Neighborhood groups in Philadelphia are calling for their fair share of jobs that will be created while expanding Philadelphia International Airport. After hundreds turned out for neighborhood meetings, did they get anywhere?
The group Philadelphians Organized to Witness Empower and Rebuild (POWER) held a series of forums on including community residents in airport expansion. Bishop Dwayne Royster is a member of POWER and pastor of Living Water United Church of Christ in North Philadelphia. He says the estimated $6 billion airport project needs to be inclusive.
“When we’re talking about spending Philadelphia dollars in terms of developing the airport we feel like it’s in the best interest of Philadelphians to be working on those jobsites,” said Royster. “If you don’t have people working it doesn’t benefit the city at all. We need to make sure the jobs, both the construction and the long-term jobs are going to Philadelphians.”
Councilman Kenyatta Johnson says he supports the group’s goal, but says airport expansion won’t happen overnight.
“There has to be an agreement between the administration and US Air on what the expansion will actually look like, so we are a long ways off on seeing the airport expansion project move forward,” said Johnson.
On many major construction projects, Philadelphia City Council has been adding language calling for more minority participation. But since court rulings have struck down strict quotas, that language sets goals that can’t be enforced.