SEIU, Workers Celebrate NLRB Ruling

Solidarity action vs UMPC earlier this year

By Kris B. Mamula

Reporter- Pittsburgh Business Times

Nov. 17, 2014 – Union and elected officials on Monday celebrated a National Labor Relations Board ruling that reinstated four fired UPMC workers and restored benefits and wages to fifth employee for union organizing activities.

"UPMC has been acting above the law," City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak told union members and others who turned out for a news conference attended by a couple dozen people. "UPMC is not above the law."

The rally came as Mayor Bill Peduto has been reaching out to UPMC and other nonprofits in the city about voluntarily compensating the city for services in lieu of property taxes. Peduto was not at the news conference Monday, but he called for "long-term financing agreements" with the city’s nonprofits in an address to council Nov. 10.

Rudiak conducted the news conference at the City-County Building downtown and called on UPMC to "stop the intimidation, retaliation and legal maneuvers that keep us down." Separating the nonprofit contribution and unionization issues at UPMC would be "dangerous," Rudiak said.

The NLRB on Nov. 14 ruled that the hospital giant had disciplined and fired employees for try to unionize, which violates federal law. The Service Employees International Union has been trying to organize UPMC’s Oakland hospitals for nearly three years, but a vote by employees has not been scheduled.

"It’s been a long battle," said Ron Oakes who transports hospitalized patients at UPMC and who was ordered reinstated. "They fired me twice" within three weeks. "We’ll never give up."

Jim Staus, who earns $11.81 an hour as a central supply worker at UPMC, said he was fired for wearing a pro-union button. He was also reinstated by the NLRB.

"UPMC is not doing right by the community," Staus said. "We want the union because we want to join the middle class."

State Rep. Dan Frankel, a Democrat from Squirrel Hill, called the NLRB’s ruling a "breathtaking decision," saying UPMC’s "anti-union, anti-worker" actions were reminiscent of the robber barons of the early 20 th century. "Act like a purely public charity that our laws grant you," Frankel said to cheers from the crowd.

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