A group of about 80 workers on strike at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and their supporters rallied at 11 a.m. Friday out in front of Downtown’s U.S. Steel Tower, home of UPMC, with a loud message for the $24 billion hospital and health insurance giant:
Stop advertising with the Post-Gazette until the PG settles the strikes with its workers.
The strikes started in early October when the PG refused to pay an additional $19 per person per week for the health care plan of its production, advertising and transportation workers.
They were joined in mid-October by newsroom workers, including designer Natalie Duleba, one of the workers who spoke at the rally.
“We’re here today,” she said, “to say, ‘PG, we need good health care,’ and ‘UPMC, stop advertising with them.’ ”
A couple of leaders of other unions spoke, as did some of the public officials in attendance, including Allegheny County Councilmember Bethany Hallam and new U.S. Rep. Summer Lee.
Forgoing the bullhorn, Lee said, “If I have to lose my voice for something, I’m glad to do it for this cause, because that’s what solidarity looks like!”
She referenced her involvement in working to get UPMC, the region’s largest employer, to improve the benefits and working conditions of its own workers, and she doesn’t want UPMC to hurt the strikers by supporting the PG.
“If they’re going to be delivering life-changing medicine,” she said, “we have to make sure they’re not supporting someone that takes it away.”
The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh sent a letter and a delegation to U.S. Steel Tower earlier this week, hoping to meet with UPMC executives on the matter, but still have not gotten a reply from President and CEO Leslie Davis.
Friday’s rally concluded with a classic chant, led by the guild’s Mike Pound, who asked Lee, “What happens when we fight?”
The crowd’s answer — “We win!” — echoed off the front of the towering steel skyscraper.
Bob, a feature writer and editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, is currently on strike and serving as interim editor of the Pittsburgh Union Progress. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.