Why I strike at the Pittsburgh Post Gazette: For my son & family

The question has often come up since the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh went on strike Oct. 18:

To paraphrase, “Why did you decide to walk out the door?” The answer really comes down to two inescapable aspects of my life.

The first is my family history. One of my grandfathers was president of his local railroad workers union, while the other, like my father, was a union laborer. When I asked my uncle, a member of United Steelworkers, for advice upon the inception of my guild’s strike he simply said, “If your local tells you to walk out the door, you walk out the door.”

The second is my son.

Anyone who has ever met me has witnessed firsthand that I am the type of nauseating parent — in the tradition of Kathie Lee Gifford — who can’t help but talk about their progeny within seconds of any encounter.

If you’ve met Jack, whose mother is an American Federation of Teachers member, you understand.

When I went on strike, I wanted to show Jack what it meant to stand up to a bully, what it meant to have courage to do something that seemed like it was coming against insurmountable odds.

What I realized within hours of being on the line is that each and every member of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh would be the ones to teach him that lesson.

My union siblings have stood on the line in horrendous weather conditions, many dealing with serious health issues. They have built a strike publication, the Pittsburgh Union Progress, which rivals any news organization in our region. Those same professional journalists and peaceful union members have taken part in strike actions that saw their supervisors still working for the Post-Gazette unjustly call the police on them. I’ve witnessed my union siblings display sincere empathy toward the feelings of those who cross a picket line and can’t yet comprehend the courage it takes to fight for their rights against a determined and unjust owner of their beloved newspaper.

I am in awe of the members of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh every day, and they need your support.

Here’s how you can help us:

Donate to our strike solidarity fund, supporting all striking workers at the PG

Subscribe (for free) to the Pittsburgh Union Progress — our striking worker-run publication

Sign our petition demanding C-SPAN remove Allan Block from its board of directors

You can also follow us on Twitter and Instagram and join us on the picket line, set up daily at the North Shore offices of the PG at 358 North Shore Drive, Pittsburgh, Pa., 15212.

Thank you for your support.

In Solidarity,

John Santa

Post-Gazette copy editor and page designer on strike

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