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NLRB, UPMC negotiating to settle labor charges

| Monday, Feb. 4, 2013, 11:40 a.m.

UPMC is in negotiations to settle a National Labor Relations Board complaint that it illegally thwarted union-organizing efforts at its Oakland and Shadyside hospitals.

Robert Chester, the NLRB's regional director in Pittsburgh, said an administrative law hearing that had been scheduled for Tuesday was moved to Feb. 20, “pending settlement negotiations.”

“We're attempting to work out a settlement,” Chester said. “I remain optimistic, but I'm not able to discuss the terms.”

The NLRB in December issued a complaint against UPMC, the largest hospital system in Western Pennsylvania, alleging it “implicitly threatened employees with job loss because they supported the union,” the complaint said.

UPMC spokeswoman Gloria Kreps declined to comment on the possible settlement.

The SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania union since last year has tried to organize service and maintenance employees at UPMC Presbyterian, UPMC Shadyside, UPMC Montefiore and Magee-Womens hospitals. The union filed charges with the NLRB in May.

SEIU spokeswoman Krysta Curl declined to comment.

The NLRB accused UPMC and its managers of unfair labor practices, including 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.

The union 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.

Alex Nixon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7928 or anixon@tribweb.com.

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