Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

'Undercover Boss' Gives Peduto New Perspective

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

'Undercover Boss' Gives Peduto New Perspective

Article excerpt

As Mayor Bill Peduto saw it, working with a chain saw wasn't the most dangerous part of filming "Undercover Boss." Nonetheless, he didn't hesitate to sign on for the CBS reality series.

"There will be those who would be against me doing this in the first place, without watching the show, but it would be very difficult for them to justify that [opinion], after watching," the mayor of Pittsburgh said.

"Undercover Boss" airs Sunday; because of football, it will start no earlier than 8:30 p.m. The show's premise is simple but often moving: take the head of a large company or organization, disguise him - or her - to be sent off to work with the company's average Joes.

In Mr. Peduto's case, he was assigned to haul trash in Wilkinsburg, trim trees in Frick Park and help as a carpenter installing doors with the city housing authority.

Often, the incognito CEO gets an earful about what workers really think about who's running of the company. But just as often there are moving stories of hard-working single parents or the middle- aged woman who had to put her education on hold who are more than just cogs in a wheel. At the end of each episode, a handful of employees learn the truth, with chastisement or rewards handed out.

Because the city isn't quite a Fortune 500 company, the rewards in this case were not sponsored by taxpayers, but a fund set up through corporate donations.

"The issues I was learning were not about about the job but the people themselves," Mr. Peduto said. "I would be able to help them in a way that would be life-changing. And I assure you, in at least two of the cases, we changed people's lives."

The mayor recommends viewers have Kleenex handy.

This isn't the first time "Undercover Boss" has approached a politician. In 2011, then-Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory appeared on the show. Mayor Peduto said it was his understanding that this time around, he was among four finalists from other cities.

There were ground rules, he added: "There would not be any use of city resources other than [my] being with the workers.

"And that I would still have to work every day. …

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