Striking Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Member to Attend State of the Union
CWA Press Release:
February 6, 2023
James “Hutchie” VanLandingham, with a nearly 30-year career at the paper, will represent his fellow workers who have been on strike for over four months
PITTSBURGH, PA – Congressman Chris Deluzio (PA-17) announced today that James “Hutchie” VanLandingham, a CWA member who has been on strike from his job as a mailer the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette since October 6, 2022, will be his guest at the State of the Union on Tuesday.
The strike includes workers across all departments of the newspaper, represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA), the Newspaper Guild-CWA of Pittsburgh, and the Teamsters. It is the City of Pittsburgh’s first major newspaper strike in 30 years, and began after the paper’s owner, Block Communications, effectively cut Post-Gazette production, distribution, and advertising workers off from their health care plan by refusing to pay a $19-a-week premium increase. VanLandingham has been living without healthcare coverage since.
Mr. VanLandingham is a third-generation employee of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and has worked as a mailer at the Post-Gazette for 28 years. Between him, his father, and grandfather, the VanLandingham family has given around 100 years of loyal employment to the newspaper, and all have been proud union members. Hutchie is on the picket line four hours a day, six days a week, and his story was featured in a radio ad and video supporting the strike.
“I am on strike to fight for all the rights that we, as a union deserve, and for the respect that all workers deserve from any company,” said James “Hutchie” VanLandingham. “My father and grandfather fought for decades for the benefits that we have today, and I will be on strike for however long it takes to honor that work and achieve honest wages, decent healthcare, and a good way of life. I am grateful for the chance to attend the State of the Union and show the world what it means to be a union person, and what it means to have solidarity and to support each other as a united front. I am here to tell the millionaire Block Family that we are not backing down, and that we are bringing our strike to the highest level. Only together can we stop big corporations from trying to use their power to squash us. Only together can we win the battle for workers’ rights and a better workplace.”
The unions have been attempting to bargain new contracts, and have been working without collective bargaining agreements for over 5 years. Workers at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette have not seen a wage increase in over 15 years.
“Workers like Hutchie VanLandingham and his fellow workers are on strike from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to fight for basic dignity, respect, and benefits in the workplace that every single employee deserves,” said Congressman Chris Deluzio. “As their strike stretches into its fourth month, in a show of solidarity, I invited Hutchie to join me down in Washington at tomorrow’s State of the Union so he can bring their story of struggle to the national stage. His story is one about hard work and how a union job can uplift and be a source of pride for families. It is also a story about how a company’s owners, despite generations of worker loyalty to that newspaper, have put their greed and lust for profits above all else.”
The Congressman continued, “Hutchie and all workers at the Post-Gazette deserve better. Every single worker in America deserves better. We need to attack head on the raw corporate power that is sucking the lifeblood out of our workers and our communities. When corporate jagoffs like the Post-Gazette owners at Block Communications come for my people and my region, trying to destroy a union and workforce behind a treasured newspaper, I will be there in Congress to fight them, standing with workers and for the union way of life. It is an honor to host Hutchie at this year’s State of the Union to put workers’ rights and the labor movement in front of the President and in the national spotlight.”
"Congressman Deluzio is a true fighter for working people and has stood alongside the striking Pittsburgh Post-Gazette workers from the first day they were on the picket line,” said Communications Workers of America President Chris Shelton. “As a union organizer and someone who cares deeply about our democracy, Congressman Deluzio understands that union membership and locally produced independent journalism are critical for healthy communities. We appreciate his continued support and thank him for raising awareness of this important strike."
“Hutchie is dedicated to his co-workers and to the Pittsburgh community,” said Communications Workers of America District 2-13 Vice President Ed Mooney. “He represents what this strike is all about – hard working people who deserve respect. I thank Congressman Deluzio for showing these striking workers the respect that the Block brothers, who own the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, have failed to show them. He knows that Pittsburgh is a union town and that the city’s future depends on creating and sustaining good, family-supporting, union jobs.”
Block Communications’ billionaire CEO, Allan Block, continues to also serve as Chairman of the Board at C-SPAN. CWA has demanded his removal at C-SPAN and workers have launched a petition, given Block’s refusal to bargain with his workers and failure to provide them with basic necessities like raises and healthcare, as well as alarming behavior including support the January 6 insurrection and attempts to interfere in unbiased reporting in favor of former President Trump.
Just a few weeks ago, a judge found that Block Communications had broken the law by refusing to negotiate with union workers for years, which the billionaire Blocks have vowed to appeal. Congressman Deluzio has stated that he will continue to monitor the situation and stand in solidarity with the striking workers of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Striking Post-Gazette workers continue to provide the community with important community news and information about the labor dispute through the Pittsburgh Union Progress, part of the Pittsburgh Media Partnership that encourages collaboration and advocates for local journalism.
About CWA: The Communications Workers of America represents working people in telecommunications, customer service, media, airlines, health care, public service and education, manufacturing, tech, and other fields.