The following was published on July 1, 2021 at Postindustrial, a Pittsburgh-based magazine. Part 2 was published at Postindustrial on July 5, 2021 and is reproduced here.
By Michael Madison
Klavon’s Ice Cream Parlor, a favorite in Pittsburgh’s iconic Strip District, made national headlines recently when the co-owners responded to difficulty in recruiting scoopers by raising wages to $15 per hour.
As an anecdote about labor markets in a Postindustrial city, the episode offers a colorful and tasty illustration of a larger challenge. Regional unemployment in southwestern Pennsylvania has slowly fallen over the past year, but the labor force as a whole hasn’t grown. In a market capitalist economy, open jobs and fewer people to fill them mean that wages rise, other things being equal. That’s the labor story. What about the management story? Will profits fall? Klavon’s says no; its business is fine.
Beyond the economics of ice cream, the Klavon’s story highlights an even more important theme, one that extends beyond rising or falling numbers of workers and well beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Pittsburgh’s future prosperity depends largely on how the regional workforce is compensated. In other words, it depends largely on how Pittsburgh’s workers negotiate for their share of the wealth.
Read More »#PittsburghsFutures: 5/x – A New Pittsburgh Labor Movement, Part 1