Last week’s Pittsburgh news, today #23: bad faith negotiations

For people who may not read the news everyday, but would still like to know what's going on in Pittsburgh.

Reflection of Downtown Pittsburgh in the Allegheny River along The Three Rivers Heritage Trail.
Reflection of Downtown Pittsburgh in the Allegheny River along The Three Rivers Heritage Trail. Photo © Tessa W., via Pittsburgh Media Partnership.

Newsguild fights another day: An administrative law judge from the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Post-Gazette ownership “didn’t negotiate in good faith, illegally imposed working conditions and unlawfully surveilled workers engaged in union activities.”  Ownership must also “make its employees whole for any loss of earnings and other benefits that resulted from its unlawful unilateral changes.”

The ruling can only be enforced by later appellate courts, and ownership is likely to appeal – a process that could drag on for months, if not longer. Still, it’s a major boost as the strike passes 100 days, and perhaps the biggest victory in the nearly 90-year-old Guild’s history. Jon Moss and Steve Mellon report for the Union Progress.  RELATED: NiemanLab’s Sarah Scire looks at “the first newspaper strike of the digital age.”  MORE: Striking PG journalist Noelle Mateer stumps for local journalism in BELT Magazine.

Council ditches curfew bill. A bill to reinstate youth curfew enforcement has been abandoned. Council “voted down the bill at the request of the proposal’s sponsor, City Council President Theresa Kail-Smith.” Kiley Koscinski reports for WESA. MORE: Look instead for efforts to fund recreation centers with social services and other activities for kids. Julia Felton reports for the Trib.

Sizing up nonprofits’ profits. The task of auditing Pittsburgh nonprofits’ charitable status is akin to Congress taking on Big Tobacco some 20 years ago. Jon Moss breaks down the “massive” legal challenge as well as the stakes for the Union Progress.

Feds scrutinize county algorithm. An update on the first item from our very first LWPNT (🥲): the Justice Department is “scrutinizing” the allegedly biased Allegheny Family Screening Tool: AI “designed to assess a family’s risk level when they are reported for child welfare concerns in Allegheny County.” Several civil rights complaints were filed in the fall about the algorithm, Sally Ho and Garance Burke report for the Associated Press.

Drillers ditch gas wells. A new DEP report delves into the oil and gas industry’s “culture of non-compliance,” including more than 3,000 newly-abandoned wells and other failures in reporting. According to the article, “Gov. Josh Shapiro stressed accountability for polluters while Attorney General and during his campaign, but his team did not return multiple requests for comment.” Rachel McDevitt reports for StateImpact PA

Downtown’s teenage influx. In the first of a three-part series, some small business owners express displeasure that high school kids are back Downtown in droves. An-Li Herring reports for WESA.

Pt. 2. Sarah Schneider talks to teens about what there is to do after school.

Pt. 3. Oliver Morrison spends time with a Downtown violence intervention officer.

Profile in courage. For over 20 years, 97-year-old Marion Damick has been “a tireless advocate for criminal justice reform,” and a mainstay at monthly Jail Oversight Board meetings. Amy Whipple reports for Pittsburgh Institute for Nonprofit Journalism

Pittsburgh honors August Wilson. In conjunction with University of Pittsburgh’s Library System, “Highlights from the August Wilson Archive” will be on display all of February in the City-County building for Black History Month, including “photographs, playbills, handwritten notes, play materials and other memorabilia.”  Julia Felton reports for the Trib. 

PublicSource CEO departs. PublicSource CEO Eric Zack has resigned. Zack, who took over at the nonprofit Pittsburgh news site just 9 months ago, left for undisclosed personal reasons. Charlie Wolfson and Rich Lord report for PublicSource. RELATED. From PublicSource’s Adam Smeltz: “The Great Resignation opened top jobs at nonprofits — and is proving a giant headache for those who filled them.”

Classified show-and-tell. With misplaced classified documents all over the news, reminisce over the time a McCandless middle school student took Jimmy Carter’s press secretary’s briefcase filled with classified documents into show-and-tell.  (Spoiler: she got a “B”):  Calvin Woodward updates a 1984 report for the AP.

Finally, scientists believe Earth’s core has stopped rotating, and may have reversed direction. Do with this information what you will.

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

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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.