Today's rally in Downtown Pittsburgh was organized by the Service Employees International Union.
By Andrew Goldstein / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
More than 60 security officers and custodians turned out for a morning rally in Downtown Pittsburgh to protest low wages.
The crowd began gathering around 9 a.m. at Sixth and Liberty avenues until police told them to move. Protesters then marched to Oliver Avenue, where police blocked off a section of the street while rally participants gave speeches. The group disbanded about a half-hour later.
The rally was organized by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
For the last three months, SEIU 32BJ, a Pittsburgh local representing about 1,000 security guards, has been negotiating a new contract with the city’s largest security contractors and building owners.
“The guards are fighting for a fair contract,” said Traci Benjamin, SEIU spokeswoman. “They want family-sustaining wages. It’s hard enough to support one person on less than $10 an hour let alone a family.”
In April, union members in Pittsburgh joined more than 1,500 workers, students and local activists in Oakland as part of a nationwide day of protests that organizers said hit 236 cities as low-wage workers, mainly from the fast-food industry, walked off their jobs to call for higher wages. The Oakland march was more than three blocks long on Forbes Avenue, which was closed for the event, backing up rush-hour traffic.
Unions across the country are pushing for passage of the Pay Workers a Living Wage Act, legislation aimed at raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020.
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