Seeking extra tax revenue to bolster a struggling state budget, the United States state of Pennsylvania passed a bill in 2004 authorizing casinos in the state. The bill, Act 71, legalized the construction of 15 new casinos in the state, two of which would be chosen from among five proposals in the city of Philadelphia. The location, size, management, and other details remained open-ended. As the permitting process began, Philadelphia community members voiced concern to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) about the intrusion of casinos into their neighborhoods.
Swarthmore College, a small liberal arts college just outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, had long been respected as an institution with a strong commitment to social justice. While the College had pioneered such practices as co-education and comprehensive financial aid, by 2000 many College staff—including those in the environmental and dining services departments—were paid just above poverty levels for Delaware County, where the College and the majority of its workers reside. In the fall of 2000, a group of students began to talk with staff about the College’s employment practices.
African American auto workers strike for union democracy and better working conditions (DRUM), 1968-1970
Detroit, Michigan had long served as a world center for auto manufacturing. A number of U.S. automobile manufacturers centered their operations in the city, including Ford, Chrysler and General Motors. For decades, as well, the city was a center of racial conflict in the country. Following World War II, a number of white soldiers had returned to Detroit to find their manufacturing jobs “taken” by women and, more so, African American men. A number of Black workers were forced out of their jobs, though many remained.
In 2004, Western Michigan University outsourced its custodial labor to a private company called Commercial Sanitation Management. The contract cut costs for the university by $1.1 million dollars a year and eliminated 58 positions. Commercial Sanitation Management did not pay what the national living wage movement deemed a living wage: $9.50 an hour with health insurance or $10.50 without health insurance.
In 1963, nearly
ten years after the Brown vs. Board of
Education court case declared school segregation illegal, de facto rather
than legal segregation remained prevalent in many northern cities of the United
States including Milwaukee. Milwaukee
had begun “intact busing” of black children to predominately white schools in
1957, where black children were taught in classrooms separate from white
children and were not served in the cafeterias.