No, the rumor of a district-wide strike isn't true.

But the blue-collar union that represents nearly 3,000 bus drivers, janitors and other Philadelphia school employees is planning a large rally Wednesday in Center City to protest mass layoffs and attempts to privatize public education.

Thousands are expected.

"Slashing thousands of school-district jobs – union jobs with good wages and benefits – would drag down Philadelphia's already struggling economy and its communities," said Julie Karant, spokeswoman for Local 32BJ, District 1201.

All 32BJ members in Philadelphia have already received layoff notices, effective this summer. Union leaders see the layoffs as part of a larger strategy by Gov. Corbett's administration to privatize public education in Philly and beyond.

"Corbett's effort to dismantle public education is a gift to the 1 Percent that leaves our kids behind and kills good jobs critical to rebuilding the economy," said Gabe Morgan, Pennsylvania State Director for 32BJ SEIU.

Wednesday's march will begin at noon outside the Municipal Services Building at 15th Street and JFK Boulevard. Similar events are planned in Pittsburgh, Altoona, Hazelton, Bethlehem, Greensburg and Doylestown.

The march is not expected to affect bus transportation or school operations in Philly, union officials said.

"We'd never tell them to abandon the classroom," said Philadelphia Federation of Teachers spokeswoman Barbara Goodman.

But PFT and other unions are supporting 32BJ and urging laid-off and retired members to attend the rally.

"It is a substantial move to show solidarity," said Robert McGrogan, head of the district's principals' union. "I've asked my members to be sympathetic to those employees."

Contact William Bender at 215-854-5255 or, or follow on Twitter @wbender99. Read his blog, "Daily Delco" at