Minimum Starting Wage For UPMC Will Jump To $15 An Hour ... In A Few Years

Mar 29, 2016

UPMC employee Leslie Poston leads workers on a march to UPMC's downtown headquarters on February 3, 2014.
Credit Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Minimum starting salaries for entry-level positions at UPMC will jump from $11.73 an hour to $15 by 2021, officials announced Tuesday.

The current average hourly wage for service workers is about $13.38, according to Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer John Galley. In-house analysts estimate that average should jump to $15 by 2019. Gradual raises are set to begin in 2017.

The pay hike affects only Pittsburgh hospitals like Presbyterian, Shadyside, Children’s, Western Psych, Magee Women’s and Mercy, Galley said, but executives are considering wage increases for suburban and rural facilities as well. 

The average yearly salary for all UPMC employees -- including service workers, doctors, support staff, executives and others -- is about $64,000, or about $30.77 an hour.

Frequent protester and UPMC medical secretary Leslie Poston, 52, of Wilkinsburg said the bump will mean giving back to the community, vacations with growing children, paying bills and a better quality of life for she and her colleagues.

"They told us we would never get there to $15 an hour," she said. "It means a great deal for my coworkers and myself."

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald praised the move early Tuesday.

“We are honored to have our region's largest employer join us in our drive for $15 an hour,” Peduto said in a statement. “We still have a lot of work ahead of us to ensure that our new economy is an economy for all Pittsburghers, but today is a big step forward. I commend UPMC for taking this step on behalf of low income employees, many of whom are Pittsburgh residents, and for showing how good wages mean good business for employers.”

Galley said the Fight for $15, unionizing efforts and the national conversation around higher minimum wages didn't factor in UPMC's ultimate decision.

“We were aware of it, but honestly the decision to do this was an internal decision," Galley said. "We didn’t feel like we were being pressured by any external organization or any external governmental entity to do something. We’re doing this because we want to do it.”

The activist group Make It Our UPMC is attributing the wage increase to workers’ union organizing efforts and to pressure from local politicians.

City Councilman Ricky Burgess convened a wage review committee in 2015, which interviewed dozens of health care service workers. The committee's report recommended UPMC and Allegheny Health Network raise wages for workers to at least $15 an hour and support the formation of a union.

In March 2014, Peduto said he would begin mediating talks between UPMC and the Service Employees International Union, which has been seeking to organize hospital service workers for years.

UPMC is the state's largest non-government employer representing about 62,000 employees, and pay bumps are nothing new, he said. UPMC regularly increases wages, but this is the first time they’ve announced it. 

Galley said wages will also for all urban hospital service workers, meaning both the minimum and maximum pay is expected to rise. Galley said he didn't have figures for the current maximum pay right away.