unions

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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Government & Politics
7:41 am
Wed April 2, 2014

Softened Changes For Union Exemption On 'Fast Track'

A state proposal to change rules for unions involved in a labor dispute is on the fast track to becoming law.

Under state law, unions in Pennsylvania are allowed to harass, stalk, and threaten to use weapons of mass destruction if they’re involved in a labor dispute.

Legislation that started as an effort to end that exemption now just kind of massages it.

A Senate committee on Tuesday approved changes to allow stalking and harassment if it is used in the pursuit of constitutionally-protected or legally-protected activity.

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Government & Politics
10:33 am
Tue January 28, 2014

Rhetorical Fight Brewing Over Union Deductions Proposal

A rhetorical battle is brewing over a proposal to end the automatic deduction of union dues and voluntary political contributions from the pay of public employees in Pennsylvania.

Unions representing public workers say it’s an attempt to kill organized labor and shrink their political spending.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Bryan Cutler of Lancaster County, says he’s not refuting the rights of public employee unions to make contributions to political campaigns and political action committees.

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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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