“We have an overwhelming mandate to strike. We’re on a train to strike land. That’s where we’re going."By Andy Sheehan

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Labor leaders and elected officials joined together Friday in what’s being called a last-ditch effort to avoid a strike by the reporters, editors and photographers of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The rally brought together a unity council of labor unions from across the region urging the Post-Gazette management to negotiate a contract with its reporters, editors and photographers and avoid a crippling newspaper strike

“This allows our democracy to go forward without smears and lies, and we are here to support all of you,” said Darrin Kelly, Allegheny County Labor Council president.

The Newspaper Guild membership has authorized a strike, which has been approved at the union’s national level. If the parent, Communication Workers of America, give their ascent, a strike could be called at any time.

“We have an overwhelming mandate to strike. We’re on a train to strike land. That’s where we’re going, Andy,” said reporter and union officer Jonathan Silver, who says the guild is asking management one last time to avoid a walkout.

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“Right now the ball is in their court. We have done everything we can and this rally today represents a very powerful and loud last-ditch appeal,” Silver said.

Post Gazette management declined comment, but the rally turned out close to a dozen elected officials, including Lt. Governor John Fetterman and Mayor Peduto, who noted that the staff is being paid less today than a decade ago.

“How many years without a raise?” Fetterman asked.

“Fourteen,” the crowd replied.

“End of story,” said Fetterman. “That’s crazy.”

Peduto is asking management to negotiate.

“Negotiate a fair contract. Come to the table and sit down. Negotiate, because that’s how we do things in Pittsburgh,” Peduto said.