By Elsa Buehler | Staff Writer
Marla Blunt: member of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), political organizer, fighter for a living wage and fair healthcare and Duquesne’s vegan/vegetarian chef. Blunt puts her all into her cause with her union and the city of Pittsburgh.
Recently, Blunt was featured on TBS’s late-night talk show and satire program, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, hosted by the comedian who formerly appeared on The Daily Show. Marla was a part of a segment on last Wednesday’s episode entitled “The Actual Forgotten Working Class.”
In the segment, Bee plays herself, a journalist, and is seeking out a member of the service-working industry in Western Pennsylvania to interview. Bee feigns dismay when all the white, male, blue-collar workers are taken until realizing that she can tell the story of the working class that the rest of the journalism industry seemed to forget about.
The remainder of the segment involves Bee discussing the service industry and the need for a fair living wage with a panel of service workers — this time featuring a more diverse forum. Blunt and the other panelists discuss the diversity of the service work industry. To name just a few, this field includes steelworkers, security guards, mental illness service workers and hospital workers. They shared stories of women they know who are not receiving a living wage and emphasized the need to secure a living wage for these women, for their dignity and for their families.
Blunt was approached about appearing on the show through her union, the Service Employees International Union. With SEIU, Blunt does political organizing work and sits on a living wage board with other notable community members. Her main platform is to ensure that the service workers of Pittsburgh receive a living wage, fair healthcare and affordable housing.
Blunt’s work with the SEIU aims to directly benefit members of Pittsburgh’s service industry. Many workers, Blunt said, grew up here and built these communities, yet are finding it hard to stay here. Pittsburgh’s economy is growing with the expansion of companies like Google and Amazon, raising the cost of living for working families. Also, since Pittsburgh is a city born from the hard work of steel workers, many community members voted for Donald Trump hoping he would fight for the working class. These people, Blunt said, are not seeing the changes promised to them coming to fruition.
Blunt is proud of the message that the final product of the segment delivers. She worries that the term “service work” reminds most people of a faceless “Jimmy the coal miner” — a Billy Joel, blue-collar and all-American man. Bee, Blunt and the other women of the segment wish to remind you of a bigger picture.
The service industry is truly a melting pot of workers and of work, said Blunt. She believes that Bee’s segment reminds viewers of this fact, and especially helps to bring a louder voice to the “Actual Forgotten Working Class.”
Blunt believes that Duquesne has set a great standard of living wage that gives their employees respect, dignity and the ability to care for their families. She knows that for many students, Duquesne is a home away from home, and she says she does her best to make it homier.
Marla loves the student community and the community at Hogan, saying, “I try to give all of me through food and show love to everyone.”
To see the segment for yourself, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEc29-83f8s&feature=youtu.be.