“Why I strike” by Kitsy Higgins at the Pittsburgh Post Gazette

As our strike at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette began six months ago, I never considered staying on the job, crossing the picket line. I had worked two union jobs for five years. The company took our health care away, and we hadn’t gotten a raise in 16 years. So striking was an easy choice.

Companies like the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette have the money to spend. The PG’s parent company netted $490 million in 12-month profits as recently as 2019. They currently rent five large offices in the Pittsburgh area. They’re paying an anti-union security company to film and follow me, my fellow strikers, and my kids every time we attend an action to fight for our rights and dignity.

Yet the owners can’t afford $80 monthly for affordable health care, or a 3% raise for each employee? How does that make sense?

But this is about about more than just us at the Post-Gazette. About a month ago, I learned that UPMC – a PG advertiser and the largest employer in the state – has saddled employees with insurance deductibles of more than $14,000 a year. I realized then that this was not a PG problem, but something much bigger. These insurance plans with high deductibles benefit someone. It’s not us.

Why would a company offer an insurance plan that their employees could go into debt over? It’s about control of us and our lives.

I have two kids, ages 10 and 6. So I know mine and my co-workers’ fight will impact current and future generations. This is their strike, too.

Working a full-time job at the Post-Gazette – or anywhere! – you would expect to be able to cover your bills, care for your family, have affordable health care, and have a little extra to do what you enjoy. We make the owners their money. So that much is the least we deserve. It’s what we demand.

For current & future generations, I’m staying strong until we get what we’re owed for our hard work.

The PG is looking for a road map to bust its unions. We can’t give them that. Every day, I choose to stay on the picket line because I refuse to give them that. They’ve already taken too much. Our rights in the workplace, our union, our health care — they’re all too important to me.

We all want to make a difference in the world, whether big or small. And I know that holding the line helps others. I’m a tiny ripple in a vast ocean. If I choose to leave the strike, I will create a destructive wave that can hurt current & future generations. Yet my standing and staying here promises calmer waters for us all some day.

If you’re a co-worker and fellow striker reading this, I want you to know that I am SO proud of you. Thank you for what you do! To current and future union siblings, keep standing up for what we deserve!

Please donate to our strike solidarity fund today. Today, you can help us win for the present and the future.

In Solidarity,

Kitsy Higgins

Advertising account representative, On Strike

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