WASHINGTON — On a cloudy Tuesday in the nation’s capital, more than 60 union members and supporters showed up to support Ashley Murray, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Washington bureau chief, at the U.S. Capitol Building.
For a time that was brief but reverberated on social media, she was able to walk a picket line with union siblings, as the Washington union movement helped make real one of the oldest of labor pledges, “An injury to one is an injury to all.”
The picket, planned for noon to 1 p.m., attracted a few people at first, then ballooned with the arrival of red-clad members and staff from Communications Workers of America and Association of Flight Attendants led by CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens and her bullhorn.
Soon they were joined by members from units of the Washington-Baltimore NewsGuild’s Jobs With Justice, Politico/EE, Working America, Bloomberg, Center for Public Integrity, the Washington Post and Catholic News Service. A few other Hill reporters came out to give support, as did members of the newly formed Congressional Workers Union.
To chants of “What do we want? Contract! When do we want it? Now!” and “Hey don’t procrastinate, John Block negotiate!” people picketed in front of the workplace of so many Washington-based reporters.
“I would much rather be in the halls of Congress today covering our lawmakers or working on stories about the midterm elections that are in two weeks. A robust, free press and an informed electorate are vital for a healthy democracy,” said Murray, who was part of a team in Pittsburgh that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue.
“Instead of reporting or taking photographs or designing the pages of our daily newspaper, my colleagues are out on the picket line in Pittsburgh because the owner of our news outlet refuses to come to the bargaining table and work out a deal,” she continued.
The union is asking that the bargaining impasse be lifted, its 2014-17 contract be reinstated and health care be restored for the newspaper’s production and advertising units.
The action was cut short — after about a half-hour — by the arrival of the Capitol Police. No arrests were made.