Labor

Early Unions Collectively Bargained For Their Safety

Oct 16, 2013
U.S. Office of War Information / wikipedia

America’s earliest unions of the 19th century were connected to craft and trade guilds. But with factory workers facing terrible working conditions such as 12+ hour work days, and 7 day work weeks in cramped, dangerous spaces, their only choice was to come together to collectively bargain for their safety.

When Crystal Eastman, Co-founder of the American Civil Liberties Union visited Pittsburgh in the 1920’s, she reported 526 industrial related deaths in Allegheny County within one year.

According to Dr. Charles McCollester, a former professor of Industrial and Labor Relations at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and author of The Point of Pittsburgh, about 3,000 mining industry workers died each year, between 1890 and 1920.

The Future State of the Unions

Oct 16, 2013
White House Photo, PD / wikipedia

In recent decades, America has seen a sharp decline in union membership. In the 1950’s, 35 percent of American workers were members of a union, today that number is down to 11 percent.

According to labor author, commentator and speaker Philip Dine, President Reagan’s crackdown on unions in the 1980’s demonstrated that the old rules of collective bargaining no longer applied.

The Business of Labor Day

Aug 27, 2013
Curtis Publishing / Wikipedia

More than 34 million Americans are projected to travel 50 miles or more this Labor Day weekend. This brings big profit opportunities for  businesses throughout the country.

Since its inception in 1882, the holiday has been marked by icons like Rosie the Riveter, barbecues and family gatherings.

Rebecca Harris, Director of the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Chatham University, says Labor Day weekend travelers will spend an estimated $800 on dining, shopping and gifts.

Pittsburgh’s annual Labor Day parade is considered the second largest in the U.S., behind New York City.

Thousands of union members and officials will converge on downtown Monday morning to celebrate the history of the labor movement, American workers and to call attention to specific issues.

“We’ll be discussing a number of issues, one of them is transportation funding, another one is the right to organize as it relates to UPMC, and most of the issues that labor feels are important,” said Jim Kunz, business manager of Operating Engineers Local 66.

A spokesman for the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh says 33 unfair labor claims made by union organizers have been withdrawn following a review by the National Labor Relations Board, and the casino hopes to resolve 17 remaining claims.

Noah Brode / 90.5 WESA

Local union leaders gathered in Market Square on Monday with the families of workers who have died on the job in Allegheny County, honoring them with a Workers' Memorial Day.

According to the event's organizers, 12 people died on the job in Allegheny County from May 2012 to the current month.

Deanna Garcia/90.5 WESA News

In the midst of Women’s History Month, about a thousand women, and many men, gathered in Pittsburgh for the United Steelworkers International “Women of Steel” conference. The keynote was delivered by US Representative and head of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

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