Labor | BLOGH: City Paper's Blog |
Thursday, January 18, 2018

Posted By on Thu, Jan 18, 2018 at 12:51 PM

click to enlarge U.S. Congressional candidate Rick Saccone tallying fiscally conservative, anti-union support
Image courtesy of YouTube
A screen shot of the Ending Spending Inc. TV ad supporting Rick Saccone
During his 15 years as a U.S. congressman, former Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Upper St. Clair) held strict socially conservative views, but supported enough liberal economic views that some considered him a moderate. Murphy resigned amidst scandal last year, and a special election for his seat will be held March 13.

Pennsylvania state Rep. Rick Saccone (R-Elizabeth) was nominated by Republicans to compete in the election against former U.S. Assistant Attorney Conor Lamb (D-Mount Lebanon). And recent support from conservative and libertarian political-advocacy organizations suggest Saccone is more economically conservative than Murphy.

Saccone has been endorsed by economically conservative political-advocacy groups FreedomWorks for America and the Club for Growth, groups that have opposed Murphy in the past. And even though Saccone will speak at an event in North Fayette with President Donald Trump on Jan. 18, Saccone's support also suggests that he has different economic policy priorities than Trump, who won the district handily in 2016 thanks, in part, to populist, protectionist economic policies like criticizing free trade.

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Monday, September 11, 2017

Posted By on Mon, Sep 11, 2017 at 5:15 PM

click to enlarge Angry constituents work over Pittsburgh-area Pa. Rep Daryl Metcalfe on social media after anti-Labor Day diatribe
Daryl Metcalfe
Pennsylvania state representative Daryl Metcalfe (R-Cranberry) has been known to take on many controversial topics. He regular shouts criticisms of “anchor babies,” gay tourists, and people who warn of the dangers of climate change. Serving as a state representative since 1999, Metcalfe has been spouting far-right views since before Breitbart existed. In fact, Metcalfe once claimed in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he “was a Tea Partier before it was cool."

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Friday, July 7, 2017

Posted By on Fri, Jul 7, 2017 at 1:22 PM

click to enlarge Raising the minimum wage is gaining support across Pennsylvania
CP photo by Luke Thor Travis
Last November workers took to Downtown streets to fight for $15/hr
For the past several years Pittsburgh and other municipalities around the state have seen a number of rallies, marches, protests and strikes calling for an increase in the minimum wage. The Pennsylvania minimum wage was last raised in 2009, but at $7.25, it’s half the amount activists want.

State Rep. Patty Kim (D-Dauphin County) has spent the past four years trying to change that. In 2013, she first introduced legislation to raise the state’s minimum wage without success. Last month she proposed it again. The legislation would increase Pennsylvania’s hourly wage from $7.25 to $12 in 2018, and then increase it each year until it reaches $15 in 2024.

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Friday, January 22, 2016

Posted By on Fri, Jan 22, 2016 at 2:06 PM

Earlier this week members of the city's Wage Review Committee met with members of Pittsburgh City Council to discuss findings in a report they released in December. The report was the result of two days of testimony from 130 hospital and service workers along with healthcare experts and economists.

click to enlarge Wage Review Committee meets with Pittsburgh City Council
Marla Blunt testifies before city council
"Many hospital workers work so many extra hours weekly to try to make ends meet to support their families. After receiving their paychecks, many workers qualify for public assistance," said Marla Blunt, a food service worker and member of SEIU 32BJ who serves on the committee. "Service workers have to stand in line for hours at a time at food pantries and food banks to feed their families. They are forced with decisions of feeding their children or their lights or gas being turned off. What a choice to have to make."

Among the Wage Review Committee's recommendations is that council endorse the demand of hospital workers to be paid at least $15 per hour. It also recommends that council "actively support workers' right to form a union without interference or intimidation from hospital management," and "incentivize hospital employers to improve pay and working conditions for hospital service workers, through the exercise of its authority in the areas of budgeting, contracting, zoning and building codes, public health and safety."

"I look forward to digesting these recommendations. What I heard today though was really confirmation of already existing suspicion," said Council President Bruce Kraus. "My question is this, where do we go from here. There has to be a concrete plan of action we can take."

Much of the discussion at Tuesday's post agenda meeting focused on hospital service workers, namely those at UPMC facilities who have been working to form a union in an effort to increase their wages and benefits. But the conversation about poor wages and benefits for UPMC service workers has been going on for several years and some at the meeting asked what's next.

"We had a lawsuit against UPMC as the city, and I don't know what's happened. I understand from the papers that the mayor has dropped that lawsuit, and I think that was really a strength that we had," said Councilor Darlene Harris. "So what could we do? We could follow through with the lawsuit we started with." 

The lawsuit launched by former mayor Luke Ravenstahl challenged UPMC's nonprofit status. In his remarks before council, another Wage Review Committee member Nicholas Cafardi, a Duquesne University Law professor, also questioned UPMC's tax-exempt status.

"There are some scholars of nonprofit law, myself among them, that would say that any charity that bonuses its executives out of excess revenues has conferred a private benefit," Cafardi said of the high wages earned by top UPMC executives. "One major healthcare organization in Pittsburgh has a long history of bonusing its top executives. "

The question of UPMC's nonprofit status has been raised frequently over the years. And taking away UPMC's tax-exempt status has been threatened as a form of leverage to improve working conditions for their employees to no avail. 

"Folks working a full work week at a public charity should not be on food stamps or medical assistance, at least not while the top executives use their power over the organization to walk out the door every year with millions," said Cafardi. "Now of course those executives work hard and deserve a market rate wage but not at the cost of depriving those at the bottom of the pyramid of a living wage. That is a private profit, and I believe that it it disqualifies such an organization from tax exemption in Pennsylvania."

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Posted By on Thu, Sep 20, 2012 at 5:22 PM

The United Steelworkers announced this afternoon that pro-union adjunct instructors at Duquesne University, have won a referendum on forming one. Out of 88 adjuncts in the McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts, 59 cast a ballot -- and all but 9 of those were in favor.

But Duquesne will continue to fight against the union anyway, because of Jesus.

More than half of the adjuncts had previously signed union cards. But the school has recently taken to arguing that labor laws didn't apply to it because of centuries-old, deeply cherished beliefs that it had forgotten about until just a couple months ago. The school claims that labor law intrudes on its religious freedoms, including the freedom to assert control over its faculty without union interference. Today's vote does nothing to resolve the religious-freedom question, though the National Labor Relations Board will now be obliged to respond to the school's claim.

The Steelworkers celebrated the win, but expressed frustration with the school. "We're disappointed that [Duquesne administrators have] already announced their intentions to shirk their legal and moral obligations," said Steelworkers attorney Dan Kovalik in a statement.