City Leaders Vow to Stand with UPMC Workers

City Council stands with UPMC workers in their fight to win $15.00 and the right to form their union without interference or retaliation and that Council will seek ways to move our City forward and build a better and more equal future for all workers.

City Council stands with UPMC workers in their fight to win $15.00 and the right to form their union without interference or retaliation.

A year ago, I stood with my coworkers and hundreds of our supporters from all across the city to demand better of UPMC. We were so proud of Pittsburgh’s determination to raise our voices about a charity that doesn’t really act like one. And we’re so encouraged to see that now, a year later, we’ve been joined by adjuncts, casino workers, Wal-Mart workers, fast food workers – all of whom are saying it’s time to address income inequality in our city. It’s time for workers to have a voice, a union and $15.

Yesterday morning, the Pittsburgh City Council unanimously passed a resolution affirming its commitment to stand with me and my coworkers in our fight to win $15 and the right to form a union without fear of retaliation.

Take Action: Sign Onto The Resolution – Click Here

City Council Member Natalia Rudiak said: ”One year ago, employees, taxpayers and patients stood side by side to demand ethical, fair, and just behavior from UPMC. But our region’s largest employer continues to act above the law. Today, city leaders are putting the non-profit on notice. Over the past year our commitment has grown stronger and stronger, and we are committed to standing with UPMC workers in the fight for $15, a union and a more equal future for all workers.”

Despite the unity of workers across our city, UPMC continues to hold Pittsburgh back. Just this November, the federal labor board ruled that UPMC continues to engage in “widespread and egregious misconduct”. Right now, there’s an OSHA investigation underway concerning a cleaning product that makes workers very sick, though, as one manager put it, it’s easier on the furniture. And UPMC’s official position on jobs at the largest employer is that family-supporting jobs are a good idea, but that’s not realistic.

We work for our region’s largest employer – one with $4 billion in reserves – and want to better ourselves and our families. Pittsburgh believes that if our largest employer isn’t setting a good example, they’re setting a bad one, and that will affect all of us in the city.

Join UPMC workers and the City Council by signing onto the resolution and tell UPMC Pittsburghers need $15 and a union. Click here to sign

Together we can make it our UPMC.

Veronica Shields
Pharmacy Tech – UPMC Mercy

More UPMC Facilities Under Federal Scrutiny

“We know that we have basic rights at work, and we’re  working hard to make sure that UPMC respects those  rights. We’re disappointed that UPMC supervisors keep  breaking the law to try to stop us from forming our union.  UPMC needs to commit to respecting our rights and  letting us form our union without illegal harassment.”  - C.J. Patterson, Patient Care Technician  UPMC Presbyterian

“We know that we have basic rights at work, and we’re
working hard to make sure that UPMC respects those
rights. We’re disappointed that UPMC supervisors keep
breaking the law to try to stop us from forming our union.
UPMC needs to commit to respecting our rights and
letting us form our union without illegal harassment.”
– C.J. Patterson, Patient Care Technician
UPMC Presbyterian

New Investigation Follows Recent Ruling that Found “Egregious and Widespread” Violations

For the third time in two years, the National Labor Relations Board issued a complaint against UPMC, charging them with 13 new violations of our rights at work. The new charges include occurrences of coercion, surveillance and disparate enforcement of rules at UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside, UPMC Mercy, Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC and University of Pittsburgh Physicians.

Nineteen supervisors are listed in the federal complaint, including three who were also named in previous labor violation complaints against UPMC. The complaint charges that UPMC as a single employer is responsible for labor violations occurring in their facilities. These charges come just three months after a historic decision by National Labor Relations Administrative Law Judge Mark Carissimi found that UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside “engaged in such egregious and widespread misconduct so as to demonstrate a general disregard for employees’ statutory rights.”

The new charges include coercively interrogating employees about their support for forming a union, enforcing rules and discipline differently based on union support and restricting employees from talking about forming a union while allowing other non-work related conversations.

It is critical that all UPMC employees know what our rights at work are so that we can protect ourselves when UPMC supervisors break the law. By standing together we can hold UPMC accountable to following the law, and we can form our union so that we have a permanent voice for fairness at work.

We Can Win

Recently, we won our jobs back as part of an historic legal decision against UPMC.

FB Graphic ShareThe federal judge’s ruling didn’t end there. In addition to ordering UPMC to put us back to work, the judge awarded us full back pay and ruled that UPMC must admit its guilt and respect the rights of all its employees. Our victory is a victory for all UPMC workers. Now more than ever, we know the movement for justice at UPMC cannot be stopped. Like many of you, we will not stop until we win fair wages, affordable healthcare, and decent treatment at our jobs.

UPMC tried everything to stop us. From hiring high-priced out-of-town lawyers to offering us significant financial settlements to walk away. It’s time we asked: Why does UPMC fight so hard to keep its workers from forming a union? The answer is simple. Because they know we can win.

We know very well that UPMC will try to drag out the process of bringing us back by spending thousands of dollars on legal appeals, dollars that would be better spent on improving patient care and paying hospital workers a living wage. But the truth is: the judge’s decision isn’t going anywhere and neither are we.

It wasn’t easy for us to turn down UPMC’s money offers. Like just about every UPMC worker, our families struggle to get by. But this fight is bigger than any one of us. We know — just like UPMC does — that UPMC workers are going to form our union. By standing together, we will win better hospitals, better jobs, and a better Pittsburgh.

Together we can make it our UPMC

Ron Oakes, Transport

Jim Staus, Supply

Al Turner, Shuttle Driver

URA Board Tells UPMC Straighten its Act

URA LogoEarlier this month, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), the agency that oversees economic development for our city, heard from residents, patients and workers about the need to hold UPMC accountable before investing more public money in its business.

Georgeanne Koehler, a former employee of Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, told members of the URA board: “I think it’s great that UPMC wants to build a neonatal intensive care unit because it will save lives. [But] this is about a community that has given millions and millions to UPMC. And in return, UPMC closes the door on those of us who want to see our longstanding doctor, it pays workers wages that hold our entire economy back and it fires workers when they speak up about improving jobs.”

Georgeanne was joined by UPMC workers, Reverend Rodney Lyde, and others from the community.

Leaders of the URA heard us.

In an unprecedented move, members of the Board decided to send a letter to UPMC expressing their concerns [link] about how UPMC treats people in our communities and calling on the healthcare institution to do more to “address these financial and moral issues in a responsible manner.”

The letter reads: 

 “It is hereby conveyed to the board and executive leadership of UPMC – in recognition of its leadership role in the community, its status as the largest private employer in the Pittsburgh region, and a critical stakeholder in the economic and fiscal health of the region and its people – that the Board of Directors of the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh strongly urges UPMC to take positive action toward improving the wages of UPMC service workers, allowing its workers to exercise their right to organize without undue interference, maintaining a strong network of regional hospitals that provide reliable access to diverse and economically challenge communities, expanding and improving care using UPMC’s own considerable balance sheet for capital investment instead of relying on increasingly scarce public funds such as RACP, improving and reinstating relationships with all of the region’s major health insurance providers to ensure continuity of access to UPMC doctors and facilities, and establishing a strong leadership positon among non-profit stakeholders in the region by investing in and supporting the City, County and School District by providing for the substantial infrastructure and public services costs enjoyed across your wide real estate holdings .”

Click Here To Read The Full Letter

Faced with the growing calls for change, UPMC is on notice that it can’t continue business as usual. When Pittsburghers stand together and stand up to UPMC – just as we need before the URA board last week — we are making changes that strengthen our city.

We are Making it Our UPMC.

Whatever It Takes

This summer my co-workers and I led a march of hundreds of us to take our demands for good jobs straight to UPMC’s corporate headquarters. Many of us were willing to show UPMC that we’re going to do whatever it takes to put an end to their illegal treatment of workers – and 28 of us were arrested.

Stand With Us – Join Our Pre-Trial Rally – RSVP on Facebook Here

This Monday we are heading to court to answer to our charges. Once again, we will stand together united and continue our calls for UPMC to stop holding us back. This new economy should be providing a path out of poverty and into the middle class for thousands of us in Pittsburgh – but that won’t happen unless workers like me have a voice on the job.

Can you stand with all of us who were arrested while calling on UPMC to stop holding Pittsburgh back?

Rally to support UPMC workers and community members arrested standing up for good jobs.

Monday, November 24th – 11:30 AM
Municipal Court. 660 First Ave, Pittsburgh.
Click here to RSVP on Facebook

Together we can make it our UPMC

Joe Kennedy
Cook – UPMC Presby

Thank You.

"We know that the fight isn’t over. And together we will continue fighting until UPMC does right by our city." - Ron Oakes

“We know that the fight isn’t over. And together we will continue fighting until UPMC does right by our city.” – Ron Oakes

Thank you for all of your support and for continuing to stand with me and my coworkers as we fight for good family sustaining jobs at UPMC.

Yesterday we celebrated the decision from a federal administrative judge who ruled that the way UPMC Presby-Shadyside has been treating me and my co-workers is illegal and that me and 3 of my co-workers must be reinstated and given back pay. We were joined by City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak, City Councilwoman Deb Gross, State Senator Matt Smith and State Representatives Dan Frankel and Ed Gainey, along with community supporters from all over Pittsburgh.

When UPMC fired me for the first time, I felt like there was no way I could stand up to UPMC and win. But with your support and the support of my co-workers, we fought back and won. That’s why when UPMC fired me for a second time I knew that what it did was illegal and that if we stood firm in our resolve we would be vindicated. I was right.

This is a major victory and step in our journey towards holding UPMC accountable. We need your support and solidarity now more than ever as we call on UPMC to put an end to its illegal campaign of harassment and intimidation of its workers. We need to know the community won’t back down in calling on the employer to stop its legal games and start working with us to improve jobs for our families.

We know that the fight isn’t over. And together we will continue fighting until UPMC does right by our city.

Together we can make it our UPMC.

Ron Oakes

p.s. Here is some of the great coverage of yesterday’s victory rally:

Judge Orders Former UPMC Employees Be Reinstated – WESA.FM

SEIU, workers celebrate NLRB ruling – Pittsburgh Business Times

UPMC ordered to reinstate workers who tried to unionize employees – Post Gazette

A Textbook Example of a Boss’s Campaign to Destroy a Union – In These Times

NLRB rules in favor of, reinstates workers at UPMC

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

Standing up for the future of Pittsburgh

Supply clerk Jim Staus was fired not long after he wore a union button to his job at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital. After the ensuing year-long litigation, UPMC offered Jim a significant financial settlement to walk away.

Award-winning Pittsburgh filmmaker Phinehas Hodges captures Jim’s story as he struggles with the decision to accept the money, or to fight on, in hopes of better jobs for generations to come.

This is Jim’s story:

Share Jim’s Story on Facebook

Share Jim’s Story on Twitter

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