UPMC hospital service workers rally over wages, unionization

Hundreds of protesters recently participated in a rally in support of Pittsburgh hospital service workers, according to a Pittsburgh City Paper report.

The gathering, which took place Aug. 4, involved UPMC hospital workers who hoped to raise minimum wage to $15-an-hour and to unionize.

"The steel mills are not here anymore," UPMC Montefiore housekeeper Lou Berry said during a speech at the rally, according to the report. "We are the steel mills now. We have to take the city back."

This is not the first such rally involving UPMC workers. Last year, hundreds of protesters demonstrated in front of UPMC headquarters, demanding the same things — a $15 minimum wage and a union, according to Pittsburgh City Paper. The report notes that UPMC hospital service workers have been trying to unionize since 2012, although their efforts have not made it past rallies.

According to the report, efforts began in 2012, when workers at UPMC Presbyterian and UPMC Shadyside started discussions with the Service Employees International Union.

In years since, the National Labor Relations Board has filed a number of complaints against UPMC alleging that UPMC violated workers' rights.

One of the most recent complaints came in January 2015, when the Pittsburgh office of the NLRB filed a complaint charging UPMC with 13 violations of workers' rights. In a statement used in a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette report at the time, UPMC said SEIU "has yet again resorted to manufactured unfair labor practices charges in an attempt to discredit UPMC during its unsuccessful attempt to organize hospital employees."

"For the SEIU, this is no longer about representing its members but rather about advancing its political goals by creating a media spectacle of protests and unfair labor practice charges that will resurface as long as UPMC hospital employees resist the SEIU organizing activity," UPMC added.

Becker's Hospital Review reached out to UPMC but had not heard back at the time this was published.


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