Pittsburghers Try a Community Union

Source: Margot Nikitas, Labor Notes, October 30, 2013

In the face of an awful economic climate and labor laws that too often favor employers, Pittsburghers are trying out a new organizing model: a rank-and-file community union.

The fledgling group brings union and non-union workers together to fight side by side on social justice issues and to seed workplace organizing committees through a Pittsburgh-flavored campaign called “Is Your Boss a Jagoff?”

Fight Back Pittsburgh, formed in January 2013, is an associate membership program of Steelworkers Local 3657, which represents staff at the international union. Already it has more than 250 dues-paying members. Some come from various other unions and community groups; some are otherwise unaffiliated with the labor movement.

Fight Back Pittsburgh operates similarly to a local union, with bylaws and an elected executive board. Members are active in six committees: communications, civil and human rights, fight back at work, membership, neighborhood action, and rapid response.

Dues are calculated as one quarter of one percent of each member’s self-reported monthly income, or members may do one hour of phonebanking per month instead. No expenditures can be made without membership approval. …