle Parker was the keynote speaker along with other state and city elected officials. She returned support given to her by the union at a time when she was not the frontrunner in the race.

Democratic candidate for Mayor of Philadelphia, Cherelle Parker, spoke to union members and supporters at a rally in support of 32BJ SEIU. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

The Philly rally brought together 32BJ SEIU cleaners from across the East Coast. Some 70,000 of its members will be negotiating for wage increases to keep up with inflation and protect life-saving health care benefits.

  • August 29, 2023
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