A handful of Post-Gazette strikers spent about an hour Wednesday evening leafleting outside Heinz Hall, Downtown, to raise awareness about the work stoppage and those the strikers say are responsible for enabling it to last 13 months.
Their target was neither the theater nor the evening’s event — a speaking engagement by former U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger — but a board member of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust: Ronald Davenport Jr.
Strikers passed out handbills to those entering the show with information about Davenport, who not only sits on the board of the nonprofit organization focused on the cultural and economic development of the Cultural District but also is a board member of Block Communications Inc. — the parent company of the Post-Gazette.
Post-Gazette workers in the advertising, mailing, press and transportation unions went on strike on Oct. 6, 2022, when the newspaper wanted to unilaterally change their health insurance. The journalists of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh joined them on their own unfair labor practices strike on Oct. 18, 2022. In January 2023, a National Labor Relations Board administrative law judge ruled in the guild’s favor and said the company is breaking federal law and must bargain in good faith, but the company appealed.
The handbill that the strikers passed out blamed the strike partially on Davenport’s actions but also noted that as chief operating officer of Sheridan Broadcasting Corp., he stiffed local SAG-AFTRA members out of hundreds of thousands of dollars he owed them.
“Davenport must be held accountable for his actions, not put into places of prestige,” the handbill reads. “The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust should ensure Davenport does right by Pittsburgh workers or remove him from its board of trustees.”
Many in the crowd heading into see Kinzinger — one of 10 congressional Republicans to vote to impeach President Donald Trump after the Jan. 6 insurrection — were mostly supportive of the strikers and interested in the handbill, which pointed out that Davenport “remains silent on fellow BCI board member Allan Block, who supported the Jan. 6 insurrection by attempting to manipulate coverage of the event in his newspapers.”
“Ronald Davenport appears to be a perfect fit for the BCI board, where contempt for workers and ripping off people seem to be the main qualifying traits,” said Andrew Goldstein, Post-Gazette unit chair of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh. “But it is disappointing that the Cultural Trust would allow someone who continues to harm so many working families in Pittsburgh to sit on their board despite his very public track record.”
Goldstein added that the public can expect to see striking workers at more Cultural Trust events in the near future.