The countdown has begun for the primary election May 21 and the big issue on voters’ minds is holding UPMC accountable.
A poll conducted by Victoria Research for Make It Our UPMC among likely primary voters revealed that having UPMC do its fair share was the top concern among likely primary voters. Eighty-seven percent of respondents feel UPMC should pay property taxes. The poll also revealed that an overwhelming majority of people — 73 percent of those polled – think that UPMC workers would be better off with a union.
During the recent WQED mayoral candidate forum, the candidates were asked about what they would do to hold UPMC accountable.
Here are their responses:
Jack Wagner: “If UPMC is not meeting the mandate of a nonprofit, it should be challenged.” Mr. Wagner also stated that he believes UPMC should provide all of its employees with a living wage. “There is a separation in this country between the wealthy and the poor that is unacceptable,” he said. “I am not ordering anyone to do anything [but I’m] an advocate of paying your people fairly. I’m an advocate of a living wage and I’m an advocate of increasing minimum wage.”
Bill. Peduto stated that UPMC should be held accountable to three main groups: to its patients by allowing affordable healthcare access to UPMC services no matter what insurance plan they have; to the community by paying its fair share in taxes; and to workers by allowing them to form a union so they can support their families. “I support a living wage and I support any nonprofit that is a charity should not be stopping anyone from trying to form a union, which is the right of anyone in this country.”
Jake Wheatley said he also supports a living wage, but expressed reservations about the city’s tax challenge to UPMC’s charity status. “We would allow for the legal process to continue, but we think that’s going to be years in the making. . …We think we have some more pressing issues that we can negotiate and deal with, with UPMC and other large nonprofits, to help us as a city move forward that we shouldn’t do necessarily under the cloud of taking everyone to court.”
The strength and health of Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods depends on our largest employer, landowner and healthcare provider working with people in our city and being accountable to our needs. Let’s be sure to elect a mayor who intends to Make It Our UPMC!