My name is Latasha Tabb. I went to school to be a medical assistant because, like many young women, I thought it was the best opportunity to get a good job doing something important and meaningful while also making a decent living. After 3 years of schooling I am now $33,000 in debt and I’m only paid $12.92 an hour. Working in the medical field is a lot different than I had imagined. My husband and I both work very hard to provide for our family and make sure that our son, Jodi, has quality childcare and the things he needs to be happy and healthy.
This industry is heavily dominated by working mothers, some of them single mothers, all of us doing everything we can to build a good life for ourselves and our families. We are the mothers and the caretakers in the hospitals but it seems like there’s no one taking of us or looking out for our wellbeing.
In addition to being a very loving mother, I’m also a very determined woman. That’s why I constantly talk to my coworkers about the importance of forming a union and standing up for better pay and affordable healthcare.
My name is Lou Berry. I’ve worked in housekeeping at UPMC Montefiore for nine years. Working at UPMC—a multi- billion dollar institution — means that I can’t reach for the American Dream. That’s why for the past three years, I’ve been fighting for union rights at UPMC. Some people don’t totally understand the fear that has been grown inside the hospitals. They know that multiple people were fired and they know that they we won in court. But for a lot of the people who I work with, who already are living paycheck to paycheck, you fear that if you lose your job at UPMC, you will basically be blacklisted from any healthcare job in Pittsburgh.
I don’t think it’s only workers who are sometimes scared by giants like UPMC. I know that if workers and elected officials and community members here in Pittsburgh move past our fears and do what’s right, we will rebuild these jobs.
I have worked at UPMC Presby for the past 6 years as a grill cook. Because of UPMC’s low wages, the money I make is not enough to make ends meet. I rely on the local food pantry to stretch our food budget. I have no hope of contributing to my UPMC 401 K program for my retirement, which makes it very difficult to be able to plan for my and my family’s future.
I am tired of being intimidated for speaking out about the need for a union in our hospitals. As UPMC has been cited by the NLRB administrative judge for its unfair labor practices and the illegal firing of employees for union organizing- UPMC must step back and allow workers to organize the way they did at AGH. I believe workers should have a voice at work. I know that this will not happen overnight, but I truly believe that together, as a city, we can transform these hospitals into the thriving centers of jobs and economic growth that they should be.
That’s why I’m fighting for $15 and hour and union rights.
My name is Chaney Lewis. I have worked at Presbyterian hospital for the past eleven years as a transporter. I bring a lot of skills to the table. I’m a trained dental assistant, completed a two-week specialized training to transport heart patients who are on heart monitors, and know how to do jobs I’m not required to, such as dispatch. Even with my experience and extra training I’m still only paid $11.97 an hour.
I believe that an employer that can pay its top executives millions and millions has the ability to start making its frontline workers a priority too. That’s why we’re fighting this fight: UPMC can do better by Pittsburgh by working with us to create good jobs and pay a living wage, $15 an hour. 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.
“I was a supplies tech at UPMC Presbyterian hospital for 23 years until UPMC suddenly laid me off this month. UPMC’s priorities are not about
lifting workers and Pittsburgh. Instead, UPMC eliminates needed workers who help the system run to pay for new hospitals, a corporate jet and
million-dollar executive salaries.”
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.
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.
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.
That’s why I started fighting for $15 an hour and a union at UPMC.
Like many of the workers at UPMC, my family struggles because of the low wages and high health care costs. Every day I go to work, I see money spent on fancy renovations and remodeling but my co-workers and I go year after year without even cost of living raises. I know UPMC gets millions of dollars in tax breaks every year, and I know that they make millions of dollars in profit too. When I take my children to the doctor, and I can barely afford to get their prescriptions filled because of the insurance that UPMC offers, I have a very hard time understanding why.
Everyone told me that if you wanted to get ahead go into the healthcare field, so I did and got an associates’ degree. Almost 20 years later, I’m only making $11.81 an hour and I have to rely on food stamps, heating assistance and food pantries to support my family. I came to work at UPMC because I thought there would be opportunities to move up if I worked hard, but I just feel stuck. Forming aunion with my co-workers is what’s giving me hope we can make these jobs good middle-class jobs.
Pittsburgh used to be the kind of place where you could get ahead if you worked hard. I can see the way it used to be under all the boarded up houses in run-down neighborhoods. We’re all working so hard to just get by that we can’t get ahead. I want our kids 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.