Chaney Lewis had lunch Friday, but plans to not take another bite for the next 168 hours.
UPMC workers, faith leaders and community activists gathered in front of the US Steel Building Friday to begin a week-long fast in protest of UPMC’s treatment of it’s workers.
Two UPMC employees will fast the entire week while protesting outside of UPMC’s downtown headquarters on Grant Street as a part of what they are calling Fast For Our Future.
“We’ve been fighting for more staffing, less workload and more pay,” said Cheney Lewis, a UPMC patient monitor tech who has volunteered to go without food for the next week in hopes of obtaining a living wage.
Pastor Philip Battle of New Light Baptist Church in the Hill District said the effort of these workers will serve as a symbol of those who are forced to fast everyday due to poor treatment by their employers.
“Because they don’t have sufficient wages they choose to fast so that their children can have a decent meal,” Battle said. “In other words, they miss a meal so they can purchase their bus pass to come and work at a place that isn’t paying them enough to feed their children.
According to Fast For Our Future, many UPMC workers are paid insufficiently for the work they do and have to use food stamps and food banks to feed their families.
UPMC transcriptionist Mary Hughes hopes that the Fast For Our Future effort will also show UPMC that workers are serious about unionizing.
“Of course we want a union — they say we don’t — that’s another reason why of course that I’m down here, to prove that’s a lie, that workers want a union and we want them to get out of the way and let us form it,” said Hughes.
Lewis and Hughes plan to be on the sidewalk outside of the US Steel Building until Good Friday, April 18. Several other UPMC workers will also be choosing to partake in shorter fasts throughout the week to show support of the protest.
Doctors and nurses from the community will attend to Lewis and Hughes throughout the week.