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Pittsburgh Mayor Peduto offering support to union, nonprofit groups

| Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, 3:15 p.m.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said Thursday he wants city government to give more of its infrastructure, education and economic development investments to neighborhood groups rather than large developers.

“Each of these little changes that are happening in each of these little neighborhoods can change the entire landscape and the entire view of the way the city looks,” he said.

Peduto, who took office Monday, spoke to a crowd of about 150 at an event organized by Pittsburgh United, a coalition of labor unions and nonprofits, at the Hill House Association on Centre Avenue.

He pledged to partner with grassroots efforts aimed at improving the city block by block. For example, instead of one developer receiving a $30 million subsidy from the city, Peduto said he would rather see 60 different, smaller projects get $500,000 apiece.

One of Pittsburgh United's priorities is urging UPMC to allow service and maintenance workers at two of its hospitals to secure union representation. A dispute between the health care giant and its employees is unfolding through a complaint workers filed with the National Labor Relations Board alleging UPMC has engaged in unfair labor practices to prevent unionization.

UPMC officials have said the claims are unfounded and they look forward to defending themselves.

Peduto said he “absolutely” supports UPMC employees, saying workers are not only entitled to the right to unionize but it's “part of Pittsburgh's proud history.”

“At the top, we've now got leadership in council and the mayor's office to support that,” said Sam Williamson of Service Employees International Union 32BJ, “and to support communities that have struggled together to create better jobs, and move forward together.”

Melissa Daniels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8511 or mdaniels@tribweb.com.

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