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Google upended Pittsburgh – can the city's working class roots transform the tech industry?

An attempt by contract workers to unionize has brought the city’s industrial past crashing into the 21st century

The first time Nabisco tried to close its Pittsburgh factory in 1982, a coalition of labor unions and politicians successfully fought back, preserving hundreds of jobs and the smell of baking cookies in the city’s East Liberty neighborhood. Sixteen years, three free-market presidents and numerous international trade deals later, Nabisco successfully shuttered the plant for good, laying off about 350 workers and leaving behind a hulking brick monument to the Pennsylvania city’s storied industrial past.

Today, the old factory building has been transformed into a shiny testament to Pittsburgh’s future: the luxuriously renovated Bakery Square is home to hundreds of Google employees, assembly lines and industrial ovens replaced with cubicles, meeting rooms and an indoor bamboo garden, the only hint of the manufacturing past in a few tasteful design flourishes.

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