Nurses at Allegheny Health Network hospital vote to form union
On Monday March 9th, an overwhelming majority of registered nurses at Canonsburg General Hospital, part of the Allegheny Health Network, voted to come together to form a union with SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania so they can have a stronger voice to advocate for their patients, hospital and community.
Merri Beth Allen, a nurse who has worked at the hospital for 32 years said, “My coworkers and I work hard every day to provide the best care to our patients who are also our parents, our pastors, our neighbors and friends. We are in a changing health care environment, and through our union we can work with management to make our hospital even better for patients and the community who we serve and for each other.”
The nurses are forming their union with SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, joining service workers at Canonsburg General Hospital who have been members of the union for over 30 years.
“The 25,000 nurses and healthcare workers of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania are proud and excited to welcome the Canonsburg General Hospital RNs,” said Neal Bisno, President of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania. “Our union commends the leadership of AHN and the hospital for respecting the nurses’ right to choose to form a union, and we join the nurses in committing to work with management to make CGH the best that it can be for patients and the community served by the hospital.”
AHN’s approach stands in sharp contrast to that of UPMC, which a Federal labor judge found has “engaged in widespread and egregious misconduct,” including illegally firing, threatening, and surveilling workers who are coming together to build Pittsburgh’s middle class by organizing their union.
“My co-workers and I work hard every day to care for our patients, and just like the nurses at Canonsburg, we want what’s best for our community.” Said Leslie Poston, a unit secretary on the heart and lung transplant floor at UPMC Presbyterian. “We are forming our union to achieve a voice on the job, and pay and benefits at the area’s largest health system that can lift thousands of us out of poverty.”
Despite $1.1 billion in profits in the last three years and multi-million dollar executive pay, UPMC pays thousands of front-line healthcare workers well below what it takes to live in Pittsburgh, making it impossible for them to get by.
It is time for UPMC to stop bullying Pittsburgh and standing in the way of thousands of workers who are working together for good jobs and a healthy community.
AHN and Highmark see their employees (ALL employees. Even the lowest paid ones) as part of one team, even if there is disagreement from time to time among team members. UPMC, on the other hand, sees its employees, especially their lowest paid ones, as cogs in the wheel of their empire, to be used (and abused) to accumulate even greater wealth, much of which goes to their highest paid employees. Therein lies the difference between the two organizations.