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Working people deserve the same thing CEOs have: the freedom to negotiate a fair return on our work. But, certain politicians and their greedy lobbyists divide us from each other based on what we look like or where we come from, hoping we look the other way while they take away the freedoms people in unions have won for all of us. Real freedom is about more than making a living; it’s also about having time to take a loved one to the doctor, attend a parent-teacher conference, or retire in dignity.
Pittsburgh United works to address a lack of equity for workers across the greater Pittsburgh region. Workers everywhere are facing the same problem: corporate greed. Workers aren’t able to see a fair return on their labor, putting people everywhere into precarious financial situations and impeding their ability to thrive. Everyone in our community, working or excluded from the workforce, should be able to thrive without the worry of economic constraints.
Family sustaining jobs and the right to organize a union
Whether it’s at Starbucks, Amazon, or the local library, workers around the country and across industries are standing up to demand fair pay and treatment. We know how to fix our workforce crisis: pay people family-sustaining wages and do not interfere with workers exercising their right to organize.
Here in Pittsburgh, our biggest employer and landowner, UPMC, had their best years on record during the pandemic. And yet, the workers who kept UPMC hospitals running in the middle of a global public health crisis didn’t even receive hazard pay. UPMC is one of the biggest reasons so many of our residents are kept in poverty – data shows that unlike Allegheny County’s peer counties, disparities between white and Black Pittsburghers have widened over the years of UPMC merger and acquisition.
Hospital workers are the backbone of our city’s economy, and are at the center of rebuilding our middle class. If we’re going to improve conditions, particularly for Black women in this region, UPMC needs to pay living wages and respect their workers’ right to form their union free from harassment and intimidation.
Paid sick time for every worker
Pittsburgh United led campaigns in the region to pass Paid Sick Days in both the city of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. No one should have to choose between their health, the health of their loved ones, and the ability to put food on the table, especially not those most impacted by the County’s lack of paid sick days — women and people of color.
Both the city and county legislation were needed to ensure everyone has the time they need to get and stay well. But we will keep fighting until every worker has access to paid sick days — without exceptions.
Equitable, transparent, and community-controlled city budget
Too many in Pennsylvania have long suffered from economic and racial disparities – ones that were only exacerbated by the pandemic. The historic American Rescue Plan passed because in 2020, working people of all races stood up, turned out, and demanded a government that works for all of us. Pittsburgh United advocated for ARP funds to be invested in the community members who needed the money the most.
Pittsburgh’s budget is the moral document of the city; it is a direct reflection of our priorities. Given the racial and economic gaps persisting in Pittsburgh, the budget should reflect the City’s commitment to improving the lives of all residents through investment in marginalized communities. We want the city budget to reflect a clear commitment to investing in communities of historic underinvestment, climate resilience projects where flooding and stormwater issues continue to threaten our homes, and affordable housing when people continue to struggle in paying rent and rising property taxes. We also need a transparent budget process that includes community voices and makes it clear who benefits and how contracting decisions are made.
We believe in a Pittsburgh that works for all of us. We can create a City where people of color, poor and working-class people are centered when we make investments where people have what they need, where our neighborhoods and priorities are not pitted against each other, and all of our neighbors can thrive. We have to start by putting our money where our values are.