The program explores a wide range of social and economic topics impacting the American workforce, from fast-food counter clerks to C-suite CEOs. It presents a mix of interviews with local and national experts helmed by a rotating cast of hosts including Rosemary Trump, Dr. Charles McCollester, Dr. Patricia DeMarco and Nathan Ruggles.
essentialworkpodcast.com — a timely new podcast series that explores a wide range of topics affecting every working person in the U.S.
“Essential Work: Exploring the Past, Present and Future of Jobs” will present a mix of local and national interviews, along with informed discussion that is lively and relevant.
The premiere episode features author Dr. Patricia DeMarco, Past Director of the Rachel Carson Institute at Chatham University and Vice President of Forest Hills Borough Council, interviewing Amanda Woodrum, Senior Researcher at Ohio Policy Matters, on the new multi-state Re-Imagine Appalachia coalition and its economic initiatives.
Essential Work will be available at regular podcast platforms — including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify.
“Ever since its founding, Pittsburgh has been a center for innovation in industry and labor,” says John Haer, Battle of Homestead Foundation president. “As the U.S. economic landscape becomes even more disrupted and decentralized, we thought it was important to look at what these changes mean for individual workers.”
In addition, notes Foundation vice-president Steffi Domike, each episode highlights Pittsburgh-area service and social action groups making a positive difference in the community. “Essential Work: Exploring the Past, Present and Future of Jobs is more than abstract theorizing about the evolution of work. It provides a clearinghouse for information listeners will find useful here and now.”
The podcast also contains a regular feature by labor music historian L.E. McCullough spotlighting songs and performers connected to the topic. “Work and labor issues have always found their way into the popular culture,” says McCullough. “Using music to educate and spur people to action is as viable today as it ever was.”
Upcoming Essential Work programs examine farmers and the potential for regenerative agriculture, the emerging plastics-alternative industry, jobs in the coming Green Economy, manufacturing in a post-fossil fuel world, the Re-Imagine Appalachia movement and several episodes devoted to the anticipated effects of artificial intelligence on employment and education.
The Premiere Episode of Essential Work!
AUGUST 28, 2020 – 42 MINUTES
This is the premiere episode of Essential Work: Exploring the Past, Present, and Future of Jobs, brought to you by the Battle of Homestead Foundation.
The episode features:
- Discussion between host Nathan Ruggles and John Haer, current President of the Battle of Homestead Foundation, about the organization, it’s mission, and why it’s starting a podcast.
- As part of her regular segment Pathways to a New Economy, looking at labor, environment and health, Patty DeMarco interviews one of the leaders of the new ReImagine Appalachia initiative: Amanda Woodrum, of Policy Matters Ohio. They discuss the origins of this project to forge a new blueprint for the future of the region and beyond, with exciting proposals for developments around the economy, jobs, and the environment.
- Nathan Ruggles talks with Battle of Homestead communications manager and labor music aficionado Larry McCullough, introducing the regular final segment in which they take the show out on a song. They discuss this weeks selection, “Loom Weaver,” along with some of the latest news and events from the organization.
Episode Two: Worker Health and Safety (“We Just Come to Work Here, We Don’t Come to Die”)
SEPTEMBER 05, 2020 – 47:08 MINUTES
Rosemary Trump and Dr. Charles McCollester talk with host Nathan Ruggles about challenges workers face during the COVID-19 pandemic, enforcement of OSHA laws, the role unions play in advocating worker protection, and more.
This is the start of a new monthly feature called Working Over Time, with regular expert commentators Rosemary Trump and Charlie McCollester. Host Nathan Ruggles engages with them on the issue of worker health and safety in the time of a pandemic, with a historic perspective and attention to the role of unions.
Following that is a discussion with Larry McCullough covering free online programs and upcoming events hosted by the Battle of Homestead Foundation.
The show ends as always with an appropriate music selection from Larry. This time: “We Just Come to Work Here, We Don’t Come to Die” composed by Oregon longshoreman Harry Stamper and recorded for Smithsonian Folkways by Pittsburgh singer-songwriter and labor activist Anne Feeney.
“We Just Come to Work Here, We Don’t Come to Die” — Anne Feeney, Classic Labor Songs (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings), 2006. On Spotify.
Episode Three: Compliments of Your Waitress
September 14, 2020 – 40.26 inutes
THIS WEEK’S Essential Work podcast examines the ongoing struggles of food service workers through a conversation with representatives of local nonprofit Restaurant Opportunities Center of Pittsburgh (ROC).
HOST NathanRuggles talks with organizer and former server Bobbit Linskens, and local barista and member of ROC, Abbey Rideout. Topics in this multipart interview include their experiences on the job, the issues they and other workers in the industry have been facing, the particular challenges for restaurant workers under a pandemic, the work ROC has done to help struggling workers, and their hopes for the future.
Episode Four: Nickeled and Dimed
September 20, 2020 33 min
Episode 4 of Essential Work: Exploring the Past, Present, and Future of Jobs, brought to you by the Battle of Homestead Foundation. Includes:A feature interview continuing the focus on the struggles of food service workers with Part 2 of a conversation with the nonprofit organization The Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) PA and their work fighting to improve wages and working conditions.
This part covers the issue of wages and benefits in the industry, through the experiences of Bobbi Linskens, organizer and former server, and Abbey Rideout, a barista and member of ROC.
(Part 3 will appear in a special bonus episode.)Battle of Homestead Foundation Communication Manager Larry McCollough with the latest on upcoming free online events hosted by the organization.
The episode finished with a song selection from Larry, another inspired by the theme of the restaurant worker:“Nickeled and Dimed” from the film “The American Ruling Class”, inspired by the book “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America,” written by the social historian Barbara Ehrenreich in 1998.
Produced by the Battle of Homestead Foundation, Essential Work is online at essentialworkpodcast.com and also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and the Battle of Homestead Foundation website.
Podcast website: Essentialworkpodcast.org
Comment line: (412) 326-9435
Logo by Brittany Sheets – bsheetscreative.com
Original Music by Jason Kendall – Jasonkendallproductions.com