From Cranberry to Pittsburgh to Altoona, We Stand Together
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.
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.
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.
The Members of UPMC Sherwood Oaks
I too work at UPMC as a health care provider and, like many of my hard-working co-workers, am very concerned about the way UPMC is treating its front line employees. It’s keeping their wages stagnant, asking them to do more, and cutting jobs. And the money it “saves” by this approach is going straight into the pockets of their executives who see huge bonuses year after year. It is very demoralizing. A demoralized workforce that does not have faith in its management does not bode well for high quality patient care.
Did anyone else notice that UPMC just engaged in blatant wage theft?
They promised merit wage increases based on reviews given in June/July. The pay raise was supposed to be applied then, but they were withholding the funds until the Sept 26 paycheck, so that the increase would be paid in the new fiscal year. Then, come Sept 26, we learn that they chose not to pay that money, as promised. Instead, they chose to change the amount of the increase for the rest of the year. But if an employee is tired of their bullshit and leaves, they will be cheated out of the money that they have already earned, that UPMC had already agreed to pay.
Even our managers were blindsided. They all thought we were going to be getting a separate check with our accrued raises in it. Maybe UPMC realized that if they paid us as they promised, we would see how paltry the raise worked out to be and be angry. Maybe they have some other unfathomable agenda. I’m sure they figured that we would just take it, like we just take all the other abuses they heap upon us. But I am outraged. It doesn’t matter if it was just going to be $50 or so… they promised to pay it to me, and I want them to keep their promise. They expect me to keep my commitments to them. How come UPMC gets to play by a different set of rules than anyone else?
I haven’t seen anything in the news about this, but it is a big deal. Across thousands of UPMC employees, a lot of money was just stolen from people who can’t afford to have it taken away by their employer. A higher percentage raise in the future in lieu of the pay I have already earned is not what I agreed to when I worked those hours. UPMC stole my wages from me, and I am not going to just shut up and take this treatment from them anymore.