Inside UPMC – Leslie Poston

I believe that a person who works full time and does a good job at a 10 billion dollar global health care system ought to have a path out of poverty and should not be impoverished by their medical costs.

“I believe that a person who works full time and does a good job at a 10 billion dollar global health care system ought to have a path out of poverty and should not be impoverished by their medical costs. ” Leslie Poston

My name is Leslie Poston, and I am a UPMC employee.   I’m coming together with my coworkers to call on UPMC to create good jobs for a strong and healthy Pittsburgh – will you join us on Monday March 3rd, as we call on UPMC to create good jobs?

I have worked at UPMC Presbyterian for ten years. I work hard every day to make sure that the heart and lung transplant unit runs smoothly, and that my patients receive the best quality care.

Recently I saw an ad that UPMC took out in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette saying UPMC gives to the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank so that people in Pittsburgh can eat. This is a great thing. Generosity towards people in need is really beautiful. But the ad also struck a nerve, because I AM one of the people who uses a food bank. So are many of my coworkers.

I try to work as much overtime as I can so I have more to make ends meet. That’s because if I work only full time, my take home pay is about $350 dollars a week. After rent, utilities, transportation, there’s just nothing left.

I’m also struggling to pay thousands of dollars in medical debt that I owe to UPMC. This past fall I was hospitalized for a couple of days and my UPMC insurance didn’t cover all the costs. As I keep telling the people who call me every day, I just don’t know how I’m going to pay it off. Even if I saved every possible penny and worked hundreds and hundreds of hours of overtime, I can’t get ahead. I’ll just be paying off my hospital stay.

I believe that a person who works full time and does a good job at a 10 billion dollar global health care system ought to have a path out of poverty and should not be impoverished by their medical costs. I believe that this should be a bigger priority for UPMC than corporate jets and fancy signs on top of the highest tower.

UPMC can and must do better for all of us. Please join me and my co-workers and join us on Monday as we call on UPMC to create good jobs for a strong and healthy Pittsburgh.

Good Jobs, Healthy Pittsburgh Day of Action
Monday, March 3
Rally All Day – beginning at 12 pm
US Steel Tower
600 Grant St.

Leslie Poston
Heart and Lung Transplant Unit Secretary, UPMC Presbyterian

UPMC Outsourced Transcriptionists Face ANOTHER Challenge

 Dear Maria,   Hi, Thanks so much for sharing this email about Cindy with your list of members and followers. Remind them to share posts on Facebook and retweet on Twitter too!   Thanks,  Make it Our UPMC   I am Cindy Cromie and I was a UPMC transcriptionist for more than 20 years until UPMC outsourced transcriptionists like me to a low-wage contractor in June.


“I was a UPMC transcriptionist for more than 20 years until UPMC outsourced transcriptionists like me to a low-wage contractor in June.” Cindy Cromie

I am Cindy Cromie and I was a UPMC transcriptionist for more than 20 years until UPMC outsourced transcriptionists like me to a low-wage contractor in June.

I couldn’t believe it. Without a moment’s notice, UPMC was letting us go. Our work was good, and the need was still there. In fact, they wanted us to continue working for UPMC – just through a contractor. The difference: our paychecks cut in half, at best; our healthcare benefits eliminated.

Like others in the transcription department, I took the job with Nuance, the contractor — we were given 10 days to decide to take it or leave it and told we couldn’t get unemployment insurance.

From one paycheck to the next, my income in a two-week pay period as an hourly transcriptionist went from $1,012 to $330 – a 67 percent decrease – with Nuance’s pay-by-line system. In fact, Nuance had to adjust my pay to bring it up to minimum wage.

Who can afford to live on that? At 57, I had to move in with my mother, back to my childhood home. I had to cancel my son’s health insurance. And I’m dipping into my retirement savings just to cover my bills.

I filed for and was granted unemployment benefits, but now, four months down the road, I am facing further indignity by Nuance. The company that UPMC outsourced me and other transcriptionists to is appealing my unemployment claim.

All of us former UPMC transcriptionists are hardworking people. We did good work helping to keep patients safe and we earned enough to support our families.

UPMC decided to push me and my co-workers out of the ranks of the middle class and into the ranks of the working poor. Thousands of other workers at UPMC are struggling to get by on UPMC’s poverty jobs.  We don’t think that’s charitable behavior.

Together, we need to tell UPMC that they cost us all. We need to remind the community what happens when a business chooses profits over people.

That’s why we’re all coming together to demand UPMC help build and strengthen our middle class instead of holding our families and economy back.

Join Us: Good Jobs, Healthy Pittsburgh Day of Action 

March 3 at the US Steel Tower, Downtown Pittsburgh

Inside UPMC – Mary Hughes

The work we do matters, and we deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. We need UPMC to work with us, and to create good jobs and help us make a stronger, healthier Pittsburgh.

The work we do matters, and we deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. We need UPMC to work with us, and to create good jobs and help us make a stronger, healthier Pittsburgh.

My Name is Mary Hughes, and I am a UPMC employee. My coworkers and I are calling on UPMC to create good jobs for a strong and healthy Pittsburgh. Will you join us and sign our online petition? 

I have worked as a medical transcriptionist in the imaging department for the past 8 years. People sometimes think that transcriptionists just copy out what the doctors say, and ask “where’s the skill in that?” But the truth is we have to know a LOT about medicine to get he notes right. Every day we catch the little human errors that doctors make, and it’s our job to call them up and ask if we should make a correction. That’s the role we play in keeping patients safe and healthy.

I am very proud of the work I do. But my work is not all of me. I am not an expendable person who can be worked until the end of their life without any life for themselves. Nobody is expendable and it is wrong when employers treat people as if they are.

My mother was widowed at 43 and didn’t have a fancy education, so she went to work as a housekeeper. She cleaned healthcare facilities for 20 years. She tried to teach me the advice her father gave her: “If all you’re doing is sweeping the floor, be the best floor sweeper they’ve got.”

It’s good advice, but it’s not enough. My mother is old now, worn out, frail and sick. Her time is almost gone. When I hear her coughing in her bed at night, trying to clear the fluid her weakened heart can no longer cope with, I wish her life had something in it other than hard work. I wish she had enjoyed some of the richness that the people she worked for enjoyed. I wish she had not been used up to the point that she could no longer give.

At UPMC, the people around me are getting used up. They work hard – too hard – since everybody puts in overtime to make their paychecks bigger. And even with all that, many rely on foodbanks and other forms of assistance to feed themselves and their families. It feels as if nobody is making enough to live, let alone to start to see work pay off.

And at UPMC, even workers who make a good living can’t count on it. This year hundreds of skilled UPMC transcriptionists were plunged into poverty when UPMC sold them to Nuance, a company that pays so little for a line of transcription that it had to supplement one of my former colleague’s paycheck to reach minimum. Many of these workers had served UPMC for 20 and 30 years. They are still transcribing for UPMC hospitals, but their lives have been devastated.

Here’s the worst thing: even as people work themselves sick, or fall into medical debt with their very employer, or fear sudden financial ruin, UPMC makes it very clear that to speak out or try to get make changes is not tolerated. UPMC’s workplaces are places of fear.

UPMC is using all of its wealth and power to silence workers who are trying to make their lives better.  To know for sure that their kids won’t go hungry at some time during the month. To be able to get the care they need in the hospital that they clean.

The work we do matters, and we deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. We need UPMC to work with us, and to create good jobs and help us make a stronger, healthier Pittsburgh.

Mary Hughes
UPMC Medical Transcriptionist

Good Jobs. Healthy Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh needs UPMC – the city’s largest employer, healthcare provider and landowner – to use its power and wealth to create a better future for our city. That’s why we’re all coming together to demand UPMC help build and strengthen our middle class instead of holding our families and economy back.

Join Us: Good Jobs, Healthy Pittsburgh Day of Action

MONDAY, MARCH 3
ALL DAY
USX Tower – 600 Grant St
Downtown Pittsburgh

Take Action:
Add your voice today – Sign our petition and call on UPMC to create good jobs for a healthy Pittsburgh!

Spread The Word:
Download our event flyer – Click Here

Get Involved:
Want to get involved with the action on March 3rd? Attend one of the trainings below to learn how.

General Orientation/Training for the Days of Change
Location: Smithfield Church
Time: 11AM March 1st.
What:  General Information on the days of change. What to expect. Where to go and what to bring and do While you’re there. Come one and all.

Production Day
Location: TBA
Time: February 27th 10AM
What: A day of action will require lots of signs, banners, and other items for the day. Handy with a marker? Like to draw posters? This is the perfect way to help us build up our event on March 3rd!

Chaney & Lucretia are fighting for their family — & better jobs at UPMC.

My name is Chaney Lewis. I have two young children and my partner Lucretia and I both work at UPMC.

Lucretia and I want to provide a good life for our kids. We want to show them that when you work hard and you do a good job, it pays off.

But no matter how many hours we put in, a job at UPMC just isn’t enough to show them that hard work pays. The bills keep piling up, and we have been forced to cut corners on our health just to stay afloat.

I have worked at Presbyterian hospital for the past nine years, and I recently completed a two-week specialized training to transport heart patients who are on heart monitors. It’s intense making sure patients and equipment are getting from place to place quickly and safely.

Even with my experience and extra training I still only make $11.97 an hour. For four out of the nine years I have been at UPMC, I worked through a wage freeze at $9.76 per hour, a starting wage only $1 more than what my mother made there 20 years ago when she was a UPMC housekeeper.

Our boys are the center of our world, but even covering childcare for them is a constant stress.  Right now, Lucretia’s 87-year-old great grandmother is helping take care of them while I’m at work. Then I piece together other side jobs that give us some flexibility.

When my car broke down unexpectedly, we had to ask Lucretia’s great grandmother to take the bus to watch the kids. I felt awful.

Working full time at UPMC, my take-home would just be enough to cover daycare for the kids. It’s like we’re in a hamster wheel – working just to have the kids taken care of, but without anything to show for it.

Even though I’m at the hospital every day, I avoid going to the doctor.  Health insurance is one thing that we’ve decided to risk going without.

This makes things tough at home. It means a lot of sacrifice.

We shouldn’t have to work multiple jobs to afford to feed our families, but that is the reality thousands of my coworkers live because of the poverty wages UPMC pays us.

I feel like the American dream is slipping away from where you only need one job, go on vacation, buy a car, spend time with family and not have to work overtime.

I believe that an employer that can pay its top executives millions and millions has the ability to start making our needs a priority. We need good jobs at UPMC.

That’s why we’re fighting the fight: UPMC can do better by Pittsburgh by working with us to create good jobs. Good jobs that we can raise our families on, jobs that allow us to move up into the middle class. Jobs that allow us to live the American dream.

We need UPMC to do better by all of us.  
Join Us!
For a City Council Hearing on UPMC
Wednesday, February 26th, 2:30 PM
5th Floor City County Building, Downtown Pittsburgh

BREAKING: Faith Leaders and UPMC Employee Arrested While Calling for Living Wages

UPMC Worker Christoria Hughes, Rev. Rodney Lyde, and Rev. Dr. Ronald Wanless were arrested at UPMC headquarters this afternoon while calling on UPMC to pay all of its employees a living wage.

UPMC Worker Christoria Hughes, Rev. Rodney Lyde, and Rev. Dr. Ronald Wanless were arrested at UPMC headquarters this afternoon while calling on UPMC to pay all of its employees a living wage.

This afternoon, UPMC executives showed their disregard for the plight of employees who keep the healthcare system running smoothly every day. I was part of a delegation of faith leaders and workers asking to meet with decision-makers, to secure UPMC’s commitment to lifting workers out of poverty.

We didn’t have that meeting. Instead, we were arrested.

It’s time for management to respond to the needs of its workers. Please join us tomorrow to amplify our call for living wages at 8 am at the US Steel Tower.

I was arrested with Christoria Hughes, a proud mother and grandmother who has worked at UPMC for six years. When Christoria moved to Pittsburgh, she hoped a job with the city’s largest employer would mean economic security for her family. But even with full time hours, she only brings home about $350 a week and relies on public subsidies and food banks to make ends meet.

I accompanied Christoria into the UPMC headquarters today because her concerns and those of her coworkers have gone unanswered. UPMC workers’ efforts to come together to make change have been met with harassment and retaliation now being prosecuted by the federal Labor Board.

We are calling on UPMC to do three simple things to lift up all workers and improve our city:

  • Pay every health care worker no less than $15.00 an hour. Workers who work full-time need family-sustaining jobs that don’t require public assistance, and our community needs a strong and healthy middle class.
  • Erase the medical debt of UPMC employees. People who work for the region’s largest health care provider should not struggle with medical bills.
  • Allow workers to form their union without interference. Respect all UPMC employees’ right to organize for a voice at work by ensuring a fair process to form a union free of management harassment, intimidation and attempts to influence workers’ choice.

I believe that UPMC should meet employees who wish to rise with open arms and in a spirit of collaboration. I’m proud to stand with Christoria and with all of the UPMC workers who are standing strong in this fight for better wages for their families and for a healthier, stronger city for all of us.

It is time to shift UPMC’s priorities from corporate jests and executive compensation to the needs of working families.

Join us on Friday at 8 am at the US Steel Tower to tell executives that Pittsburgh is ready for change.  

Right now, sign this petition to show your support – and send it to your friends.

Thank you for your support,

Rev. Dr. Ronald Wanless

Good Jobs, Healthy Pittsburgh – Christoria Hughes

Christoria Hughes Dietary, UPMC Presbyterian

Christoria Hughes
Dietary, UPMC Presbyterian

My name is Christoria Hughes, and I am a proud mother and grandmother. I am also a longtime UPMC employee writing to ask you to join me and my coworkers in calling for better jobs for a strong and a healthy Pittsburgh.

My dream has always been for my grandkids to be able to go to college and get ahead in life. I was so proud when my oldest granddaughter was accepted into college here in Pittsburgh.

I was willing to do anything so she could succeed. So when she started to struggle financially and was thinking about dropping out, I packed up my younger grandkids and moved from North Carolina to Pittsburgh to help. We hadn’t even seen the place!

Pittsburgh is supposed to be one of the most livable cities in the country. Livable to me means not having to worry every day about how to avoid economic disaster. Livable to me means being in a situation where the hard work that you do goes to building something that you want and care about. For me, I want to build a better life for my family. That is what my hard work is for.

When I got here I applied right away at UPMC. They were the largest employer, and it’s easy to see that they are kind of the economic king around here. So I thought that is the company to get in with. I was hopeful that I would have job security and be able to keep a nice home for our family.

But after six years at UPMC, and working full-time, I’m still only bringing home about $350/week.

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that’s not enough for me to raise these kids. We have to pull together and sacrifice on everything, from sharing clothes, to using subsidizing housing and food banks. We also rely on real charities like Big Brother and Big Sister for help. The same is true for many of my coworkers.

All the UPMC workers try to get as much overtime as possible, and the extra hours do mean more income. But the extra hours also produce a lot of strain, and it’s not healthy for families. Kids looking after themselves too young, no one taking an interest and helping out with homework, that’s when kids get into trouble. We need to get to a place where people who work full time doing a job that needs doing can pay the bills and take care of their family responsibilities.

I’ve devoted my life to my grandkids. I’ve worked hard at it. And I don’t mind it. But I’m not doing well enough. And my grandkids aren’t doing well enough. And that’s just not because we’re not trying hard enough. I want our kids and grandkids to do better. I want the people I work with to do better. I want Pittsburgh to do better. To make that happen, UPMC is going to have to do better by all of us.

Will you join me and my co-workers and sign onto the petition to call on UPMC to create good jobs for a strong and healthy Pittsburgh?

Christoria Hughes
Dietary, UPMC Presbyterian