Service and technical workers at Allegheny General Hospital voted Wednesday to unionize with more than 80 percent of the 1,200 workers voting in approval.
The employees, including radiology and lab technicians, nursing assistants, secretaries and food service workers joined the state’s largest health care union, Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
“With our vote, we have taken a big step forward in health care. We want to build good communities and support a quality, fair health system that works for all of us,” said Darlene Nicholson, a laboratory processor at AGH.
Nicholson said she hopes with the union, more workers will take part in the decision-making process.
Aleisha Starkey, a unit secretary at the hospital, said she hopes a union can help unite her co-workers.
“I think it will have a huge impact on everybody in the hospital, the patients, the whole community and the whole city of Pittsburgh,” she said.
SEIU officials said unionization received 83 percent support from service workers and 72 percent from technical workers.
The hospital released a statement saying it is committed to a productive and collaborative relationship with employees.
“Although we strongly believe that effective labor-management relations can be achieved without the influence of a third party, we also respect the right of employees to organize.”
Nicholson said while the new union hasn’t gotten far in specific areas to address, she hopes all health care workers can celebrate the successful vote.
Workers at UPMC are also working to form a union a year after a federal Administrative Law Judge found that UPMC had violated workers’ rights at two of its hospitals. The hospitals were ordered to reinstate four workers and compensate the workers for lost hours.
UPMC worker Lou Berry, a housekeeper at UPMC Montefiore, released a statement following Allegheny General Hospital’s vote to unionize.
“Across Pittsburgh, UPMC workers are cheering AGH workers’ success. Whatever health system we work for, frontline hospital workers face a lot of the same challenges. We also share the same vision for an eds and meds economy that is built on good, family sustaining jobs and a city where all patients have access to high quality, affordable health care,” he said.