Hunger Strikers Rally as School Budget Crisis Continues

Hunger strikers protesting massive education layoffs in the cash-strapped Philadelphia School District rallied outside a Center City hotel Saturday.

Dozens of cafeteria workers gathered outside the Bellevue Hotel on Broad Street as the countdown clock ticks toward a vote in Harrisburg on the school budget. The workers are entering the third week of the strike to demand the funding needed to rehire about 1,200 lunchtime aides.

Some say those aids help curb fights during lunchtime and keep school children safe. Colleagues from Baltimore attended the rally to offer support.

“Baltimore says they shouldn't have to think about violent acts being committed against while they're trying to get an education, prepare themselves for the future…especially during lunchtime,” said Yaseen Abdul-Malik.

A rotating group of activists has been fasting since June 17.

The aides are among more than 3,800 public school employees who will lose their jobs Sunday at midnight because of the district's $304 million deficit.

The “Fast for Safe Schools” is being organized by Unite Here, a labor union representing the aides. Participants drink only water.

On Friday, fasters delivered a petition signed by at least 1,000 people to Gov. Corbett's Philadelphia office.

Fifteen elected officials fasted in solidarity with the group on Thursday, including a congressman, state lawmakers, members of City Council and the district attorney.


Copyright AP - Associated Press
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