My colleague Diana Polson brought my attention to Harold Meyerson’s new story in The American Prospect highlighting Pittsburgh as a city with exciting young progressive political leadership and labor-community alliances (e.g., Pittsburgh United). Pittsburgh deserves the credit as do councilwoman Natalia Rudiak, Mayor Peduto, and SEIU 32BJ, which received shout outs in the story.
Meyerson does not have the space to go into everything that’s going on in “The Steel…” I mean “The Eds and Meds City” such as
- the innovative effort to lift wages at the UPMC health-care network, the region’s most important pattern setter when it comes to wages across the low-wage service sector,
- a regional discussion about how employers in the retail sector—a source of many poverty-wage jobs—might implement a “good jobs strategy” that delivers for customers and employers as well as for working families. (Here’s a link to the program from a KRC forum on the “Good Jobs Strategy” in retail with Mayor Peduto.)
- the “New App for Making It in America” project in which Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board, the PA AFL-CIO, CMU, the Keystone Research Center and others are building an innovation eco-system, including skills infrastructure, that enables more startup tech companies to manufacture and grow in Pittsburgh,
- the Heinz Endowments’s “place-based” Hazelwood initiative, aimed at expanding Pittsburgh’s new prosperity to neighborhoods and groups too often on the outside looking in,
- a push to get Alcosan (the Allegheny County Sanitation Authority) to incorporate cost-saving, local-job-creating green infrastructure as a central part of its sewer management efforts,
- organizing efforts among adjunct faculty (http://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/calling-the-question-point-park-adjuncts-eyeing-summer-unionization-vote/Content?oid=1746244).
Put together these initiatives and Meyerson’s examples and you sense that inequality isn’t inevitable—we can get back to shared prosperity. As Meyerson concludes, Pittsburgh and other “…new urban regimes are seeking to diminish the inequality so apparent in cities and so pervasive nationwide. They are mapping the future of liberalism until the day when the national government can bring it to scale.” Or to paraphrase Justice Brandeis, today Pittsburgh is one of America’s laboratories of democracy.