Last week’s Pittsburgh news, today #16: in search of scabs

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

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NewsGuild protest, Duquesne Club, site of John Block's wedding reception, Nov. 19, 2022. photo by brian conway.

Electric rates surge. Duquesne Light customers face rate increases over 20% this winter. Why? Natural gas prices have increased, especially as liquefied natural gas is shipped overseas to Ukraine. Jillian Forstadt reports for WESA

Post-Gazette seeks scabs. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is hiring “scab” replacements for striking reporters, sales reps and others. Newspaper Guild members have been without a contract since 2017. Under federal labor law, striking workers cannot be discharged or permanently replaced. Angela Fu reports for Poynter

Shapiro backers reap rewards. Call it favoritism, or politics as usual. Governor-elect Josh Shapiro’s transition team is packed with big donors, lobbyists, “Republican power players and former corporate executives.” It’s “completely expected,” says one good governance advocate, which doesn’t really make it any better. Katie Meyer and Stephen Caruso break down the issue for Spotlight PA.

New shelter reaches capacity. It only took about a week for Second Avenue Commons to hit maximum capacity. The new shelter, operated by Pittsburgh Mercy, is designed to accommodate about 90 people experiencing homelessness, with overflow capacity for another 30 during winter months. Julia Felton reports for the Tribune-Review

Transit OT adds up. As of September, Pittsburgh Regional Transit had paid $3.875 million in unscheduled overtime fees, a figure that will likely rise to over $5 million by year’s end. 48 drivers were fired earlier this year for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine. According to a new study, 96% of public transit agencies nationwide are experiencing an operator shortage. Ed Blazina reports for the Union Progress.

Libsekind talks new Tree of Life. David Libsekind, the architect chosen to design the new Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill, was in Pittsburgh last month for a talk at Carnegie Mellon. The Polish-American architect is best known for his work at One World Trade Center in New York, the Jewish Museum of Berlin, and other major museums and landmarks worldwide. David Rulo reports for the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle.  

Council’s cop concerns. Pittsburgh City Council members expressed concern that city police, budgeted for about 900 uniformed officers next year, is down to 836 members in its ranks. Retirements and other departures have outpaced new hires, and there is talk of two new recruitment classes to make up the shortfall, the first of which will begin next summer. (Results from a staffing study of the police force are due later this month.)  Kiley Koscinski reports for WESA.

The race to succeed Summer. City Paper profiles the four women hoping to replace newly-elected US Rep. Summer Lee in the PA House of Representatives – NaTisha Washington, Bhavini Patel, Ashley Comans, and Abigail Salisbury. The special election will take place in 2023 at a date not yet scheduled. Jamie Wiggan reports for the City Paper.

Federal highway funding salvaged. An update on news from LWPNT #14: hundreds of millions in federal funding for state highways and other infrastructure were at risk unless the state updated its air pollution rules. Governor Tom Wolf bypassed the legislature and used an emergency measure to pass the new standards, ensuring the money won’t be withheld. Allegheny County alone stood to miss out on some $37 million in funding. Laura Legere reports for the Union Progress.

Reynolds wants out. Pirates All-Star outfielder Bryan Reynolds wants to be traded from the team. The Pirates have a .386 win percentage during his 4 seasons with the Buccos.

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