As a resident in Pennsylvania’s heavily gerrymandered 13th Congressional District, I have made no bones about who I am supporting in the Democratic primary, but I do have a connection with State Representative Brendan Boyle. I believe that Brendan Boyle’s positions on public education and vouchers are wrong, and his support of privatizing and voucherizing public education will make my dad’s and his dad’s shared experiences somewhat common for unionized teachers and unionized support staff in the Philadelphia School District.
I share a connection with State Representative Brendan Boyle and that connection between us have motivated us to become politically active, either as a politician or a progressive activist. At the January debate and throughout the primary process, Boyle has explained how his dad went from a factory, warehouse worker to a SEPTA janitor because a former employer laid off thousands of workers in the late 1990’s. His reasons and political motivations are noble and something to commend.
I have the same shared experiences with Brendan Boyle. My dad and Boyle’s dad worked for the same company and probably in the same warehouse at some point. Right out of high school in the 1970’s, my dad took a warehouse job with Acme Corporation and his warehouse was represented by Teamsters local 169. My dad benefitted from having strong, no-nonsense Teamsters local. In the late 1990’s, I was around 10 years old, and I remember my dad getting laid off by Acme. Out of a thousand employees in his warehouse, he was in the top 10 when it came to seniority. He had built up a lot of benefits and yearly raises because of his union representation and was one and a half years away from getting a full pension at 50. That changed. Acme wanted to participate in the race to the bottom, they closed their Philadelphia warehouses, laid off thousands of workers and moved their plant to Lancaster Pennsylvania. Worst of all, the company asked my dad and other workers to move Lancaster and become a scab. What were the benefits of becoming a scab in Acme’s eyes? Lose all seniority and start over at $8.00 an hour.
In the decade following Acme laying off these workers, my dad went from job to job. Each time taking lower wages. And now he currently works as a security guard at a local Philadelphia college. Watching what my dad has gone through is one of the reasons why I became an activist, but I didn’t fully understand as to why my dad lost his job until I took a college course on globalization and trade. After that, I got involved in organizing against Governor Corbett’s attacks on higher education, got involved with Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Philadelphia, started writing for the Raging Chicken Press and has stayed involved with progressive activism in Pennsylvania.
As someone who has the same shared experiences and motivations with State Rep Brendan Boyle, I will have an extremely hard time voting for him. My main issue with State Rep Boyle is his support for vouchers and the privatization of public education. State Rep Brendan Boyle has taken tens of thousands of dollars from education profiteers, whose main business model is to follow the same model that put our fathers out of a middle class job. It’s designed to break the unions, strip teachers and janitors or other support staff of seniority, take food off the tables of middle class workers, and scab out the labor of teaching our children to the lowest bidder.