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Hiring hall held in Philadelphia as speakers highlight public service jobs crisis

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney speaks at the Staff the Front Lines event today. Photo: Nick Voutsinos
Hiring hall held in Philadelphia as speakers highlight public service jobs crisis
By Nick Voutsinos ·

PHILADELPHIA – Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney joined AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer Elissa McBride and members of AFSCME District Councils 33, 47 and the National Union of Hospital & Health Care Employees District 1199C (NUHHCE) for a press conference today on the urgent need to fill open public service positions throughout the city.

The press conference coincided with a city-sponsored hiring event at the AFSCME Council 33 Union Hall, where job seekers had the opportunity to apply for open positions within essential city agencies and local health care facilities.

From nurses to sanitation workers to corrections officers, chronic short staffing is undermining the effective delivery of public services that all Pennsylvanians rely on. That’s why AFSCME launched the Staff the Front Lines initiative this year, to partner with elected officials on recruiting and retaining the essential workers who keep our communities running. The Staff the Front Lines bus is holding recruitment events in more than 20 major cities across the country this summer.

Mayor Jim Kenney praised essential workers for their dedication and sacrifice during the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that the city needs more of them – especially younger people.

“If you want to have a great job, if you want to have good pay, good benefits, if you want to be respected – and you’re getting out of high school or getting out of college – come and work for us. We need you,” he said.

AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer Elissa McBride said our union is dedicated to helping create a diverse and inclusive public service workforce.“We are joined by community partners, including Jobs with Justice, the Philadelphia AFL-CIO and the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists at our hiring hall. Their partnership will help create a public service workforce that truly reflects the communities we serve,” McBride said. “We are reaching out in creative ways to underrepresented communities, including young people, so that they can learn about careers in public service and find out how rewarding it can be.”

Ernest Garrett, president of District Council 33, said public service offers applicants a chance to make an impact on their communities.

“A job is about more than a paycheck. It’s about being able to take care of your family and live a good life. That’s what a public service job has meant for millions of families, and that’s what we want it to be for you and your family,” he said. “So we ask you today to join us in this work. To answer the call to make a difference in your community through public service.”

During the Great Recession, many public service workers lost their jobs, said April Gigetts, president of District Council 47.

“Now, our economy is doing great, especially in the private sector, where jobs have recovered from the pandemic. But the truth is our states, cities and towns have some catching up to do. That includes private employers who provide public services as well. To keep delivering the world class public services our communities depend on, we must build up our public service workforce,” Gigetts said.

John Hundzynski, president of District 1199C, said unfilled health care jobs endanger patient well-being and safety.

“If we don’t fill these roles, that means more people are waiting for life-saving treatment, medicine, or even surgery. I urge you to be a part of the solution,” he said. “And because these are good union jobs, if you’re a health care worker, you can feel confident that you will be able to take care of yourself and your own family.”

To learn more about AFSCME’s national bus tour, visit

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