We stood up to UPMC. And we won.

Last week I stood together with my co-workers Ron, Al, and Leslie to tell UPMC that they could not buy our silence and that we are rejecting its settlement offer. We knew that UPMC’s treatment of us was illegal and now a federal administrative judge agrees with us.

The judge even says that our hospital, UPMC Presbyterian-Shadyside, has engaged in such widespread misconduct that it demonstrates a general disregard for our rights as workers and he is ordering that we be reinstated with back pay.

Stand Up To UPMC With Us – Share Our Victory On Facebook:

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This is an important victory for me and for all my coworkers at UPMC hospitals across the city. Now we need UPMC to make a real commitment to stop violating workers’ rights and to let us form our union without illegal harassment or intimidation. We are calling on UPMC to stop with all of the illegal maneuvers and intimidation of workers like me who just want a better future for our families and Pittsburgh.

We showed that standing up to UPMC is making a difference. Rather than cave to UPMC’s money offer to make us go away, we knew what was right not just for us, but for the city.

Can you join us this afternoon to celebrate our victory and to tell UPMC that it needs to put an end to its illegal violations of our rights?

Victory Rally and Press Conference
Pittsburgh City County Building – 5th Floor
12:00 PM
RSVP on Facebook – Click Here

Together we can make it our UPMC.

Jim Staus

When we stand together, we win.

We’re so grateful for the support of people in Pittsburgh who reached out to help us and we’re proud to be part of the big movement to make UPMC act like a real charity.

We’re so grateful for the support of people in Pittsburgh who reached out to help us and we’re proud to be part of the big movement to make UPMC act like a real charity.

We stood up to UPMC and we won.

I’d like to share some good news about the medical transcriptionists UPMC abruptly laid off last year. I’m one of them.

The state Unemployment Compensation Board of Review found that a group of us who filed for unemployment are in fact eligible.

As you may remember, last year UPMC outsourced our good transcriptionist jobs to a private contractor, Nuance Communications, which pays poverty-rate wages- just pennies per line – even though we were working for the same hospitals and doctors and doing the same skilled work!

I went from making $17.81 an hour to minimum wage. Our new pay was so low, many of us had to sell our belongings and move in with relatives to keep our families off the streets. I had to dip into retirement savings to pay the bills.

UPMC wanted to be sure that we would take this massive pay cut but not lose our experience and skill. So when they laid us off, they told us we wouldn’t be eligible for unemployment benefits. No income while we tried to regroup and find jobs to support our families. No choice but to do the same work for half the pay.

But we fought back.

After months of hearings and hassles, the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review recently sided with us and said we have every right to these benefits. That means thousands of dollars for people who UPMC said it owed nothing.

We’re so grateful for the support of people in Pittsburgh who reached out to help us and we’re proud to be part of the big movement to make UPMC act like a real charity.

Together, we can Make It Our UPMC.

Gina Frederick

From Cranberry to Pittsburgh to Altoona, We Stand Together

Donna Hoge, a Nursing Assistant at UPMC Sherwood Oaks, attempts to deliver a letter to UPMC CEO Jeffrey Romoff

Donna Hoge, a Nursing Assistant at UPMC Sherwood Oaks, attempts to deliver a letter to UPMC CEO Jeffrey Romoff

My name is Donna Hoge, and I work at UPMC’s senior living facility in Cranberry, Pa., called Sherwood Oaks. I’m a nursing assistant there, so I spend a lot of time with residents and I work hard to make sure they stay healthy, active and comfortable. As you can imagine, my job is both very demanding and very rewarding.

My residents feel like part of my family. My coworkers and I aren’t just responsible for their physical health – we’re there with them every day, often more than their families. That’s why the way UPMC runs Sherwood Oaks is so troubling.

Even though I have worked at Sherwood Oaks for ten years, I still struggle to make ends meet. UPMC’s low pay forces high turnover at Sherwood Oaks. This causes confusion for some of our most vulnerable residents and unnecessary disruption in their lives and our ability to provide quality care.

When my coworkers and I heard that UPMC workers in Pittsburgh are standing up for better treatment, it hit close to home. So, earlier this week, we took a bus down to UPMC corporate headquarters to let its executives know that regardless of where its workers live – Cranberry, Altoona, Erie or Pittsburgh – we stand together for good jobs.

Supporters watch as workers from UPMC Sherwood Oaks deliver a letter to UPMC CEO Jeffrey Romoff

Supporters watch as workers from UPMC Sherwood Oaks deliver a letter to UPMC CEO Jeffrey Romoff

On Monday, we tried to deliver the letter below to UPMC CEO Jeffrey Romoff. But when we approached the building, security locked all of the doors and denied us entrance.

I’m going back to Cranberry determined to fight for good jobs at every UPMC facility. Enough is enough – it is time for UPMC to be a true partner to western Pennsylvania and the tens of thousands of workers our community depends on.

Donna Hoge
Nursing Assistant – UPMC Sherwood Oaks

September 22, 2014
UPMC CEO Jeffrey Romoff
600 Grant Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Dear Mr. Romoff,

We are the frontline caregivers at UPMC’s Sherwood Oaks in Cranberry, Pennsylvania. Every day we provide the best quality care for our residents and are proud of the work we do. UPMC Sherwood Oaks is a key community asset that plays a vital role in our local economy. All of us share a common stake in the growth and success of it. But with that success comes a serious set of responsibilities to the residents, front line care givers, and the community.

Over the past three years we have watched as UPMC has increased fees to the residents and brought in over one million dollars in profits. Instead of using that money to invest in the strength and health of our community, UPMC has used it to lease private jets and make millionaires out of executives while those of us who care for our most cherished and vulnerable are struggling to pay for gas in our cars.

The poverty wages UPMC Sherwood Oaks pays us are not just bad for our community; they are bad for our residents. Folks come to Sherwood Oaks for our high quality care – we have a good reputation. To keep that, we need a strong set of workers who will stay here long-term.

Unfortunately, UPMC’s poverty wages mean high turnover. Many residents are worried and scared about the “strangers” in their homes.

Is this how a charity acts?

Just like UPMC workers in Pittsburgh, Altoona, Erie and across western Pennsylvania, we need UPMC to work with us to build strong and healthy communities by paying us family-sustaining wages so we can raise our children and get ahead in the new economy.

Signed,
The Members of UPMC Sherwood Oaks

What kind of Pittsburgh do you want?

On Thursday, fast food workers were arrested in a nonviolent civil disobedience protest outside a Wilkinsburg McDonalds, joining other fast food workers around the nation who walked off the job in a massive demonstration demanding $15 an hour and a union.

On Thursday, fast food workers were arrested in a nonviolent civil disobedience protest outside a Wilkinsburg McDonalds, joining other fast food workers around the nation who walked off the job in a massive demonstration demanding $15 an hour and a union.

What kind of Pittsburgh do you want?

Last week, thousands of people answered that question, calling for better jobs and better communities.

On Thursday, fast food workers were arrested in a nonviolent civil disobedience protest outside a Wilkinsburg McDonalds, joining other fast food workers around the nation who walked off the job in a massive demonstration demanding $15 an hour and a union.

“What workers are doing is extremely courageous,” said Bellevue McDonald’s worker Chris Kumanchick, who attended the Wilkinsburg protest. “For them to do that for us and the other unions trying to form, it shows their intent in the strongest way possible. We are doing this not just for ourselves but for everybody else.”

Just days earlier, UPMC and fast food workers stood with casino workers, security officers, adjunct instructors and retail workers in Pittsburgh’s annual Labor Day parade, where they marched alongside union leaders, community members and elected officials to say working families want a city with good union jobs to help lift themselves out of poverty.

“We are in a moment where workers from many different sectors are standing up together,” SEIU Healthcare PA president Neal Bisno told the 

0901 Labor Day PGH workers rising standards

Tribune-Review.

UPMC pays thousands of front-line healthcare workers 8% to 30% less what it takes to live in Pittsburgh, making it impossible for them to get by. For the cost of UPMC’s $51 million corporate jet alone, the institution could raise all of its Pittsburgh service workers to a median wage of $15 an hour. The fast food strike follows city-wide protests on July 30, when more than 30 members of the clergy, community leaders, students, and UPMC workers were arrested calling on UPMC to stop standing in the way of healthcare employees who want a union.

“This isn’t just about my coworkers and me, and it isn’t just about UPMC,” said Jarrell Reeves, UPMC floor technician at Shadyside hospital. “It’s about creating a different Pittsburgh for our families. This is about the people who built this town and keep it running, and we’re all rising up to ask our employers to work with us to strengthen the middle class.”

UPMC Worker, Leslie Poston, joined in support of Fast Food workers across Pittsburgh as part of a national day of action.

UPMC Worker, Leslie Poston, joined in support of Fast Food workers across Pittsburgh as part of a national day of action.

Keystone Research Center economist Stephen Herzenberg wrote recently in the Post-Gazette that lifting UPMC wages would have an effect on the broader service sector of retail, caregiving, and restaurants as those jobs cannot move offshore.

 The people who prepare and serve our food, clean our hospitals and teach our kids should not have to work overtime just to scrape by. With the support of the community, Pittsburgh workers from every sector are standing up to their employers and saying we need an economy that works for everyone.

Together, we can raise up Pittsburgh!

Moving Pittsburgh Forward

The truth is our effort to improve jobs at UPMC isn’t just about UPMC. For me, it’s about putting my grandchildren to sleep at night and knowing I am doing everything I can for them to wake up in a better Pittsburgh. It’s about setting a new standard for jobs in this city so my neighbor who is a fast food worker can afford to give his kids a hot meal.

The truth is our effort to improve jobs at UPMC isn’t just about UPMC. For me, it’s about putting my grandchildren to sleep at night and knowing I am doing everything I can for them to wake up in a better Pittsburgh.

Last year on Labor Day, thousands of union members from across our city joined my coworkers and me to let UPMC know that labor supports us as we form our union.

I was honored to know that the Teamsters, Steelworkers, teachers and all our union brothers and sisters have our backs in our movement to make sure the new economy works for everyone.

We’re making progress in this David and Goliath fight that many thought was impossible: a year ago, after we started talking about the problems we face on the job, UPMC increased wages by $1.

Other service workers in Pittsburgh tell me our work to improve jobs at the region’s largest employer has encouraged and inspired them to fight for good jobs. The truth is our effort to improve jobs at UPMC isn’t just about UPMC. For me, it’s about putting my grandchildren to sleep at night and knowing I am doing everything I can for them to wake up in a better Pittsburgh. It’s about setting a new standard for jobs in this city so my neighbor who is a fast food worker can afford to give his kids a hot meal.

This Labor Day, casino workers, fast food workers, adjunct instructors, security officers and other service workers from all over Pittsburgh will march with us as we tell our employers: Pittsburgh Workers are Rising.

Our calls for good jobs with a union got the attention of gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf who will join us at the parade to hear how about our movement for change in Pittsburgh.
Will you join all of us Labor Day and stand up for good jobs with a union?

March with the workers who are fighting to Make It Our UPMC:
Consol Center Center Ave – E. Parking Lot
10:00 AM
Coffee & Donuts Provided

Join us for a Labor Day reception with special guest Tom Wolf:
US Steel Workers Building
60 Boulevard of the Allies
12:45 PM
Refreshments Provided

Together we can raise up Pittsburgh.

Teri Collins
Unit Secretary, UPMC Montefiore

Pittsburgh Workers Rising!

Gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf met with workers who are fighting to rebuild the middle class.

Gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf met with workers who are fighting to rebuild the middle class.

Across our city, tens of thousands of workers are standing up for good jobs and a union.  In our hospitals, casinos, fast food joints, and universities, from health aids to adjuncts to security workers to janitors, we know that the only path to real prosperity in the “eds and meds” economy is with a voice on the job.

What better way to meet one another and celebrate our determination than a good old-fashioned cook out?  Our union movement is bringing us together as one family, building a brighter future for ourselves and our kids.

Guess who joined us? Gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf! He wanted to meet workers who are organizing and let us know that he’s down with our fight to rebuild the middle class. Here’s what he had to say:

“Your fight for your union is about fairness. And it is unfair that many of you can’t even afford to receive the same care you give every day. Cutting people off from the middle class only does one thing – it cuts off our economic vitality. We need good family sustaining jobs if we want a fresh start in Pennsylvania.” 

Fairness. Strong working families. And top notch care. For me, that’s what a health care union is all about. As a medical assistant at Children’s Hospital, I love helping kids feel at ease at a time of stress and worry. As a mom, I’m also all about making a good life for my son.

UPMC Worker Latahsa Tabb meets with gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf.

UPMC Worker Latahsa Tabb meets with gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf.

We’re calling for a family sustaining wage and a union at UPMC because that’s fair. It’s how we build strong families, And it’s how front line caregivers like me help ensure that our hospitals put patients over profits. That’s the formula for making sure that this new economy builds healthy communities.

I’m excited to be part of Pittsburgh’s rising workers. And proud to be supporting Tom Wolf for Governor.

Together, we can make it our UPMC.

Latasha Tabb
Medical Assistant – UPMC Children’s Hospital

Good Jobs with a Union at UPMC: Meet Fired Shuttle Driver Al Turner

My name is Al Turner, and I am fighting for $15 and a union at UPMC.

My name is Al Turner, and I am fighting for $15 and a union at UPMC.

My name is Al Turner. I drove a shuttle bus at UPMC for two and a half years, making sure that everyone in the hospital got to work safely and on time. I loved my job, but UPMC fired me for coming together with my coworkers to form a union so we could improve jobs in our city.

I’ve lived in Pittsburgh my whole life, and over the past decade I’ve seen a lot of changes.  A lot of them are good. But our new eds and meds economy hasn’t created the good jobs that working people need to support their families.

 That’s why I started fighting for $15 an hour and a union at UPMC.

I thought a job at UPMC would mean more opportunity. So when I had the chance to go to work there, I jumped at it.

But you know what? The idea that all the jobs at UPMC are good jobs is just a myth.

While UPMC brought in $1.3 billion in profits in the last three years, it pays thousands of its service workers—the biggest group in its hospitals—8% to 30% below what it takes to live in Pittsburgh.

UPMC should be using its enormous power and wealth to lift everyone out of poverty. But instead of working with us to create good jobs, UPMC works against us. They fired me because I came together with my co-workers to make improvements for our city. And recently UPMC even took away good union jobs from a group of janitors who clean its Shadyside office complex. They are losing their jobs because they stood with my coworkers and me.

It’s time for UPMC to work with us to rebuild Pittsburgh’s middle class. Can you join my co-workers and me on July 30th to stand up for good jobs with a union at UPMC?

What: Good Jobs with A Union at UPMC

When: Wednesday, July 30th at 4:30 PM

Where: Mellon Square Park – 6th Ave and William Penn Place – Downtown Pittsburgh

RSVP On Facebook Here

Together we can make it Our UPMC

Dear Governor Corbett and Attorney General Kane:

Dear Governor Corbett and Attorney General Kane:

Casey Swartz, Highmark subscriber cut off from my UPMC doctors during follow up care for thyroid cancer.

Casey Swartz, Highmark subscriber cut off from my UPMC doctors during follow up care for thyroid cancer.

I’m writing to ask you to stand up for Pittsburghers who are losing access to affordable healthcare as UPMC denies more and more patients care at our community hospitals.  I don’t know much about the “deal” mentioned in today’s news, but I do know that patients like me see no bargain in losing in-network care to our doctors as a result of UPMC bargaining with our health.

My name is Casey Swartz and in 2009, my midwife found a cancerous nodule on my thyroid. In the years that followed, my UPMC endocrinologist carefully managed my follow-up and saw me through intensive treatment during my first pregnancy. Then out of the blue, last October, my endocrinologist told me I’d have to find a new doctor. His office no longer accepted my Highmark insurance.

I am just one of the hundreds of thousands of citizens in our region who has Highmark insurance. And we are perplexed and disturbed by the decisions UPMC management and our elected officials are making about the hospitals we subsidize with our taxes, our charitable gifts and our healthcare premiums.

Every day patients like me are telling you what the disruption of care is costing us. Medical ethicists both here and across the country have criticized UPMC for forcing every UPMC doctor to violate their oath to put patients first. Local doctors who are not afraid of reprisal have said the same, and even those who are fearful of retaliation tell us in private that what UPMC is doing is wrong.

We are well aware that UPMC executives want us to avoid this problem by choosing an insurer who will have in network access, but that is, if I may be blunt, just bullying. We need in-network access to our hospitals and doctors on fair terms, not Jeffrey Romoff’s terms.

Why should we bring for-profit insurers into our market, insurers who need to pass on their shareholders’ dividends to us?

There is only ONE plan that puts patients first: affordable in-network access to all area hospitals for every resident, regardless of the color of our insurance card.

I am not alone in saying that I am alarmed to see that a “deal” might include further pushing more patients away from care at some of our largest community hospitals.

The people of this region built these hospitals with our taxes, our charitable gifts, our healthcare premiums. Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, tax breaks, the caring, the suffering and even the healing belong to us and we are being deeply wronged.

It’s clear that UPMC has lost sight of its mission to provide healthcare, and we need both of you to protect patients so that we do not fall victim to callous business negotiations that put our health at risk.

It’s time to put patients before profits and politics.

You have the power and responsibility to put patients first – and you must. Please protect in-network care for Pittsburgh.

Thank you very much,

Casey Swartz
Swissvale

Dear UPMC Board of Directors

"My husband and I have serious, chronic conditions that will require lifetime treatment with specialists. We are insured through my employer with an out-of-state Blue Cross Blue Shield plan that is administered locally by Highmark. We are already struggling to make ends meet. If we lose in-network access to our UPMC doctors, it will have a terrible domino effect on my family. I don't see how the UPMC Board can sleep at night."

“My husband and I have serious, chronic conditions that will require lifetime treatment with specialists. We are insured through my employer with an out-of-state Blue Cross Blue Shield plan that is administered locally by Highmark. We are already struggling to make ends meet. If we lose in-network access to our UPMC doctors, it will have a terrible domino effect on my family. I don’t see how the UPMC Board can sleep at night.”

On Monday June 23rd patients and caregivers went to the UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside Board of Directors meeting to demand in-network affordable access to all of UPMC’s doctors and hosptials regardless of the color of their insurance card.

The following letter was submitted to the UPMC Board of directors:

To The Board of Directors Presbyterian-Shadyside Hospital

Dear Members of the Presbyterian-Shadyside Hospital and UPMC Corporate Boards,

My name is Angela Vennare-Klein and my husband is Dennis Klein. We both have UPMC doctors and our hospital is UPMC Mercy.

Governor Tom Corbett and Attorney General Kathleen Kane have been meeting with you and Highmark executives to decide the future of patients in our region. You are talking about the future of hundreds of thousands of people.  It’s important that you hear not just from your bean-counters, but from the patients and caregivers of our region.

My husband and I are perhaps unusual in that we both have complex medical conditions. I have an incurable form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, that will require a lifetime of treatment and management.  Dennis is disabled and has acromegaly, a rare growth hormone disorder that will require regular maintenance of bloodwork every three to six months, a yearly scan and expensive monthly shots.

One way in which we are just like 1.6 million other people, however, is that we carry Highmark insurance. And like those people, we are perplexed and disturbed and even angry with the decisions that UPMC management is making, threatening to cut us off from in-network access to our our hospitals and doctors.

 Patient concerns about this upcoming crisis in care are falling on deaf ears.  

My husband and I deeply appreciate the care we receive from our UPMC specialists, but if we are forced out of network we will face financial ruin and lose critical continuity in our care.  We are not alone.  Thousands, if not millions, will face this with us.

Plain and simple, UPMC is being a bully.  The bottom line is we need in-network access to all the hospitals that we helped build with our taxes, our charitable gifts, and our healthcare premiums.  Anything less than that is immoral and unacceptable.

You have the power and the responsibility to do something and you must.  We are counting on you .

Thank you very much,

Angela Vennare-Klein
Beechview

Let’s really put patients first

Casey Swartz, Highmark subscriber cut off from my UPMC doctors during follow up care for thyroid cancer.

Casey Swartz, Highmark subscriber cut off from her UPMC doctors during follow up care for thyroid cancer.

In 2009, my midwife found a cancerous nodule on my thyroid. In the years that followed, my UPMC endocrinologist carefully managed my follow-up and saw me through intensive treatment during my first pregnancy. Then out of the blue, last October, my endocrinologist told me I’d have to find a new doctor. His office no longer accepted my Highmark insurance.

People in Pittsburgh are rightfully outraged by UPMC’s decision to deny hundreds of thousands of people in-network access to our doctors and hospitals. We are demanding that something be done. Right now Governor Tom Corbett and Attorney General Kathleen Kane are meeting with UPMC and Highmark to decide the future for thousands of patients like me. But Governor Corbett has already announced that a new contract between my doctor and my insurer is “off the table.” He just  wants folks like me to have “clarity” about how we’ll be hurt. He calls this putting patients first!

This is unacceptable for me, my family and for every patient in our region.

There is only ONE plan that puts patients first. Affordable in-network access to all area hospitals for every resident, regardless the color of our insurance card. Our tax-dollars, charitable donations, and healthcare dollars helped build UPMC – and we should have access to it.

Can you join me on Wednesday, July 25th at 11:30 am as we march from Governor Corbett’s office to AG Kathleen Kane’s? We are going to demand that patients really come first in any agreement between UPMC and Highmark.

Join Us:

Wednesday, June 25th – 11:30 AM
Governor Corbett’s Office
Piatt Place, 301 5th Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Let’s remind our elected leaders what their job is: to protect patients and our charitable assets, not bargain over the effects of an outrageous and unjust plan. It’s time to put patients before profits and patients before politics.

Together we can make it OUR UPMC

Casey Swartz
Patient