Donor Profile: Kahim Boles

Kahim Boles, president of AFSCME Local 2187.

Donor since: 1985.

Occupation: Social worker and president of AFSCME Local 2187, representing professional workers for the city of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Parking Authority and Philadelphia Housing Authority.

Why he thinks AFSCME Local 2187 members give: “When it comes to making real change, you have to put up or shut up. Real change requires commitment and solidarity.”

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“Our members do everything from conducting story hours to helping families stay together to keeping city drinking water safe,” says Kahim Boles, president of AFSCME Local 2187, which represents city librarians, social workers, nurses, psychologists, engineers, inspectors, architects and more.

Prior to heading the union, Kahim was a social worker for the Department of Human Services, a paralegal at Community Legal Services, and a benefits counselor at the Philadelphia Unemployment Project.

Kahim and members of Local 2187 have demonstrated their commitment to supporting social change individually through workplace donations and collectively with an annual contribution to Bread & Roses.

“We are looking for a way to make a difference. And our support of Bread & Roses allows us to do that,” says Kahim. “Bread & Roses assists the organizations that can’t go anywhere else to get funding and support. That’s important.”

The union is now facing difficult negotiations with the city that require community support.

“My members are suffering. They have been working under an expired contract for three years. In that time, they’ve had no wage increases, their health care contributions have increased, and the bills are getting above their heads,” says Kahim.

The city has begun contract negotiations, but with the threat of 20 unpaid furlough days, an agreement seems far off.

“The city needs to look at the big picture. If you don’t treat public servants right, we all suffer,” says Kahim.

Following on the success of this year’s Tribute to Change, which honored workers’ rights heroes, Kahim is hopeful about community and labor solidarity: “We’ve been demonized by the right and we need support. Union members go the same churches, the same markets, and pay the same taxes as everyone else.”

Kahim seeks community support of labor unions to help build a bigger movement for change: “If we let them take good jobs and benefits from us, no one will ever have them again. And without good jobs, people can’t invest the way they need to in building community.”

Thank you to Kahim and the members of AFSCME Local 2187, who are doing their part to fund a movement for real change by supporting Bread & Roses.