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.