Groups launch coalition to defend traditional industries

By Chrissy Suttles | Ellwood City Ledger

Organizers of Pittsburgh Works Together spoke to a crowd at the city’s Heinz History Center about the necessity of construction, manufacturing and building trades in the region.

PITTSBURGH — A coalition of labor, business and civic leaders on Thursday launched an organization to advocate for western Pennsylvania’s traditional and manufacturing industries.

Organizers of Pittsburgh Works Together spoke to a crowd at the city’s Heinz History Center about the necessity of construction, manufacturing and building trades in the region. The new group is the vision of The Builders Guild of Western Pennsylvania — an initiative of local unions and contractor associations, the Pittsburgh Regional Building Trades Council, major companies and civic leaders.

It’s a response to a growing “anti-working family campaign by various interest groups who have targeted steel, natural gas, construction and other traditional industries in an effort to gain political and economic power in the region,” according to members, who said they feel these industries have been unfairly criticized in efforts to create “a new, modern Pittsburgh.”

Nick Deluliis, CNX Resources Corp. CEO, said the initiative is about establishing a future that works for everyone, not just “elites and extremists.”

“Pittsburgh Works, to me, is about one thing in the end, and that’s fighting for the soul of this region,” he said.

Scott Buckiso, U.S. Steel’s chief manufacturing officer, touted steel’s critical role in manufacturing and national defense.

“Steel is the foundation on which modern societies have been built,” he said. “Our nation’s critical infrastructure and energy independence depends on it. It includes everything from our roads and bridges to the pipes that deliver water supply.”

It’s unclear what involvement the group will have in regional lobbying, but Pittsburgh Works Together executive director Jeff Nobers, using Beaver County’s Shell cracker plant as an example, said there should always be jobs available for those who want to work in traditional labor. Without blue collar, there’s no white collar, he said, adding that high-tech and emerging industries will always require infrastructure.

“This is not an abstract creation to defend traditional industries,” he said. “Working men and women all breathe the same air, we drink the same water, we eat the same food. We all want to live, eat and work in a clean environment. We come from different perspectives. We come from labor unions, corporations and different political persuasions, but we all have a love for our region.”

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