Judge: UPMC engaged in unfair labor practices; appeal planned

| Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014, 7:49 p.m.

UPMC lost a round this week in its ongoing battle with unionization attempts when a judge with the National Labor Relations Board ruled the hospital giant engaged in unfair labor practices and violated federal law.

In a 123-page decision dated Friday, Administrative Law Judge Mark Carissimi ruled largely in favor of the Service Employees International Union, which is attempting to unionize some 3,500 non-clinical UPMC employees, on 21 issues, including reinstating four workers with back pay who the judge found were terminated for union-related activities.

UPMC spokesman Paul Wood said the hospital system would appeal the ruling to the full NLRB.

“We are disappointed by the administrative law judge's decision, and disagree with his findings. We believe the record fully supported our actions with regard to under-performing employees and failed SEIU organizing efforts in which our employees have shown little to no interest,” Wood said.

The judge issued a cease-and-desist order from certain UPMC practices, including denying non-employee organizers access to its cafeteria, engaging in surveillance of employees and organizers, threatening an employee with a poor evaluation because of union activities and prohibiting employees from wearing union insignia in non-patient care areas, according to the filing.

“This is an important victory for me and for all my co-workers at UPMC hospitals across the city,” said Jim Staus, one of the reinstated employees. “We stood our ground and proved that UPMC has been breaking the law. Now we need UPMC to make a real commitment to stop violating workers' rights and to let us form our union without illegal harassment or intimidation.”

Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7886 or bkerlik@tribweb.com.

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