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Latest News - December 2012

December 20, 2012
Labor board files union-busting complaint vs UPMC
Source: The Associated Press

Officials at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center have tried to intimidate service and maintenance workers from unionizing by implicitly threatening to fire them or otherwise retaliating against organizers, according to a National Labor Relations Board complaint.

UPMC officials deny any wrongdoing as spelled out in the 30-page complaint alleging 80 unfair labor practices. Among other things, the labor board wants the hospital network—the state's largest private employer with about 56,000 workers—to repay any employees allegedly suspended for union activities and to reinstate those who the labor board alleges were fired for union activity.

The labor board's complaint is based on allegations leveled by SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, which has been trying to organize service and maintenance workers at UPMC's Presbyterian, Montefiore, Shadyside and Magee-Womens hospitals in recent months.

"The issuance of a complaint does not mean that UPMC has committed any violations of labor law," hospital network spokeswoman Gloria Kreps said in a statement. "The NLRB has dismissed some of SEIU's allegations, but has decided to issue a complaint regarding some that remain."

"UPMC looks forward to this opportunity to tell our side of the story," the statement said, referring to a Feb. 5 hearing on the complaint before an administrative law judge.

The complaint lists instances in which UPMC supervisors led workers to believe the hospital network is monitoring union organizing and allegedly encouraged workers to report such activities by others.

The complaint said the director of the gastrointestinal lab at UPMC Presbyterian in February told employees to call police rather than let union organizers visit their homes. In March, another supervisor at the same hospital allegedly threatened to fire workers who gave union organizers contact information for other workers.

A statement from the union said UPMC workers were trying "to frighten workers out of taking part in union-organizing activity."

Robert Chester, regional director of the labor board, said the complaint filed Wednesday was the largest against a single employer in the four year's he's headed the Pittsburgh office.



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