With prayers and pressure, clergy coalition seeks Philly airport jobs for needy

    An interfaith coalition wants to make sure city residents get a piece of the economic benefits from a $6 billion expansion of Philadelphia International Airport.

    “We have the people. we just want to connect the people to the jobs. That’s what we’re really trying to do, connect the people to the jobs,” said Alan Chestnut, who works with the Islamic nonprofit, Masjidullah. “And we have to do that through the city.”

    The coalition, called POWER, visited City Hall Thursday to urge City Council members to put off any resolutions on the airport expansion until city residents are promised training for the airport jobs.

    “Right now we’re focused on this multibillion-dollar expansion at the Philadelphia airport, trying to direct some of those jobs to the people that need them most,” said Rabbi Julie Greenberg of Center City congregation Leyv Ha-ir.The city officials said in a statement that they are reviewing POWER’s proposal — the city only received the document Thursday — but that mechanisms already are in place to meet its provisions:

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    “The city is committed to diverse participation in publicly funded projects through project labor agreements and the participation requirements instituted and monitored by the Office of Economic Opportunity,” said the statement. “Any delay in moving airport expansion forward only delays job creation.”

    After their visit to City Hall, the clergy members took a train to the airport for a prayer vigil.

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