Union workers rally against Corbett budget

April 4, 2011 5:18:11 PM PDT
Last week it was the students taking to the streets and raising the alarm. This week, it's the unionized employees who work in Pennsylvania's schools.

It was an alphabet soup of organized labor. They were defending public education, but they were mostly worried about their jobs.

"We're here today to say, 'We are one!'"

That was part of the rally cry from Arthur Hochman of the Fox School of Business at Temple University. "I'm very worried. I'm very concerned about it. I'm concerned about it not only for myself but for my children that's in school," said Barbara Bohannon of Local 1199C Hospital Workers. "It's a very, very serious issue."

Governor Corbett proposes cutting almost $2 billion from Pennsylvania's school districts, state colleges and universities. The schools will be forced to trim their budgets, and that will mean jobs as well. They'll also be forced to raise tuition, which many students say they can't afford

"I already have to pay for all the school myself as it is," said Temple freshman Brandon Feraldo. "I have all government loans and I don't know how much more they can possibly loan me."

While Pa. Governor Tom Corbett proposes slashing education funds, his budget increases funding for prison construction. The crowd loudly questioned his priorities.

"I see something wrong with that picture. Don't you?" asked Ernie Bennett of SEIU Local 32BJ. "Because I was taught that prisons wasn't the way. That education was the way."

The rally was disrupted briefly by a couple of political science majors with dissenting viewpoints.

"Support budget cuts, support Corbett," they yelled while holding up signs. After a brief scuffle that saw their signs get ripped apart, the rally moved on, marching off down Broad Street, leaving tangled traffic in its wake.

You can expect a lot more noise, as Corbett's budget gets closer to a vote in Harrisburg.