About a dozen clergy leaders staged a sit-in protest for higher wages at Philadelphia International Airport on Thursday, July 21, and were briefly arrested. Among them were: the Rev. David Tatgenhorst, pastor of St. Luke UMC in Bryn Mawr; the Rev. Robin Hynicka, pastor of Arch Street UMC in Philadelphia; and the Rev. Gregory Holston, pastor of New Vision UMC in Philadelphia.
The interracial group are leaders of POWER (Philadelphians Organized to Witness Empower and Rebuild), the interfaith social justice organization that is contending for the payment of living wages to low-income workers.
“I went to the Philadelphia Airport to support a worker who was fired for inquiring about her pay,” wrote Tatgenhorst in a message to the Conference Communications Office. “We went to talk with American Airlines about the treatment of this worker and others who are being paid ridiculously low wages. The worker was employed not by American Airlines but by a subcontractor named Prospect. We wanted to talk to the airlines about the irresponsibility of their sub-contractors.”
The group included members of Black Clergy of Philadelphia. “We didn’t go intending to get arrested, but their treatment of us as clergy, and especially of this worker, was so dismissive and callous that we just sat down in Terminal A and started singing,” recalled Tatgenhorst.
Fortunately, the arrest was amicable. The protesters, some of whom live-tweeted the sit-in, received citations and were released. “The police were quite kind to us,” said Tatgenhorst. “They did not want to arrest us; and they tried to get American Airlines to talk with us, but to no avail.
“We feel the attention we brought to the situation helped the city get the union and American Airlines to the bargaining table to avert a strike this week,” he asserted. But he does not know if the fired worker was rehired. “I assume that will be part of the negotiations.” Read the story at Philly.com.
Photo by Twitter: @Cecilypower