Faith and community leaders in the region are calling on the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center not to thwart unionization of its employees. They claim the health system is currently violating workers' rights. They held a demonstration outside UPMC Shadyside Wednesday afternoon.
Reverend David Thornton, pastor of the Grace Memorial Presbyterian Church, said the goal is to press UPMC to work towards justice and equity for its workers.
"The workers who work so very hard for UPMC to be able to sustain themselves as thriving families as opposed to surviving families," Thornton said, "especially given the world-class reputation that the UPMC medical center has."
Thornton said he has had conversations with UPMC employees over the past two months who are dissatisfied with the working conditions.
"While they appreciate the wonderful job that UPMC does as far as health care, that the long working hours and the pay is lacking," Thornton said. "The pay prevents them from living the kinds of middle-class lifestyles that they deserve, working as hard as they do."
It's up to workers to decide to be a part of the bargaining unit, but the more workers, the stronger their voices will be. Thornton proposes that UPMC look to Allegheny General Hospital's union models for workers. AGH's nurses are organized in a union, and the Allegheny Valley location's (formerly Allegheny Kiski) employees are all organized in a union.
UPMC, the region's largest employer, did not respond to several requests for comment.