Selected report-backs and statements from PSSC weekly updates – 2015
Sweatshops Will Never be in Style!
About 15 people from USAS Local #31 and #123 paid a visit to the sweatshop-exploiting H&M in the South Side on Saturday [9.26]. While three people delivered a letter to the management, three others snuck up to the second floor to drop a banner that read “Sweatshops Will Never be in Style.” They then regrouped with the others to chant and hand out flyers to customers, briefly ignoring a security guard that was trying to get them to leave. Eventually they left the building but continued to chant and march around the entrance and hand out flyers.
Corporations abuse and exploit the labor of other countries, regardless of how many are impoverished or killed because of their actions. Unless we can hit them where it hurts – their profit margins – they will continue to get rich off the misery of others. People can bring about change by giving these corporations a bad public image, by disrupting business as usual, by getting our schools to stop buying from them, by extending our boycotts, and through direct action. All you need is a few friends.
Bah Humbug, Climate Scrooges! #FloodTheSystem
Tuesday afternoon about 50 concerned community members, environmental groups, and social justice organizations marched throughout downtown Pittsburgh. The march wound through downtown stopping at what participants call Pittsburgh’s top “Climate Scrooges.” Accompanied by a marching band, a 12 foot tall puppet of the Ghost of Climate Future, lumps of coal, and a Climate Scrooge, participants visited the headquarters of Babst Calland Attorneys at Law, PPG, EQT, PNC, and US Steel. Representatives of all these corporations have been appointed to the Allegheny County Health Department’s Air Pollution Control Advisory Committee by Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald after contributing to his campaign.
Participants played off of the Holiday classic “A Christmas Carol” having the Ghost of Climate Future visit each of the corporations and government bodies to show what a future will look like if action on climate change and air quality is not taken seriously. Each corporation and government body was represented by a “Climate Scrooge” and was left lumps of coal with messages attached.
On Friday afternoon [2.27], SEIU Pitt workers, Fight for $15 organizers and workers, students from Panthers for $15, AIDPitt, and PSSC and others attempted to SHUT DOWN the Board of Trustees meeting in retaliation for their selfish and economically violent decision to give $20,000-$70,000 raises to administrators (people that already make six figures!) while allowing the wages of Pitt workers to stagnate. There was a lot of misinformation floating around before hand. The Board of Trustees (illegally) changed the time of their meeting without properly informing the public, protestors were told that the meeting had already ended, and then suddenly that it was a private meeting and that they had no right to attend. Undeterred (but slightly confused), we marched from Posvar Hall to the Cathedral of Learning to attempt to deliver letters from students to the Chancellor’s office, but as soon as we stormed through the one door that the police failed to block we were outflanked and cops managed to surround our group. The police then locked the doors to the building (after we had already entered!). After some tense negotiations, they allowed several students to attempt to visit the Chancellor, who was not present.
We’ll be back! No Justice, No Peace!
Why have a Student Action Forum?
Last week, Pitt’s administration held another student forum to invite us to “help shape Pitt’s future”. Once again, it was clear that there is not enough transparency for students to participate in any meaningful way. And on top of that, there appears to be no plan to further incorporate student voices outside of largely superficial public forums.
In fact, the administration even admitted there is no plan to pay Pitt’s faculty a living wage, no plan to address student concerns about the price of their education, no plan to initiate any long-term environmental sustainability policies, no plan to take tangible steps toward making Pitt’s campus more diverse or safer for women and gender nonconforming people, no plan to ever stop raising tuition… the list goes on.
Instead, we’re supposed to patiently wait for their “working groups” to address pressing issues, or to waste our breath airing our concerns through the “appropriate channels” – like we have been for years now.
Meanwhile, Pitt’s annual operating revenue is nearly $2 billion dollars, and the admins enjoy six figure salaries while working for our “non-profit” university. Our professors’ classes are suffering because many have to worry about how they will eat or pay rent. Our schoolwork is suffering because many of us are burdened with student debt or experiencing discrimination because of who we are. Our learning conditions determine our professor’s working conditions, and vice versa. This concerns everyone. And our concerns will not be addressed unless we have the right to know exactly what the administration is doing with our money – not to mention the ability to influence how our money is spent.
This is a call for another kind of student forum, a forum in which our voices are guaranteed to be heard because we are the ones setting the table.
On Wednesday, November 4th, student organizations, clubs, groups of friends and individual students are invited to attend the first ever Student Action Forum.
[9.4] Super-legit underground organizers with the Autonomous Student Network tried “spectacular-izing” the Towers patio while tabling last Friday, reporting to us:
“While we had a pretty decent crowd of friends helping us hand shit out and chalk up the walls (as many as 20 at one point), we kinda just ended up crowding people and shoving our politics in their face. Yeah we had fun and met some great people, but it kinda felt like we just fed off our own energy and numbers in a way that was more of an echo chamber than a platform. Meet people where they’re at, don’t turn everything into a transaction. The lesson we want to pass on is this: If you want to use space and numbers to your advantage, make it fun and interactive. We we were thinking that next time we could use our numbers to be more disruptive, maybe bring some piñatas, light-sabers, soccer balls, hoops, poi, speakers, or set up a “pin-the-tail-on-Chancellor-Gallagator-the-Alligator” station or some dank shit like that.”