Late one Saturday night in April last year about 20 of us — strikers and supporters — converged on a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette distribution site in Monroeville to set up a picket line. We arrived around midnight so we could meet the trucks delivering Sunday editions of the PG. It was dark and cold. We paced around on an empty access road, waiting in a drizzling rain.

Midnight came and went; now it was Sunday. Shortly after 1 a.m. a delivery truck rumbled up the street. We firmed up our picket line to block the vehicle’s path. This is a time-honored tactic — strikers nonviolently disrupting a company’s operations in an attempt to persuade owners to bargain an end to a labor dispute.

The truck approached the line and stopped, the brakes hissing. Now we had a standoff. A few police officers arrived and tried to figure out what was happening. A PG manager showed up. He talked to the police, then hopped on the truck’s running board and conferred with the driver for several minutes before jumping down. Moments later the driver inched the vehicle forward.

It’s in our DNA as a species to avoid being crushed like grapes, so for those of us staring into the truck’s grill, the moment quickly became uncomfortable. Yet the picket line held fast. Again the truck hissed to a stop, this time about 5 feet in front of us.

The mood at grill-level grew tense but oddly celebratory. Edwin Everhart, director of the Pittsburgh Labor Choir, stood with his back to a headlight and banged a bright blue snare drum. Tori Tambellini, barista and organizer of Starbucks workers, proved her badassery by declaring, “I’m not moving.”

Those of us on strike at the Post-Gazette have had plenty of time (a year and a half, as of noon on Thursday) to think about such moments. And about our allies.

Strikers stand to gain from our risky behavior — there’s a chance we could force a resolution to our dispute with the PG, return to work, collect paychecks once again and resume normal lives. But what motivates Everhart and Tambellini and the other supporters? What do they gain from sacrificing a weekend night to stand for hours in miserable weather and be threatened with arrest or a good squashing?

Starbucks worker organizer Tori Tambellini, left, joins PG strikers and supporters in a picket at the Butler Eagle printing facility in Butler shortly before midnight on Saturday, April 29, 2023. (Steve Mellon/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Folks in the labor movement call this solidarity. Strikers tend to throw this word around a lot. In fact, some of our partners and spouses have heard it so much they roll their eyes when we utter the word. But solidarity carries great meaning for those of us who, in October 2022, placed ourselves firmly in the path of a company brazenly barreling through barriers set up to protect workers. We’ve been able to hold the line because we weren’t alone.

Last week we experienced the opposite of solidarity when Teamsters Local 211/205 accepted a deal made in secret with the Post-Gazette. Members get buyouts and their union is dissolved. The agreement is a betrayal to those of us remaining on strike. And it hurts. By contrast, the allies who show up regularly are refreshingly non-transactional.

Of course, we appreciate all who’ve supported us, including labor leaders and elected officials who have taken the strike pledge and are not talking to the Post-Gazette until the strike is resolved. But we hold a special place in our hearts for the everyday people who sacrifice their time and resources to add their strength to our fight — and sometimes to steady us — simply because they see it as the right thing to do. 

We can’t mention all those who’ve helped us in the past 18 months — the list is long, and we’d certainly embarrass ourselves by forgetting to mention some very important people. But we scoured the PUP photo archive for pictures that illustrate some of the more memorable moments and people that reflect what we call solidarity.

Vincent Kolb, pastor of the Sixth Presbyterian Church in Squirrel Hill, speaks at the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh’s 100-day rally at the City-County Building, Downtown, on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023. (Pam Panchak/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

The Rev. Vincent Kolb’s extraordinary speech at our 100-day rally remains one of the strike’s most moving moments. Kolbe, then pastor of Sixth Presbyterian Church in Squirrel Hill, understood our difficulties. He worked his way through college by laboring on the “graveyard shift” at a grocery store. It was a union job — he was represented by the United Food Workers — and twice he was engaged in strikes.

Kolb — we called him “Pastor Vincent” — regularly agreed to speak at our rallies and pickets, even when given little notice. Once he received a phone call on a Friday night about a Saturday morning event. He took it in stride.

Shortly after the 100-day rally, doctors diagnosed Pastor Vincent with multiple myeloma. He has since reluctantly retired so he could join his wife, a tenure-track professor in Charlotte, North Carolina. We think of him, and his commitment to our cause, quite often.

Angel Gober of 412 Justice shows off a supportive flag during a picket at the Butler Eagle printing facility on Saturday, July 22, 2023. 412 Justice brought seven supporters to the picket. (Steve Mellon/Pittsburgh Union Progress)
Mel Packer, in the blue shirt at left, joins others in giving hell to truck drivers crossing a picket line at the Butler Eagle printing facility in Butler on Saturday, July 22, 2023. The drivers were delivering scab editions of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. (Steve Mellon/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

A mid-summer picket and rally at the Butler Eagle, where scab editions of the Post-Gazette are printed, brought together a number of our supporters, including Angel Gober and other members of 412 Justice, a Pittsburgh organization that focuses on economic, environmental and education justice. They helped us make signs and took pride in waving “Scabs break hearts” flags.

Later that night, they joined us, along with Mel Packer and other supporters, in calling out scab drivers crossing the picket line. Packer received his first union card from Teamster Local 99 in Detroit more than 50 years ago. He moved back to Pittsburgh a year later, joined another Teamster local (249) and became an activist rank-and-file member, helping to found Teamsters for a Democratic Union, dedicated to reforming the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

“Labor solidarity is about working class solidarity,” Packer said, “and it is only when we have true worker and class unity that we find ourselves capable of winning the struggles against greedy union busters like the Block family and demonstrating to all other workers that ‘when we fight, we win.’ “

Labor supporter and musician Mike Stout sings and plays guitar as members of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh and supporters of their strike against the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette rally in front of the house of publisher John Robinson Block, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022, in Shadyside. (Alexandra Wimley/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Mike Stout has opened a number of our rallies with a few songs of solidarity — as a musician, he draws influences from folks like Woody Guthrie and Bruce Springsteen. His involvement in Pittsburgh’s labor and activist communities dates back nearly as far as Mel Packer’s — at least to the 70s, when a TV show called “Happy Days” dominated the ratings and steel mills lined Pittsburgh’s rivers.

Stout worked at U.S. Steel’s Homestead Works, where he served as a union grievance man and became a key, radical voice in defending workers when the Pittsburgh area’s mills began closing (he details that history in his book “Homestead Steel Mill: The Final Ten Years.”)

In the decades since the closing of the Homestead Works in 1986, Stout has remained involved in social justice movements — he’s currently one of the organizers of a newly formed organization demanding health care for those affected by the toxic train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.

Allie Petonic, center in red sweater, stands with Post-Gazette strikers and their supporters after a bake sale at the United Steel Workers headquarters, Downtown, on Dec. 19, 2023. (Submitted photo)

No single person has surpassed Allison Petonic as a fierce supporter of our strike effort. A United Steelworkers Local 3657 member, Petonic has joined us on several picket lines (at all hours, we should add), and helped organize events such as bake sales to benefit our strike relief fund. She feeds story ideas to the Union Progress, adds her voice to the Pittsburgh Labor Choir and calls out scabs when she sees them.

During one memorable late-night picket last spring, during a tense standoff between union members and a truck driver attempting to cross a picket line, she led strikers and supporters in an acapella version of “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye.” The stressed driver, sitting behind the wheel, smiled and began singing along. He tapped his horn in time to the music. And for a moment, Allie conjured a moment that felt something like solidarity with someone attempting to cross a picket line.

Amy Davis and her husband, Bob Cronan, acknowledge applause for their support at the “Shame on the Blocks Party” outside PG publisher’s John Robinson Block’s house in Shadyside on Saturday, April 1, 2023. (Alexandra Wimley/Union Progress)

Amy Davis of the Baltimore Sun Guild began sending emails of support and arranging donations to our relief fund shortly after the strike began. A year ago, she and her husband, Bob Cronan, traveled to Pittsburgh to attend our “Shame on the Blocks Party” outside of the house of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette publisher John Robinson Block in Shadyside. The couple also walked with us on a picket line outside the PG’s North Shore headquarters.

We could go on. Dozens of organizations and individuals have donated food to our picketers. Others have invited us to speak — in churches, during meetings and other gatherings — so we could explain why we’re on strike. Just a few weeks ago members of IBEW Local 29 joined us on a picket line and then invited us for a few beers at their favorite West End watering hole.

But we’ll stop here. Just know that we appreciate each of those efforts. They’ve sustained us through this long and difficult fight.

Steve is a photojournalist and writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he is currently on strike and working as a Union Progress co-editor. Reach him at

Steve Mellon

Steve is a photojournalist and writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he is currently on strike and working as a Union Progress co-editor. Reach him at