UPMC workers plan to strike after Tuesday's public meeting
The signs marking the offices for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, UPMC, are seen on top of the U.S. Steel tower on Monday, April 3, 2017, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
After the annual UPMC public meeting on Tuesday, some of the nonprofit health system’s service workers will strike.
UPMC is the largest private employer in the state of Pennsylvania, operating both a health care network and insurance company. It said that its average service worker has made more than $15.09 an hour since February of last year.
But workers argue this pay is too low, and that their benefits aren’t enough to cover health care costs. Therefore, they’re asking UPMC to increase compensation and forgive medical debt.
One of the people with debt is Alexandria Cutler, a food service worker at both UPMC Presbyterian and Western Psychiatric hospitals. Cutler said she injured her back while on the job.
“We were really short [on employees] that day at work, so they asked me to do multiple jobs,” she said. “After a while, you know my body, started aching. But I kept pushing myself, I was worried about how they would feel if I told them I can’t keep going.
Cutler said she ended up in the emergency room, had to take time off work, and now has medical bills.
“Since they say they are a charity, we expect to, you know, be a little more lenient with somethings, such as the debt,” said Cutler.
A UPMC spokesperson said it was the first health care organization in the Pittsburgh region to commit to raising the average worker pay to $15 an hour, which shows that it invests in its workforce.
UPMC’s annual public meeting will take place at 1 p.m. in the 7th floor auditorium at Montefiore Hospital in Oakland.
This story originally appeared on WESA, which receives funding from UPMC.