Labor

Higher Education
3:30 am
Tue June 10, 2014

In Pittsburgh's New Economy, Organized Labor Reorganizes

Organizers Robin Sowards and Clint Benjamin at USW headquarters in downtown Pittsburgh, two blocks away from the campus of Point Park University. PPU adjunct faculty are voting this month on whether to join the Steelworkers.
Credit Josh Raulerson / 90.5 WESA

  Like any English professor, Clint Benjamin spends a lot of his time grading papers.

“There’s a mountain – a teetering Matterhorn of papers at the end of the weekend, or during the week,” Benjamin said. “You’ve just gotta get through them.”

By his own estimate, Benjamin spends 30 to 40 hours a week on grading alone. He also has to attend meetings, answer emails, keep office hours, and commute between the Community College of Allegheny County and Duquesne University campuses, where in a typical week he prepares and teaches five sections’ of English and writing classes.

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Public Safety
3:07 pm
Mon April 28, 2014

Workers Who Lost their Lives On The Job Honored On Workers Memorial Day

Jack Shea, president of Allegheny County Labor Council, commemorates Workers Memorial Day, honoring those killed, injured or sickened on the job.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Eleven workers who died on the job in 2013 and 2014 were honored in a ceremony in Pittsburgh’s Market Square Monday.

The annual Workers Memorial Day commemoration aims to highlight something that still happens, even though worker safety laws have improved over the years.

“We need to make sure that people feel safe everyday on the worksite, and whether it’s losing their life or just not coming home in the same physical condition, that’s just not acceptable,” said Jason Fincke, with the Builder’s Guild of Western Pennsylvania.

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Labor
10:13 am
Sun March 9, 2014

Local Activists Celebrate International Women's Day with Signature-Gathering Campaign

Cheria Cash, left, solicits a signature in support of a fired Chicago Whole Foods worker.
Credit Kyndall Mason / One Pittsburgh

Saturday was International Women’s Day, and local activists celebrated with a signature-gathering campaign.

About a dozen people gathered outside Whole Foods in East Liberty Saturday morning, asking shoppers and passers-by to sign a petition in support of a Chicago Whole Foods worker who was fired after missing work to stay home and care for her special needs son when his school was closed during the polar vortex this winter.

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Labor
5:32 am
Wed March 5, 2014

Peduto to Begin Mediating Talks Between UPMC and SEIU

Mayor Bill Peduto said in a press conference Tuesday that he is beginning talks with UPMC and SEIU, in attempt to resolve the ongoing labor dispute at the non-profit healthcare organization.  

Peduto said he will begin by meeting with both sides individually to see where they are at, before bringing all parties to the table.

“Right now, this is the most pressing issue that I have, because it affects not only our economy, but our peace,” Peduto said. “It hits on all the different things we talk about when we build a next Pittsburgh.”

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Labor
5:07 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

UPMC Workers Ramp Up Union Organizing Campaign With Day of Action

Hundreds of protesters gathered downtown on Monday.
Liz Reid 90.5 WESA

Hundreds of UPMC workers, community organizers, faith leaders, elected officials and concerned citizens descended on downtown Pittsburgh for a day of action Monday.

Protesters dealt with frigid temperatures and slushy streets to demand that UPMC recognize a workers union, pay higher wages, decrease healthcare premiums and pay taxes on the land that they own in the city of Pittsburgh.

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:12 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

American Economic Growth and Unions

Looking at America’s economy today, Former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich has pointed to the decline of unions as a contributor to the stagnation of American wages.

When unions are strong, is the economy strong?

Stephen Herzenberg, Executive Director of the Keystone Research Center says job growth and America’s recovery from the great recession have been too slow. With the decline in unions over the past few decades, he says wages have been flattened and even declined since the recovery began.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:15 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

Early Unions Collectively Bargained For Their Safety

This famous archive photo from 1942 depicts a huge vat of molten steel being poured into a mold at the Jones and Laughlin Steel Company, with a worker standing nearby.
Credit U.S. Office of War Information / wikipedia

America’s earliest unions of the 19th century were connected to craft and trade guilds. But with factory workers facing terrible working conditions such as 12+ hour work days, and 7 day work weeks in cramped, dangerous spaces, their only choice was to come together to collectively bargain for their safety.

When Crystal Eastman, Co-founder of the American Civil Liberties Union visited Pittsburgh in the 1920’s, she reported 526 industrial related deaths in Allegheny County within one year.

According to Dr. Charles McCollester, a former professor of Industrial and Labor Relations at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and author of The Point of Pittsburgh, about 3,000 mining industry workers died each year, between 1890 and 1920.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:56 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

The Future State of the Unions

President Reagan with William French Smith making a statement to the press regarding the air traffic controllers strike (PATCO) from the Rose Garden.
Credit White House Photo, PD / wikipedia

In recent decades, America has seen a sharp decline in union membership. In the 1950’s, 35 percent of American workers were members of a union, today that number is down to 11 percent.

According to labor author, commentator and speaker Philip Dine, President Reagan’s crackdown on unions in the 1980’s demonstrated that the old rules of collective bargaining no longer applied.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:00 pm
Tue August 27, 2013

The Business of Labor Day

Rosie the Riveter, depicted here by Norman Rockwell for the Saturday Evening Post, was one of the most recognized icons of the labor movement.
Credit Curtis Publishing / Wikipedia

More than 34 million Americans are projected to travel 50 miles or more this Labor Day weekend. This brings big profit opportunities for  businesses throughout the country.

Since its inception in 1882, the holiday has been marked by icons like Rosie the Riveter, barbecues and family gatherings.

Rebecca Harris, Director of the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Chatham University, says Labor Day weekend travelers will spend an estimated $800 on dining, shopping and gifts.

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Community
3:30 am
Fri August 2, 2013

Monday's Labor Day Celebrations to Highlight Transportation Funding, Fair Wages

Pittsburgh’s annual Labor Day parade is considered the second largest in the U.S., behind New York City.

Thousands of union members and officials will converge on downtown Monday morning to celebrate the history of the labor movement, American workers and to call attention to specific issues.

“We’ll be discussing a number of issues, one of them is transportation funding, another one is the right to organize as it relates to UPMC, and most of the issues that labor feels are important,” said Jim Kunz, business manager of Operating Engineers Local 66.

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Business
3:03 pm
Wed July 3, 2013

Rivers Casino Says Most Union Charges to NLRB Have Been Withdrawn

A spokesman for the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh says 33 unfair labor claims made by union organizers have been withdrawn following a review by the National Labor Relations Board, and the casino hopes to resolve 17 remaining claims.

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Labor
3:58 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

Workers' Memorial Day Honors Those Who Died on the Job

A cross for slain jitney cab driver Monica Proviano stands before a reproduction of a mural of penitent Pittsburgh laborers by Croatian artist Maxo Vanka.
Credit Noah Brode / 90.5 WESA

Local union leaders gathered in Market Square on Monday with the families of workers who have died on the job in Allegheny County, honoring them with a Workers' Memorial Day.

According to the event's organizers, 12 people died on the job in Allegheny County from May 2012 to the current month.

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Women, Labor
2:21 pm
Mon March 11, 2013

DNC Chair to USW Women’s Conference: “We Have Some Catching Up To Do”

US Represntative and Head of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, addresses the United Steelworkers International Women's Conference in Pittsburgh. USW International President Leo Gerard (right).
Credit Deanna Garcia/90.5 WESA News

In the midst of Women’s History Month, about a thousand women, and many men, gathered in Pittsburgh for the United Steelworkers International “Women of Steel” conference. The keynote was delivered by US Representative and head of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

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