Friday, September 03, 2010

Labor, LSTs, Ships and more

Just in honor of the LST being in town and Labor Day, I thought the image on the left was pretty cool. People do not talk about it much, but it was here in Pittsburgh we did in fact build the Navy's first iron-hulled ship.  History buffs may think the first iron-hulled warships were the Monitor and/or Merrimack which dueled in the Civil War.  In fact it was in a Pittsburgh foundry that the USS Michigan was built and assembled in 1843 and then taken apart to be shipped up to Erie where it would be put back together and sail on the great lakes for an amazing 80 some years.  There is Pittsburgh workmanship for you, though the fresh water helped out a bit I am sure in keeping the ship active so long. 

For labor day tough..  I couldn't quickly find an 'official' list of the largest Labor Day parades, but that is how Pittsburgh's is described typically.  Ironic a bit since few places have seen such large declines in union membership among workers and it really has been a long time since we were anything above average in terms of unionization of private sector workers. If it is a 'union' town it is because of the retirees and their families and not a reflection of the current state of the labor force here.

To confuse the issue even more... Here is something I have never heard anyone talk about, but it seems there is a mild resurgence in organized labor in town.  of if that is a stretch, a long term decline seems to have abated.  Below is what I get (some my past compilation, and some from and the latest data shows another small, but measurable, tick up.  The nadir in private sector unionization looks to have been around 2003 and it sure seemed the trend was going to to put us below 10% going forward.  Didn't happen. Hard to say from the data whether trend up will continue, but going back 30 years, what had been a clear decline seems to have clearly abated over the last decade.  Just fyi.


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