Rights groups agree to pay Pittsburgh half of UPMC protest costs
Representatives of labor and human rights groups that picketed outside UPMC's Downtown headquarters agreed to pay half of what it cost the city to provide them with police protection.
They considered challenging the $15,000 bill in court, saying they should not have to pay for exercising free speech rights, but backed off because they didn't want to engage the city in a legal battle, said Barney Oursler, executive director of Pittsburgh United.
“Their concern was about this becoming the focus,” he said. “They wanted the issues to stay on workers and workers' rights.”
Hundreds of pickets protested the wages UPMC pays its service workers, snarling morning traffic on Grant Street on March 3 and 4. They also lobbied for the workers' right to organize.
City code requires groups that stage large events such as parades and protests to pay half the costs when they total more than $750. The city will waive those costs if a group can prove it is indigent.
Police wages and overtime totaled about $30,000, according to Mayor Bill Peduto, who has met with UPMC about the workers' concerns. Peduto described the city's portion of the bill as the “cost of having a democratic society.”
“It's a fair system,” he said. “They agreed to pay it. Hopefully, the check's in the mail.”
Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-765-2312 or email@example.com.
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 â 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.