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(en) US, Philadelphia, defenestrator* # 31 - STOP PGW SHUTOFFS

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Sun, 19 Dec 2004 07:40:39 +0100 (CET)


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A new bill was just passed Friday 11/19
allowing Philadelphia Gas Works to shut off
peoples' heat throughout the winter. Tons of
families "left out in the cold" are pissed and
organizing against this "cold-hearted" compa-
ny. ACORN (Association of Community
Organizations for Reform Now) is mounting a
direct-action based campaign to force PGW to
do what is best for the community and not
freeze out families this winter. Because of the
enormous number of people to be effected by
this, it is key to mobilize tons of people
against the company.

If you are filthy rich, living under a rock, or in
a solar powered collective, you may not have
noticed Philadelphia Gas Works prices going
up. The company, still "publicly owned" can,
has, and will shut your heat off if you are
behind in your payments. Many have had
their gas shut off already and are facing a
charge of between $500-$1000 to get it turned
back on. It does not matter to this company if
you have asthmatic children (as children often
are in the inner city) or if you are elderly, or if
you have other health issues. Pay your bill +
$500 or freeze, is the clear message they are
sending to Philadelphians.

To any thinking person, the logic of charging
someone who is clearly having trouble makin
payments a fee that is often double what they
already owe is counter-intuitive. If the point
is to get people to pay their gas bill, it is also
counter productive. I work with the commu-
nity organization ACORN and have been
working with a lot of people that are irrate
about this. Of course, there are folks who
somehow racked up a $7,000 bill and have
been shut off for months and are only thinking
about what to do now that it is cold, but there
are also tons of people who have had a shutof
sprung on them and their kids and don't know
what to do.

PGW's decision to shut off people's gas due to
non-payment is supported by people who see
poor folks as lazy and agree with the idea
that you can punish (and kill)
unilaterally for the willful non-payment of a
few. These people are also purposefully blind
to the bind of working folks and the strangle-
hold capitalism has on the inner city - forcing
people to pick which bills to pay each month.
There is also a large number of people emerg-
ing from the prison system who can't get a
job, have to pay back money they owe, and
are now faced with mounting bills, not to
mention single parents struggling with food
bills and turning to McDonalds. Some people
whose gas is shut off are finding a temporary
solution in red-coil electric space heaters (they
frighten the hell out of me). I was in a single
mom's home up by 8th and Montgomery; she
was gesticulating passionately while describing to me
how all of the utility companies are ripping her off and
was paying no attention to her 4 kids and dog who
were running around the freakin' heater! Her electric
bill will skyrocket too, so she most likely will not pay
it. Some folks from the fireman's union have talked
about working together with us to fight PGW, because of
solidarity and also because of the fire hazard these
heaters present.

Thursday 11/18 at seven am 20 ACORN
members blocked the PGW trucks and pre-
vented them from shutting people's gas off.
We were only there for a couple hours but the
PGW suits agreed to come to the ACORN
office to discuss specific people's shutoffs and
bills. Clearly 20 people wasn't enough to
scare PGW into reconsidering their policy -
they also tried to get a bill passed on Friday
which would allow them to do shutoffs all
winter! (The bill didn't pass.) So we need to
mobilize.

This Thursday morning was a good start, but
didn't solve the problem. If there had been a
thousand people out there, shouting over the
occasional passerby who would holler "Get
off Welfare" at us and showing some serious
solidarity with the tons of folks who are work-
ing several jobs and still can't pay all their
bills, we can illustrate that direct action works,
and "the system" doesn't. We need to build
off of this first action and prevent these mas-
sive shutoffs.

Call Sam at ACORN 215.765.0042 and let's
figure out some next steps. We have action
plans in the works and need your input and
presence. The Million Worker March has
called for a march and rally to protest rising
gas prices and shutoffs as well as SEPTA cuts.
For more info contact Bronwyn at coevolu-
tion@prodigy.net.
===========================
* [Ed. note: The defenestrator is of an
Anarchist/antiauthoritarian perspective]


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