PITTSBURGH — Hundreds of workers rallied Nov. 18 at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center headquarters here demanding a $20-an-hour starting wage, better benefits, forgiveness of medical debt and union representation. The action, organized by SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, was organized as part of a one-day walkout.
“It is shameful that my co-workers and I have been pushed into medical debt while working for the largest medical provider in the state,” Nila Payton, a UPMC employee told the crowd. “Can you imagine receiving collection calls from your employer while on the clock?”
“I left at 4 a.m., joined the strike, and have been part of actions all day,” Quincy, a patient care technician in the gastrointestinal surgical unit at UMPC Montefiore who requested that his last name not be used, told this Militant worker-correspondent. Instead of hiring the workers needed, “they just hire casuals, and then they only work once every two weeks.”
“Staffing ratios are absurd,” said Tom Smith, who has worked two years in the emergency room at UMPC Mercy hospital. “Fifteen to 20 assignments for one worker in the ER. We have to deal with people in the hallway, nothing is safe.”
Gideon Crain, who works in the diet and food nutrition department, said there are jobs that need to be filled “and people would apply for them but UMPC won’t open them up.”