Philadelphia Unemployment Project (PUP)

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Photo-banner: Philadelphia Unemployment Project.

The Philadelphia Unemployment Project (PUP) gives the following descriptive information:

Since 1975, the Philadelphia Unemployment Project has organized the poor and unemployed to fight for economic justice, bringing diverse groups together to bring about major changes that benefit millions of unemployed and impoverished. PUP has helped the unemployed link with coalition partners in the labor, religious, community civil rights and women’s movements to increase our power. Our victories prove that, once organized, working people and the unemployed can be a powerful voice in the city, state, and nation. Below are some of the many accomplishments in which PUP played a key role:

  • The enforcement of the federal Hill-Burton Act, which required hospitals to provide free care to lower income uninsured persons.
  • The continuation of Federal Supplemental Compensation Unemployment Benefits when they were scheduled to be slashed in 1977.
  • The 1979 delay in the lay-offs of 3,300 Philadelphia CETA workers. Hundreds were transferred into civil service jobs and remained employed.
  • The passage of legislation in 1982 to require 60 days’ notice prior to a plant shutdown, the nation’s first municipal plant closing ordinance.
  • The preservation of over $250 million in Pennsylvania state taxes for critical programs in 1981, 1982, and 1983.
  • The extension of federal Unemployment Compensation from 39 to 49 weeks in August of 1982.
  • A moratorium on all Sheriff Sales in Philadelphia in 1983 that lasted over a year.
  • The passage of the Homeowner’s Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (HEMAP) in December of 1983, the nation’s first mortgage assistance program.
  • An end to mandatory overtime for American Postal Workers in 1984, creating 500 new jobs.
  • In 1989, the first increase in the state minimum wage since 1981.
  • Laying the groundwork for employment experience programs like Philadelphia@Work (1998), and the Work Opportunities program (1999) through a campaign demanding public jobs in light of welfare reform.
  • The establishment in September 2005 of guidelines with the city for making reasonable payment plans for low-income people who owe back taxes.
  • Launched an innovative reverse commute program in 2006, Commuter Options, which provides vehicles for inner city workers to commute to suburban jobs. Up to 32 vans take up to 130 workers to better paying suburban jobs daily.
  • Pressed for and won a public jobs program using federal stimulus dollars which the state had been unwilling to use. The Way to Work program started in 2010 and created over 12,000 jobs state wide and nearly 4,000 in Philadelphia with wages of up to $13 per hour.
  • PUP has brought together a broad state wide coalition called Raise the Wage PA to advocate for at least a $10.10 state minimum wage. Several statewide actions have been organized and are putting the issue into public awareness with elections coming up.

Amidst all these larger victories and issue-based campaigns, PUP has also assisted thousands of individual unemployed and low-income workers in their job searches and in their dealings with tax and mortgage problems,

unemployment compensation, welfare, health care, and much more as the organization works to protect individuals and families facing hard times. PUP will continue its work on a large scale and on the level of the individual as long as there is need.

PUP’s sister organization the Unemployment Information Center has also played a important role by providing research, direct services and organizing support to jobless Philadelphians and PUP since 1976.

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