Labor advocates gathered Monday at the August Wilson Center for a panel discussion on the recently released report, “A Pittsburgh that Works for Working People.” The study, conducted by the Center on Wisconsin Strategy, included a series of recommendations they believe would improve the lives of Pittsburghers. The panel, which included economists, service workers and religious and elected leaders, discussed what steps the city would need to take to implement the proposals.
According to the report, Pittsburgh’s middle class has been experiencing a decline in median income since the 1970s.
“That’s a lot of what we know and what we feel in our neighborhoods,” said 32BJ SEIU Director Sam Williamson. “It’s what we know going to work everyday in the city.”
Reverend Lyde of Homewood Baptist Church and president of the PA Interfaith Impact Network said not enough people know how difficult it is for some people to make a living. He’s hoping the report can help educate the public.
“The report can help echo our voices for people,” said Lyde. “One of the things that is missing is the engagement of the the wide-spread populus in Pittsburgh.”
Pittsburgh’s history with the middle class is force for its revitalization.
“Our history helps us mostly because it reminds us of what is actually possible,” said Williamson. “We didn’t build a middle class by accident.”
The report’s recommendations for affordable housing, economic development, civil rights, jobs, and transit serve as a means to help Pittsburgh’s working class before it diminishes to unrecoverable levels, according to Lyde.
“Change does happen over a period of time, but data helps us get there,” said Lyde.
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