Last week’s Pittsburgh news, today #14: Scabby the rat

For people who might not read the news every day, but would still like to know what's going on.

brian conway photo

Note: In solidarity with striking Newspaper Guild workers, Pittsburgh Independent will not link to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Follow striking workers’ news coverage at the Pittsburgh Union Progress.

Starbucks strikes hit Pittsburgh.  WESA reports on six Pittsburgh Starbucks locations that participated in last week’s daylong Red Cup Rebellion strike. In These Times spoke to strikers nationwide, including one in Pittsburgh, who are fighting to get the multi-billion dollar company to the bargaining table. Thursday’s strike was organized by Starbucks Workers United (SBWU), which represents nearly 7000 Starbucks workers nationwide, including those at 11 unionized locations in the Pittsburgh area. SBWU is a project of Workers United, an affiliate of the SEIU.

Workers picket John Block’s wedding.  As the Independent reported, Newspaper Guild workers targeted Post-Gazette publisher John Block’s wedding reception Saturday. The action was part of an escalation in tactics after two fruitless bargaining sessions last week. Days later, Block, when confronted by a striking worker at a Turnpike rest stop, hit the man with his Wendy’s bag.

Radio workers unionize. By a vote of 26-1, half the staff at Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting (which includes WESA and WYEP) voted for representation by SAG-AFTRA, “a national union for broadcasters,” reports Zach Hirsch.

Museum workers picket. United Museum Workers picketed the Carnegie Science Center Saturday, amid protracted negotiations with Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh toward a new contract. The workers organized under the United Steelworkers two years ago.

Air quality sanctions loom. “Tens of millions of dollars for highway and bridge projects in southwestern Pennsylvania is on track to be halted starting in mid-December,” Laura Legere reports for the Union Progress. At least $37 million in federal funding could be lost in Allegheny County alone if the state does not strengthen oil and gas air pollution rules in accordance with the Clean Air Act. Republicans in the state House, led by Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, have opposed the rule as bad for business.

Redlining lingers. The impact of redlining — racial discrimination that denies mortgages and other financials services to a group of people in an area — persists in the West End neighborhoods, and can be seen clearly through disparities in local school districts, writes Sam Bigham for Gazette 2.0.

Bethel AME keeps waiting. For WESA, Margaret Kraus dives into the fight to restore Pittsburgh’s oldest Black congregation to the Lower Hill District.  Founded in 1803, Bethel AME was displaced from the Hill in 1957, as part of the city and URA’s “urban renewal” efforts. Talks with the Pittsburgh Penguins and the limited partnership redeveloping the site have stalled, WESA reports, with the congregation alleging that the Penguins are dragging their feet.

New life for “incompetent” defendants. Spotlight PA and PINJ teamed up for a report on a new PA Supreme Court ruling, which allows judges to dismiss charges against severely mentally ill defendants “who would never be deemed competent to participate in their own trial.”

Firearm dealers dispute report. For the Trib, Jonathan Silver digs into a new report by the nonprofit Brady group, which traces the origins of guns used in crimes across Pennsylvania. Two Western PA locations stood out among the rest — Anthony Arms in West Mifflin and Braverman Arms in Wilkinsburg, both of which have since closed — but some interviewed for the story criticize the study’s methodology.

Shadyside supplanted?  Qburgh profiles Pittsburgh’s “gayborhoods” and “theyborhoods,” and asks if Millvale has beat out Shadyside as Pittsburgh’s premiere, queer destination.

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He is a 2x 2023 Western PA Press Club Golden Quill award winner, in feature and business reporting. And a 3x finalist in the investigative reporting category.

He is a 2018 first prize winner in environmental reporting from the Keystone Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists for reporting on lead in Pittsburgh’s drinking water.

In 2022 and 2021, he was awarded a grant from The Gumshoe Group to support his investigative reporting.