Labor board says UPMC intruded on employee council: 6 things to know

The National Labor Relations Board found that Pittsburgh-based UPMC violated the law regarding the formation and operation of an employee council, Bloomberg BNA reported.

Six things to know:

1. The 2-1 panel decision, issued Aug. 27, relates to the council established by employees in environmental services at UPMC's Presbyterian hospital in Pittsburgh.

2. The NLRB found the council was a labor organization under the law, contrary to arguments from the hospital. The law defines labor organization as "any organization of any kind . . . in which employees participate and which exists for the purpose, in whole or in part, of dealing with employers concerning grievances, labor disputes, wages, rates of pay, hours of employment or conditions of work." Hospital representatives had argued that they only discussed quality and efficiency issues with the council, which were not considered "conditions of work." However, the NLRB disagreed, saying evidence did not show discussions were limited to quality and efficiency.

3. The NLRB also found the hospital "dominated or interfered with the formation or administration of the council." According to the board, the council was established by UPMC's vice president for operations, John Krolicki, and it was decided the council would consist of department manager Dan Gasparovic and employee volunteers. The first meeting took place in Mr. Gasparovic's conference room, and employees received prepared bylaws. Mr. Gasparovic at a subsequent council meeting revealed the group's chair and co-chairs, without taking a vote or letting council members weigh in, according to the NLRB. And at meetings after that, the labor board said UPMC set aside time for reporting on the employee of the month award and other council activities.

4. Additionally, the NLRB found that UPMC "contributed 'financial or other support' to the … council, including extensive financial and logistical support of the council's efforts to put on a Memorial Day picnic and to develop and maintain the employee of the month award."

5. The council has been inactive for years, but the NLRB ordered UPMC hospitals to ensure the council is "completely disestablished," according to Bloomberg BNA.

6. UPMC spokesperson Paul Wood told Becker's the August NLRB decision "deals with disputes from five to six years ago and relates in large part to policies and practices that UPMC has long since changed."  He said the organization is evaluating its appellate options on charges upheld by the NLRB.


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