SEIU President Calls Out UPMC in Labor Day Speech Advocating “Unions for All” Plan

*From Labor Day 2019

Mary Kay Henry, SEIU President

This morning, Service Employees International Union President Mary Kay Henry spoke at Pittsburgh’s Labor Day parade, where she called for every 2020 candidate and all elected officials to embrace SEIU’s “Unions for All” agenda, a plan critically needed across the country to respond to local employers like UPMC. For years, UPMC has opposed its workers at every turn, and now they’ve linked arms with the Trump Administration — helping to overturn an almost 40-year legal precedent granting unions access to public places.

The recently-introduced Unions for All plan calls for workers organizing and bargaining across industries, instead of the workplace-by-workplace system currently used in the United States. Bargaining by industry is critically necessary in Pittsburgh, where UPMC sets local employment standards as even as it chips away at workers’ basic rights.

In her speech, Henry recognized labor’s deep history in Pittsburgh and demanded that UPMC, the region’s largest employer, landowner, and hospital live up to that history. Henry said, “Labor Day is important in Pittsburgh — this city was built by unions. It’s time for UPMC to honor that legacy by respecting its employees’ right to organize, instead of aligning with Trump’s National Labor Relations Board to chip away at workers’ rights and increase profits for executives.”

The Unions for All plan is a comprehensive workers’ rights agenda that would:

“Bargaining by industry, where workers from multiple companies sit across a table from the largest employers in their industry to negotiate nationwide for wages and benefits, is standard practice in almost every developed country in the world,” said Henry.

As Pittsburgh’s largest employer, UPMC sets the standard for wages and working conditions across the region. But Pittsburgh’s workers are sorely in need of new standards, ones negotiated by employers, workers and the government; not one determined by the highly paid executives who are singularly focused on profits.

“I was born and raised in Pittsburgh,” said Chaney Lewis, a transporter from UPMC Presbyterian. “Pittsburgh is a union town, and UPMC should see our union history as an opportunity to work with us to provide good jobs and good care. My coworkers and I work long and hard hours to keep UPMC hospitals running so they can continue to provide some of the best healthcare in the country. I’m tired of our bosses and politicians chipping away at our basic rights.”

We are UPMC hospital workers — these are our stories from the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.