Jake Blumgart

Philly's New Land Bank: Will it Give Blighted Communities a Boost?

This article originally appeared on YES! Magazine's website, and is reprinted here with their permission.

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We Know How to Prevent Horrifying Silo Deaths, So Why Do They Keep Happening?

In recent decades, American workplaces have become safer as many of the most dangerous jobs have been offshored or automated. But silos and other facilities used to store grain and similar materials have the gruesome distinction of causing one of the only kinds of agricultural workplace accidents that haven’t declined.

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5 Outrageously Cruel Proposals for Immigrant Workers in the U.S. by Members of Congress

Immigration reform has been one of the biggest political fireworks displays in Washington D.C. this year, with no end in sight. A filibuster-proof majority in the Senate voted a much-celebrated bill through last month, which includes a 13-year path to citizenship and includes numerous onerous provisions that will be hard for low-income workers to bear. In the House Republicans are planning to vote piecemeal legislation through the Judiciary Committee and have already passed one bill that would make it a federal crime to illegally immigrate to the U.S., and an utterly barbaric bill regarding farmworkers. No Democrats voted for either one.

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Does Your Boss Have the Right to Fire You For Being Physically Irresistible?

Most people would probably agree that it isn’t fair for an employer to fire a worker because of his or her looks. But in America, employment-at-will is the law of the land. That means you can be fired at any time, for almost any reason, or for no reason at all. So fair doesn’t really enter into it. You can be heaved out onto the street for anything from the color of your shirt, to your haircut, to your sexual and reproductive choices.

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School Districts, Charter Schools Save Money By Impoverishing Support Staff

At the end of the 2012-2013 school year, two of America’s largest school districts, Chicago and Philadelphia, closed a total of 73 public schools between the two cities. Thousands of employees were laid off, including many food service, janitorial and security workers. In Philadelphia alone, 1,202 safety staffers who prevent violence when students aren’t in class, were laid off.  

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Is the Beer You Are Drinking This Weekend Union Made?

Summer  is a season best celebrated with barbeque, fireworks, and great quantities of beer (although the latter two are usually best when unmixed).  This holiday weekend, in particular, allows for an prolonged period of indulgence. But how to choose your beverage? The average American consumer is presented with a bewildering array of beers. Preference depends on a wide variety of factors: Taste, tradition, regional pride, which ads have seeped deepest into our unconscious, and the lateness of the hour. For some, drinking union-made may give their beery binges the righteousness of the just. (A feeling that is often further inflamed after beer number three.)

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Even After One of Worst Worker Atrocities in Human History, Gap & Walmart Won't Get Serious About Preventing Another

On Saturday, June 29, Center City Philadelphia hummed with activity as shoppers and gawkers surged across the sidewalks, enjoying the first sunny day all week. But outside of the Gap outlet on Walnut Street, the crowds pause to look at the dozen people lying on the sidewalk. Again and again people came up to those standing at the fringes of the recumbent group: “What’re they doing?”

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The 5 Biggest Stories from the Fight for the Survival of Public Education

The 2012-2013 school year saw the fight over public education reach a new pitch, ending with mass layoffs in Philadelphia, and other large school districts, and a cadre of parents and workers who began a hunger strike in protest. This final incident marks the end of a 10-month stretch that has seen an increasingly diverse chorus of voices speaking against American education policy’s relentless focus on high-stakes testing, massive expansions of charter schools and mass teacher and staff layoffs. But there have also been some serious advancements in that agenda, especially in large urban districts.

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Not So Fast: 10 Companies That Threatened to Cut Worker Hours to Avoid Obamacare Are Rethinking Or Backing Off

During the runup to the 2012 general election, some business leaders were feeling antsy. “Everyone’s looking for a way to not have to provide insurance for their employees,” said John Metz, who is an owner of at least 45 fast food restaurants, in a Fox News interview soon after President Barack Obama’s re-election. “It’s essentially a huge tax on all us business people.”

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How Google and Silicon Valley Screw Their Non-Elite Workers

Silicon Valley sparks the imagination. Its wealth of tech jobs, flashy startups and new media goliaths seems to point toward a better future, beyond post-industrial doldrums and slack labor markets. Work on Google’s idyllic Mountain View campus hardly looks like work at all.  

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