Bakers, sweets lovers and labor supporters joined forces Tuesday for the Solidarity Is Sweet bake sale held at the United Steelworkers Downtown headquarters. The bake sale, an appropriate event for Pi Day (3.14), was a project of USW Local 3657 fundraising and organizing committees co-sponsored with USW District 10.

The sale raised more than $4,600 for the Pittsburgh Striker Fund, which helps meet the financial hardships of the more than 100 union workers who have been on strike from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette since October.

Tables in the USW building’s lobby were topped with all types of goodies — such as tarts, cakes, pies (including pecan, banana cream, vinegar, chocolate key lime), cupcakes, bread, cookies, mini cheesecakes, gluten-free and vegan items, rolls, homemade granola — provided by 55 volunteer bakers. There was even striker mascot “Scabby the Rat” in cookie form among the 150-plus offerings. An additional four donors brought in purchased goods to be sold.

Organizers estimate at least 232 people came by, bought treats and showed their support.

“Our bake sale has shown how strong the solidarity is in Pittsburgh, in southwestern Pennsylvania and the wider labor community with the striking workers at the Post-Gazette. You have put your livelihood on the line for many months to achieve fair working conditions, health care and a fair contact,” said Allison Petonic, one of the sale’s organizers and an at-large member of the Washington-Baltimore NewsGuild/TNG-CWA Local 32035 and a technician on staff with the USW.

Scabby the Rat cookies were sold at the Solidarity Is Sweet fundraising bake sale. (Karen Carlin/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Many of the striking workers were among the bakers and 31 volunteers who helped set up and run the event and clean up afterward. Others giving assistance came from unions and groups including USW Local 3657, Allegheny-Fayette Central Labor Council, Labor Choir, United Museum Workers, Pennsylvania State Education Association, United Library Workers, USW Local 9562, Indivisible Grassroots Pittsburgh, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, Greater Westmoreland Central Labor Council, and Democratic Women of Westmoreland. Former and retired union members, relatives, union allies and political candidates participated as well.

Attendees at the bake sale had the opportunity to sign a placard for the Post-Gazette strikers who were injured during an altercation Saturday night at a Post-Gazette distribution center. It remains in the lobby of the USW building near the Joe Magarac statue for anyone who would like to add a message, Petonic said.

T. Berry, left, of IBEW Local 201 and Beaver-Lawrence Central Labor Council, joins Joyce Gannon, former Post-Gazette journalist, and Ed Blazina, striking PG journalist, as they look over some of the selections at the Solidarity Is Sweet fundraising bake sale. (Pam Panchak/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

When bakers signed up to participate in Solidarity Is Sweet, they also could state why they were getting involved.

Among those comments:

  • “Because I believe the PG workers deserve a helping hand. I want to help.”
  • “It is a small thing I can do to show my support!”
  • “Baking is my love language and I want to use that to support our siblings as they continue to fight!”
  • “This is my community, and these are the folks who work hard to make sure we’re informed about what’s happening here in Pittsburgh. They’re also, literally, our neighbors and our friends. Supporting our colleagues at the PG is simply the right thing to do. They deserve a good contract NOW!”

When Stacie Chandler signed on, she had in mind her late husband, Curt Chandler, who was editor for online innovation and director of photography at the PG before becoming a professor at Penn State. She said he “would have supported his colleagues and I will do so to honor his memory.”

She provided St. Patrick’s Day-themed cupcakes for the fundraiser.

Petonic was impressed by all the support. “We all bake with solidarity in our kitchens and this community’s creativity shined,” she said.

“My co-workers at the Steelworkers, union friends and other community supporters all have deep respect for the work of the union members who are on strike from the Post-Gazette. We’re excited for your fight and want to keep working for the justice you deserve at work.”

Ryan Fairley, right, acting president of United Steelworkers Local 3657, and Laura Tompkins, U.S. Steelworkers 3657 organizing committee chair volunteer, check out customers during the bake sale. (Pam Panchak/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Karen is a copy editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but she's currently on strike. Email her at

Karen Carlin

Karen is a copy editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but she's currently on strike. Email her at