Help out people in our community… But don’t forget to ask why they’re poor.

A few weeks ago we learned that this year’s United Way pledges from the USW staff are down more than 20% for the year.  Need in our community, meanwhile, is through the roof.  I don’t have to give you statistics or numbers to let you know that people in our community are hurting, just look across the street from our building at about 6 o’clock every day.  Five years ago we would see a dozen or so people in line as the local churches distributed free meals and essential supplies.  Now we’re seeing crowds of 100 or more standing out in the cold every night just to get a warm meal.

The United Way of Allegheny County is a local organization that does pooled fundraising and distributes funds to organizations in our community that help people who are struggling to get enough to eat, keep a roof over their heads, keep their electricity on, and get job training to improve their situation.  For more information on the United Way check out www.UnitedWayPittsburgh.org.

You can make a recurring pre-tax contribution to the United Way by pledging online athttps://doyouliveunited.org.  If you choose to pledge online, you can select an amount to be deducted from your paycheck (it will be deducted pre-tax).  Any amount, from $1/paycheck to $100/paycheck helps.  Your user ID is USW + your first initial + your last name (for instance my ID is USWpyoung) and your default password is usw-united.  The process will take about 5-10 mins.

Pledge Online to the United Way
Visit https://doyouliveunited.org
Username: USW + First Initial + Last Name
Password: usw-united 

We realize that these can be tough economic times for some folks—some of us have kids in college, sick parents, and other tough financial situations.  If you can’t afford to contribute financially, that’s fine.  If you can afford it, please think about giving what you can.  Also, you may want to think about pledging some of your time as well.  You can find volunteer opportunities online at:http://www.unitedwaypittsburgh.org/index.php/give-help/volunteer

Let’s not forget to ask why they’re poor.  
As we come together to help out poor and struggling people in our area, we can’t help but ask why so many people are struggling so much.  Just look across the street at 6pm as hundreds of people line up in the cold for a warm meal (in many cases their only warm meal that day) in front of the Catholic Diocese office.  They’re standing there in the shadow of the PPG Tower struggling just to survive; meanwhile PPG’s CEO Charles Bunch took home $14.3 million last year.  His pay alone could put 400 people to work with a decent wage for an entire year.

The problem isn’t the lingering recession — this contrast existed long before the financial collapse hit — the problem is the economic system we’re living under is failing people in our community.   So while we come together to make sure that our neighbors have enough to eat and have a warm place to sleep, let’s also fight to change the system that allows this inequity to happen.

Here in Local 3657 we’re taking on an exciting program to fight back against economic inequality and challenge the inherent contradictions in our economic system.  It’s called Fight Back Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh-Based Chapter of the Steelworkers Associate Member Program.  Local 3657 members are teaming up with our sisters and brothers in the Pittsburgh community to mobilize around issues that matter to working people in our community and fight a decent standard of living for working class people in Pittsburgh.

If you haven’t had an opportunity to learn about the program visitwww.FightBackPittsburgh.org or email members of our Organizing Committee atinfo@fightbackpittsburgh.org.

Let’s take care of our sisters and brothers who are struggling across our community, but let’s not stop fighting until there’s nobody in line across the street, until the shelters are empty, and until everyone who wants to work has a decent and meaningful job.

In solidarity,

Patrick Young

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