Pittsburgh city council, union members call for middle class Bill of Rights

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Pittsburgh City Council members and union leaders called today on the federal government to enact a "Second Bill of Rights" to protect the middle class.

The concept, traced to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, would include a living wage, education rights and "full participation in the electoral process."

Thousands of union supporters last month demanded the Second Bill of Rights during a rally in Harrisburg. City Council President Darlene Harris said she and her colleagues must advocate for it, too.

"It's been tough times for American workers," Mrs. Harris said at a morning press conference with council members Ricky Burgess, Patrick Dowd and Corey O'Connor.

Council later adopted a proclamation calling for the Bill of Rights, and Mrs. Harris called on other municipal governments to do the same.

Jack Shea, president of Allegheny County Labor Council, said workers across America are coping with wage cuts and lost pensions.

"Any more, it's like we're hanging on by the skin of our teeth," he said.

In Pennsylvania, he said, the middle class also faces "voter suppression" -- a reference to the new voter ID law.

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Joe Smydo: jsmydo@post-gazette.com or 512-263-1548.


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