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Women in the trades demand fair hiring at Temple University

Published Feb 24, 2012 9:09 PM

Chanting “Temple University! Unions for All!” to the beat of Puerto Rican planera drums, construction workers and their supporters picketed a worksite at Temple University on Feb. 13 to demand fair hiring practices.

The protest was organized by Margarita Padín, who has worked as a carpenter for 23 years and is a member of Carpenters Local 8; Joanna Harris, a member of Operating Engineers Local 542; Dianna Montague, a member of Ironworkers Local 405; and other women and men in the construction trades.

Harris told Workers World: ” We are out here today because Temple University and L. F. Driscoll have had a lack of fair hiring practices for minorities and women at this particular location. It has been a history of Temple University and the other general contractors — the major contractors in the Philadelphia area — to not properly monitor, and hire with fairness, skilled trade laborers. Ironworkers, operating engineers, electricians — the women are not represented. The minorities are not represented.”

Margarita Padín, right,
at Feb. 13 protest.
WW photos: Joseph Piette

The Coalition of Labor Union Women, Temple students and Occupy Philly activists joined the protest, which received supportive comments from passersby and honks from passing cars.

Padín said: “Temple University has $400 million in current construction projects in one of the poorest districts in the country, but the demographics of this district are not represented on these construction projects. These are the kinds of jobs that lift people out of poverty.”

“The mandate for the make­up of the workforce should be the state of Pennsylvania as well as Temple University — they are in the middle of a minority-populated area. They should be monitoring fairly. … We’re going to be here until we see a change,” said Harris.

The protest spurred Temple University officials and construction contractors to meet with organizers. But since no progress was made, the labor activists have announced another protest on Feb 20.