UPMC workers strike; nonunion hospital workers launch political action committee

Dozens of UPMC hospital workers in Pittsburgh went on strike Oct. 4 in support of their right to form a union, according to a Tribune-Review report.

Service Employees International Union Healthcare Pennsylvania, which helped organize the strike, said workers and their supporters urged UPMC to stop "documented intimidation, harassment [and] discharges of workers supporting a union, and other rights violations."

The workers also urged  UPMC to take corrective actions related to past National Labor Relations Board rulings against the healthcare giant.

UPMC did not comment directly on the union's remarks. However, a spokesperson told Becker's Oct. 5: "Of the more than 40,000 employees who work at facilities in Pittsburgh, about 50 participated in yesterday's staged protest. Care of our patients was uninterrupted."

The union said dozens of UPMC workers, including patient care technicians, nurse aides, patient transporters, dietary workers, housekeepers, floor technicians, research assistants and specialists, medical assistants, and administrative assistants, did not report to work Oct. 4 and marched for workers' rights.

Multiple NLRB decisions prompted the strike, including a ruling Aug. 6 that UPMC unlawfully prohibited off-duty workers from unionization efforts at its Presbyterian, Shadyside, Children's and Mercy locations. According to the Tribune-Review, the labor board also that month ordered UPMC to rehire three UPMC Presbyterian and Shadyside workers who were illegally terminated, give them back pay, end anti-union practices, and notify workers of their rights to unionize.

SEIU said UPMC "has yet to implement any remedies."

On the day of the strike, nonunion UPMC hospital workers announced the launch of the People Over Profits political action committee. The union said the PAC is "aimed at building power for working people in Pittsburgh and shaping a future that puts community before corporations."

The committee gets its name from a song written for UPMC workers by Jasiri X.

 

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