All posts by carldavidson

Pittsburgh First-Hand G20 Reports: Day Three


Photo: PDA’s Randy Shannon with banner, center, next Michael McPhearson of Vets for Peace with Rick Kimbrough, right.

10,000 Marchers Beat Back
The Steel City’s ‘State of Siege’

By Carl Davidson

Beaver County Blue

Nearly 10,000 protesters marched through the streets of Pittsburgh on the last day of the G20 this Sept. 25 afternoon, delivering a powerful message for global justice that was expressed with a brilliantly colored display of unity, militancy and diversity.

Peace and justice groups demanded an end to wars and occupations and healthcare for all, trade union contingents demanded green jobs and fair trade, women and people of color raised the banners of equality and empowerment, and young people called for a sustainable and liberated future in a new world.

“Will we make any difference?” Rick Kimbrough asked me a few hours earlier as we headed down a parkway heavily secured with police cars at every exit on our way into town. Kimbrough is an old high school friend, an African American steelworker with 37 years in a huge Beaver County mill that’s now shutdown and gone, Jones and Laughlin Steel. When I asked him to join me the day before, he was fired up to go already, until he heard a nephew had taken a bullet as a bystander in a senseless street fight. When he heard his nephew would do OK, he called back, ready to ride in with me and join the United Steel Workers contingent in ‘the People’s March’ at the close of the G20 sessions. Continue reading Pittsburgh First-Hand G20 Reports: Day Three

Pittsburgh G20 First-Hand Report Diaries: Day Two


Photo: USW Blue-Green Rally at G20 for Green Jobs, Clean Energy

Union Teach-Ins, a Nobel Laureate
Ninja Turtles and Steel City Rockers

By Carl Davidson
Beaver County Blue

One of the first things you see entering Pittsburgh from the Fort Pitt Bridge is that the United Steel Workers, headquartered in this working-class town, are determined to deliver a strong message to the G20 bigwigs.

“Jobs, Good Jobs, Greens Jobs Now!’ declared the huge five-story-tall banner draped from the top of the  even taller USW headquarters building that faces the Golden Triangle and its hotels. Despite squads of militarized police, some in their Ninja turtle outfits, no one anywhere near the downtown area can miss it.

Today I’m headed for the day-long ‘Teach-In on Human Rights, Global Justice and the G20’ organized by the USW at their 4th floor conference center. Later in the afternoon on this gray, drizzly and humid Sept 23 day, I plan to hear Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz speak in the low-income Hill District, and attend a labor-environmentalist rally and concert featuring local politicians and rockers. Continue reading Pittsburgh G20 First-Hand Report Diaries: Day Two

First-Hand Report: Demanding Jobs at the G20


Pittsburgh Diaries: Day One
March for Jobs in ‘The Hill’

By Carl Davidson
Beaver County Blue

The ‘G20’ is a big deal in Pittsburgh, with multiple stories in the local press and TV, even though many everyday citizens are wondering what it’s really all about and whether it’s worth all the fuss and expense.

“I know all the big shots from around the world are coming, I see that on the news” my dad told me last week. “But what do they actually do behind all those guards and closed doors?”

It’s a good question. The ‘big shots,’ of course, are all the top political and economic leaders of the world’s nineteen largest economies, with the European Union added to make twenty. And lots of people would love to be a fly on the wall when they start wrangling over who’s really to blame for the latest financial meltdown and how to recover from it.

I told my dad, for starters, that they’re cooking up schemes to have the rest of us pay off the gambling debts of Wall Street speculators while they ship more jobs overseas. That’s why the unions are going to be in streets, along with the environmental people, the antiwar movement, and everyone else. He’s dubious that it will do any good, but I told him I’ll be in the thick of it, and I’d let him know what happens.

Continue reading First-Hand Report: Demanding Jobs at the G20

Behind Pittsburgh’s Becoming the G20 Meeting Site


Photo: Protesters’ ‘Tent City’
Camp for G20 Events

Progressive Activists,
Big Business Converge
on Pittsburgh’s G20 Meet

Jeb Sprague
Inter Press Service

PITTSBURGH, Sep 20 (IPS) – As media and government delegates prepare for the G20 Summit to be held Sep. 24-25 in Pittsburgh, local business and activist groups are promoting clashing visions of days to come.

Hit hard over the last quarter of the twentieth century with a collapsing steel industry, recession and falling population, Pittsburgh is still a decent place to live – often highly rated because of low housing costs.

On one side, Pittsburgh government and business leaders say they have reshaped the city to connect with globalization as a hi-tech, financial and medical industry hub.

On the other side, labor, community, youth and environmental groups are fighting for green jobs and clean energy, while calling into question how government and corporate leaders have dealt with the global financial crisis and urban renewal. Continue reading Behind Pittsburgh’s Becoming the G20 Meeting Site

Watching ‘Capitalism: A Love Story’ with Michael Moore


Michael Moore’s
Labor Fans Hit
Pittsburgh’s Streets
For a Film Premiere

By Carl Davidson

Beaver County Blue

When we heard Michael Moore was going to do a surprise premiere of his new film, ‘Capitalism: A Love Story’ at the AFL-CIO convention Sept 14 and we were all invited, it was a no-brainer—how many names could we nail down in time and how many cars could we get for the drive to downtown Pittsburgh the next day?

We knew union delegates to the convention that could go. But Moore, the California Nurse’s Association, and Leo Girard, head of the United Steel Workers, wanted the area’s battleground fighters for HR 676 ‘Medicare for All’ to have a shot at the seats in the Golden Triangles’ Byham Theater. That qualification certainly fit the 4th CD’s Progressive Democrats of America and its ally, Beaver County Peace Links. They had been working of HR 676 for years at the grassroots, showing Moore’s ‘Sicko’ documentary on health care many times.

For a spur-of-the moment happening, the event was wildly successful. Thousands rallied at the David Lawrence Convention Center, then poured into the evening sunset-lit downtown streets with chants and banners, for a militant and spirited march to the cultural district. Michael Moore, appropriately clad in a bright red shirt and red ball cap, helped carry the front row banner, leading the chants. Continue reading Watching ‘Capitalism: A Love Story’ with Michael Moore

Contending Views at the Beaver County Court House – Progressives Push Back Tea Party

912rally‘Healthcare Not Warfare’ Vigil
Meets the 912 Tea Bagger Rally

By Carl Davidson and Tina Shannon
Beaver County Blue

Things were different than usual in front of the Beaver County Courthouse at 1:00 pm this Saturday September 12th. For one thing, a well-used car, festooned with the message “Support Health Care Reform!” was parked across the street. A Beaver County Transit bus driver and his family had arrived at 11:30 to park it there.

“We knew you’d be here,” his Dad said. “We showed up early so we’d get a good parking spot. We wanted it to be here for you.”

So when some 200 right wing ‘Teabaggers’ showed up for their anti-Health Care and anti-Obama protest at the Beaver County Court House, they found that their message wasn’t unchallenged. Directly across the street were over sixty people with a large ‘Bring the Troops Home Now!’ banner and dozens of placards declaring ‘Healthcare Not Warfare!’ and ‘Honk for Peace!’

The Teabaggers were newcomers to this venue, stirred up by a steady drumbeat from the Fox News network and its over-the-top racist commentator Glenn Beck. Their anxiety over the economic crisis had been stoked into a divisive politics of fear and resentment by the far right wing of the Republican Party.

The vigil for peace and healthcare, on the other hand, had been at this spot every Saturday for the last six years, since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan got underway. Sponsored by Beaver County Peace Links and the 4th CD Progressive Democrats of America, their ‘Honk for Peace’ signs and other placards linking ending the war to health care and supporting the troops had become a well-known and popular fixture to county residents. Continue reading Contending Views at the Beaver County Court House – Progressives Push Back Tea Party

Beaver County Steelworkers at Labor Parade

Labor Day Biden

Photo: Signs at Pittsburgh Labor Parade

Pittsburgh’s Labor Day:
Showing Our Solidarity,
Organizing New Forces

By Carl Davidson
Beaver County Blue

If you want to get a good picture of the hard core of the Western Pennsylvania working class and its concerns, one of the best ways to do it is to take part in the annual Labor Day Parade on a gray and rainy Pittsburgh morning.

Pittsburgh is known as a town that takes its Labor Day parades seriously, with turnouts of upwards of 50,000, rivaled only by Detroit and New York City. This year’s Sept 7 event, which featured an appearance by Vice President Joseph Biden, was only a fraction of that, but still numbered in the thousands, with high spirits and an array of contingents.

The main political concerns of the day were passing the Employee Free Choice Act as a spur to unionization, along with health care reform leading to universal coverage. Many of the unions favored HR676 ‘Single Payer’ Medicare for All as the most effective solution. The purpose of it all? “Solidarity and bringing in new members,” said Teamster Carl Paullet, 75, of Ligonier, PA, to a local news reporter. Continue reading Beaver County Steelworkers at Labor Parade