Earlier 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.
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
Cook – UPMC Presby
“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.
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
“Unfortunately, UPMC has been acting above the law and retaliating against workers who stand up for themselves and their co-workers,” she said, “but the decision by the National Labor Relations Administrative Judge is sweeping and clear. UPMC is not above the law.”
Judge Orders Former UPMC Employees Be Reinstated
It also ordered UPMC to post a three-page notice informing health system staff that the NLRB “has found that we violated federal labor law” and that the law gives UPMC employees the right to “form, join or assist a union; choose representatives to bargain with [UPMC] on your behalf; act together with other employees for your benefit and protection; choose not to engage in any of these protected activities.”
Labor judge scolds UPMC in legal ruling
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:
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
RSVP on Facebook – Click Here
Together we can make it our UPMC.
If you don’t quite get why workers fight to unionize, or the risks they take in doing so, this moving video might help you understand.
“It’s bigger than this money,” says Leslie Poston, a secretary in Heart and Lung Transplant department at UPMC Presbyterian who has been at UPMC for 11 years. “They’re not going to shut us up. We want them to be accountable.”
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:
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