Historic CBA Signed in Pittsburgh

August 28, 2008 -- Pittsburgh UNITED

One Hill CBA Campaign

The One Hill CBA Coalition made history in Pittsburgh on August 19th when members of One Hill, the Pittsburgh Penguins, County Executive Dan Onorato and Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl all signed Pittsburgh's first Community Benefits Agreement.With a hundred community members looking on, the ceremony was held at Freedom Corner, where Hill commun­ity activists drew the line decades ago saying "no more development without our consent." Pittsburgh UNITED and its member organizations joined tens of Hill community groups in signing the agreement.

The One Hill CBA includes the city and county as well as the developer which gives the legally binding power of a CBA to promises long made by politicians for Hill development. It took over a year of contentious negotiations and unprecedented community organizing staffed by Pittsburgh UNITED to reach the moment­ous signing ceremony.One Hill Chair, Carl Redwood shared with the joyful crowd gathered at the signing ceremony at Freedom Corner."This represents a milestone in the development struggle of the Hill District," Redwood said, "but it does not represent the end."

One Hill and Pittsburgh UNITED are now working to develop an enforcement and implementation plan for the CBA.

Here are some highlights from the historic agreement:

  • The Hill community through the One Hill CBA Coalition got control of all future development throughout the Hill District with veto power in a steering committee that will make the master plan.
  • After decades of promises, two million dollars will encourage the establishment of a full service grocery store in the Hill District ($1 million from URA, $1 million from Penguins).
  • All permanent jobs in the development of the new hockey arena and the development of the entire 28-acres surrounding the arena will require owner/operators to honor a card check agreement. All jobs created will pay area wage standards for employees in designated industries ($12 - $30+ an hour with benefits).
  • Hill District residents have First Source hiring rights through a model referral center that will connect Hill District residents with family-sustaining jobs and facilitate the admission of minorities into union apprentice programs. The agreement includes a commitment of $6 million to fund the many community needs outlined by the community in its CBA proposal called a "Blueprint for the Hill".
  • The Hill community will have a long-promised multi-purpose center for youth, families and seniors withreduced fee/no fee memberships to low income youth, and first consideration of Hill applicants for jobs created.

Northside United Campaign

Pittsburgh UNITED is organizing on the Northside of Pittsburgh for a series of CBA's with the developers and corporate tenants in an area dubbed "the Northshore."

The Northshore is currently the home of two stadiums that were built in 2001 to replace Three Rivers Stadium.Heinz Field, home of the Steelers and PNC Park, home of the Pirates, were built with significant public investment-over $380 million (or $495 million in 2008 dollars).

Our local government and the authorities who control the public land where the stadiums now stand have been priming the land for further development.Pittsburgh's first casino is currently being built there, as well as a number of new hotels.We estimate that $130 million in public money has been used to pay for infrastructure such as roads, sewer systems and street lights on the vacant Northshore land.

In March, Pittsburgh UNITED through our Northside United campaign successfully pressured the "public" authority that owns the land to postpone its sale to a hotel developer.The hotel developer was encouraged to engage in CBA negotiations with Northside United. Activists from the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (EBASE) and Community Labor United (CLU) were present during the Stadium Authority meeting and provided powerful testimony about CBA's in their cities.

One of our strongest allies on the Stadium Authority board, Pittsburgh City Councilmember Bill Peduto, was removed from the five-person board by the Mayor days after the land transaction was delayed.

In the months since, Northside United has been working to bring the developer into serious negotiations. Public actions like taking over the developer's office got some negotiations to occur but private pressure by political leaders and big corporate interests ultimately forced the authority to vote on August 6th to sell the land for 1/10th of its market value.

Though we lost that particular fight, the battle is not over.Northside United held up the deal for five months, legal challenges are planned, and ongoing pressure is being placed on the developer to do the right thing.

Northside United is currently organizing significant numbers of churches to join the campaign and a field organizing effort designed to double or triple its turnout capacity. As one Northside United leader stated at a rally on the proposed hotel site, "We did good to get 120 out here today. That gets the politicians' attention. But it's 500 people that worries them and 1000 people that scares them. We have to get scary."

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