United Steelworkers International

Fast food workers weren’t the only ones taking their message to the streets Thursday. The same day, healthcare workers at the Allegheny County Jail gathered at the County Courthouse, calling on the County Jail Oversight board to enforce staffing requirements laid out in a contract between the county and Corizon, a prison health management company.

“The numbers that have been agreed to as far as staffing for the infirmary, the mental health units – are not being met,” said Randa Ruge, and organizer with United Steelworkers, the union representing the workers.

Robert Couse-Baker / Flickr

Point Park University Adjunct Facility have voted to unionize and the administration seems to be ready to let that happen. 

“This is long over due,” said PPU adjunct English and French teacher Rebecca Taksel.  “We adjuncts… have been marginalized for so long.”

Following the 172-79 vote, the University responded with a written statement, which read in part,

“We are pleased that so many adjunct faculty members took the time to make their voices heard on this important issue. We respect the decision made by those eligible to vote and look forward to working with all faculty members to fulfill Point Park’s mission of educating the next generation.”

The university had originally fought the unionization effort run by the United Steel Workers. 

“As soon as we are officially recognized next Wednesday (July 2) we will be sending them (University administrators) a letter asking them for dates for bargaining,” said USW organizer Randa Ruge who thinks they will be able to negotiate better pay for the workers.

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.

U.S. Steel Announces Layoffs, What May Have Caused the Problem

Jun 5, 2014
Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Illegal imports may be costing steelworkers jobs in Pittsburgh. U.S. Steel announced it is laying off 260 employees at tubular products plants in McKeesport and Belleville, Texas. United Steel Workers Union President Leo Gerard says unfair trade by foreign competitors is having a detrimental impact. Tom Conway, International vice president of US Steel Workers, commented about what he believes the government should be doing about the problem.

U.S. Steel announced Monday it is idling its tubular manufacturing plant in McKeesport in early August, affecting 157 union employees.

The Pittsburgh-based company says it is also halting operations at a similar facility in Bellville, Texas, impacting 45 management and 215 rank-and-file workers combined at the two plants.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

 Hundreds of steelworkers and their supporters rallied outside the U.S. Steel Research and Technology Center in Munhall Monday morning to bring attention to what they say is illegal dumping of South Korean steel pipe into United States markets.

Dumping refers to the act of charging a lower price for a product on the international market than on the domestic market. It can also refer to the practice of selling a product for less than it costs to produce.

Steel workers and green industry representatives met today to discuss the future of sustainable resources in the United States.

The panel discussed ways of getting a younger generation of energy leaders and producers, as well as the federal government, more committed to developing a clean economy.

Some believe dependable Production Tax Credits (PTC) could be the answer.

Companies that produce wind, geothermal and other types of renewable energy are eligible for a PTC, which provides a 2.2-cent per kilowatt-hour benefit for the first ten years of operation.

Earlham College / Flickr

The story of Margaret Mary Vojtko, an adjunct professor at Duquesne University has gone viral and it’s sparked a debate about fair compensation for adjuncts.

Dan Kovalick, senior associate general counsel of the United Steelworkers (the union currently seeking to organize adjunct instructors at Duquesne) who wrote the op-ed piece believes that the adjuncts should have an increase in pay and should be entitled to benefits. Kovalick argues that, with heads of Universities making six-figure salaries and in some cases millions of dollars, teachers should be able to get an increase in compensation.

He also points out that parents of students, are spending tens of thousands of dollars on their child’s tuition and seeing that their child’s teachers are not making a livable wage.

Tim Camerato / 90.5 WESA

Thousands of marchers took to the streets for the annual Labor Day parade in Pittsburgh Monday. This year an estimated 85,000 participants in 191 groups were expected to down Grant Street and onto Boulevard of the Allies.

Local politicians and community leaders participated in the parade, including U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Jack Shea, president of the Allegheny County Labor Council, and Bishop David Zubik of the Pittsburgh Diocese.

The theme of taking action today to combat climate change tomorrow ran rampant through Tuesday’s BlueGreen Alliance roundtable on president Obama’s recently released climate change plan. 

While the event spent very little time talking about the specifics of the president’s plan, it did offer several opinions on making sure climate control efforts also benefit the local economy.