NLRB issues labor complaint against UPMC, union says
UPMC will head to a hearing before a federal administrative law judge over allegations that the hospital operator illegally thwarted union organizing, the National Labor Relations Board said.
The agency accused UPMC, the largest hospital system in Western Pennsylvania, of unfair labor practices against workers this year at four hospitals in Pittsburgh, according to an NLRB complaint issued this week.
UPMC “implicitly threatened employees with job loss because they supported the union,” said the 30-page complaint, which seeks an order forcing UPMC to stop its alleged violations of labor law.
The SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania union, which for months has tried to organize service and maintenance employees at UPMC Presbyterian, UPMC Shadyside, UPMC Montefiore and Magee-Womens Hospital, filed charges with the NLRB in May.
The union said the complaint shows that UPMC managers tried “to frighten workers out of taking part in union-organizing activity.”
UPMC denied that it violated labor law and said it looks forward to telling its side of the story during the hearing, scheduled for Feb. 5 in the Moorhead Federal Building, Downtown.
“UPMC believes that our employees recognize the value of their current situation and know that they do not need a third party to take their money in the form of dues or to come between them and the work they are committed to doing, which is caring for our patients,” the system said in a statement.
The NLRB doesn't issue as many complaints as it once did, agency spokeswoman Nancy Cleeland said, but it's not a rare occurrence. The agency issued about 1,300 complaints last year, down from about 2,200 in 2001.
“Our case numbers have gone down in recent years because there isn't as much union activity,” she said.
The union declined to provide an estimate of how many UPMC workers it is targeting. It has not filed with the NLRB to hold an election. It takes at least 30 percent interest from potential union members to hold an election, Cleeland said.
UPMC is the largest private employer in Pennsylvania, with about 56,000 employees.
The NLRB complaint alleges that UPMC managers illegally discouraged organizing by surveilling employees and interrogating them about union activities, threatening to fire employees who gave the union contact information for other employees, threatening action against employees who engaged in union activities during work hours or on UPMC property during off-hours and prohibiting the distribution of union material on UPMC property.
“When UPMC stands in the way of us having better jobs that we can support our families on, it affects everyone in Pittsburgh,” said C.J. Patterson, who works in UPMC Presbyterian's gastrointestinal laboratory. “As a charity that makes huge profits and gets millions of dollars in tax breaks, they should be doing everything they can to lift up their employees and our community.”
Alex Nixon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Add Alex Nixon to your Google+ circles.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Bayer plastics unit may be gone
- U.S. Steel shares jump on turnaround strategy
- Fed not budging on rate increase
- Consol, Noble expect at least $325 million from partnership’s IPO
- Investors applaud central bank’s decision
- UPMC buying New Castle-based Jameson Health System
- Mylan CEO Bresch sets sights on growth
- FedEx to add 50,000 seasonal jobs
- 2 top executives at Dick’s Sporting Goods to retire
- Fed speculation fuels stock gains; Dow rises 100 points
- Douglas Laboratories sells Klean Athlete: products free from banned substances