Unions file antitrust complaint against UPMC

A group of labor unions, led by SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, launched what they are calling a "groundbreaking antitrust complaint" against UPMC, a 40-hospital system headquartered in Pittsburgh.

The complaint, filed May 18 by the SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania and the Strategic Organizing Center, alleges labor abuses and anti-competitive practices by UPMC over a number of years.

By allegedly maintaining a monopoly over healthcare workers through restricting their access to work outside of the system and by driving down wages, "UPMC is cutting off both these avenues," Matt Yarnell, president of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, said during a media conference.

UPMC employee Jodi Fatlin, RN, said there is barely a shift where she and fellow workers are not wondering if they have enough staff to cover patient needs.

"Our staffing crisis is a preexisting condition and UPMC refuses to cover it," Ms. Fatlin said. "We are recognized as essential workers but we are treated as disposable."

UPMC said it staffs with flexibility to ensure patients are best cared for depending on acuity demands, not staffing ratios, and is moving its non-union workforce minimum wage to $18 per hour, effective 2025. Its average yearly salary is more than $78,000, the system said.

"There are no other employers of size and scope in the regions UPMC serves that provide good paying jobs at every level and an average wage of this magnitude," UPMC Chief Communications Officer Paul Wood said in a statement shared with Becker's. "There is no policy that prohibits someone who leaves employment at a UPMC facility from being hired by another UPMC facility."

UPMC also said it invested more than $300 million in support of its workforce in 2022 to focus on "retention, recruitment and building a workforce pipeline."

"There are real challenges here around the monopoly … and the labor abuses of power," Mr. Yarnell said.

U.S. Rep. Summer Lee, who together with Pennsylvania state Rep. Sara Innamorato has previously highlighted alleged monopolistic tendencies at UPMC, said the health system should focus on improving the pay of its healthcare staff rather than throwing bones such as a food pantry for stressed workers.

"UPMC is abusing its power to exploit its workers and patients on the backs of taxpayers," Ms. Lee said. "It's past time for UPMC to be held accountable."

The full antitrust complaint can be found here.

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars