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Charges against UPMC have merit, NLRB says

| Friday, Sept. 6, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

The National Labor Relations Board is trying to negotiate a settlement with UPMC over allegations that the hospital giant violated federal labor law, the board's regional director in Pittsburgh said on Thursday.

The agency has completed an investigation of charges brought by a union trying to organize UPMC service workers and found that some of the union's allegations of illegal firings, intimidation and other violations have merit, said Bob Chester, regional director in Pittsburgh.

Chester declined to detail where his office found violations because of the ongoing negotiations between UPMC and the SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania union.

UPMC spokeswoman Gloria Kreps said the NLRB's regional office “has set in motion a process that could, if the claims are not resolved, go to a hearing before an administrative law judge. At any such hearing, UPMC would have a full opportunity to defend against the claims, which we believe are without foundation.”

In April, SEIU alleged unfair labor practices by UPMC, including harassment and suspension of workers interested in organizing a union at several UPMC hospitals in Oakland. It was the second set of charges filed by the union against UPMC in its effort to organize the system's service workers.

In February, UPMC settled with the NLRB in connection with a complaint against the hospital system stemming from earlier charges by the union.

“We need UPMC to work with us to make sure that while we're delivering great care, we're also creating good jobs,” Leslie Poston, a unit secretary at UPMC Presbyterian, said in a statement provided by SEIU. “But rather than having a real conversation about uplifting the largest group of UPMC employees, UPMC has harassed, intimidated and even fired us for joining together.”

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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