Pittsburgh Labor Union Files Antitrust Complaint Against UPMC

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Pittsburgh — Trade union federation filed antitrust complaint against UPMC, saying hospital system is using its “monopoly” to curb wages for local health workers and limit options to find work elsewhere asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate whether .

A complaint filed Thursday by the SEIU Health Care and Strategic Organizing Center in Pennsylvania said UPMC has a “continued pattern of acquisitions and reductions in capacity in hospitals and the labor market.”

The health care giant, Pennsylvania’s largest private employer, has “restrained workers’ wages and benefits, greatly increased workloads, and reduced workers’ It said they were able to prevent retirement and improved working conditions, “violating laws fixing uncompetitive wages and working conditions.” 55 page filing.

“If, as we believe, UPMC is insulated from competitive market pressures, it will be able to maintain worker wages and benefits, and patient quality below competitive levels, while at the same time reducing labor costs to maintain them. It will continue to impose further restrictions and abuses on people who are “market power,” the complaint states. “We believe this conduct violates Section 2 of the Sherman Act and we respectfully request the Department of Justice to investigate UPMC and take action to stop this conduct.”

Matt Yarnell, president of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, said in a conference call with reporters on Thursday that the complaint is groundbreaking. “Because no one has ever filed a complaint saying that these movement restrictions and labor law violations are anti-competitive behavior and labor law violations.” [sic] Federal Antitrust Law. “

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Antitrust litigation usually focuses on whether the seller is big enough to have monopoly power that can raise prices, such as when there is no competition. In the case of Monopsony, companies often control purchases in specific markets, such as regions where they control most of their employment. UPMC has about 92,000 workers, according to the complaint.

“Traditionally, there are two ways workers compete in the labor market for jobs,” Yarnell said. “They can quit their current jobs and look for better ones, or they can stay in their current jobs and try to get better working conditions.”

But UPMC used non-competition agreements and “no rehiring” practices to discourage employees from unionizing and cut off this avenue of competition, he added.

The complaint also states that the worker-to-patient ratio at UPMC facilities has fallen to levels that could impact patient care. “As of 2020, UPMC ratios are on average 19% lower than average non-UPMC staffing ratios,” according to the complaint.

UPMC nurse Jodi Faltin said on a conference call that staffing shortages are a constant concern, with workers often holding back for fear of losing their jobs or being unable to find new jobs on the ground. said.

“When three-quarters of Pittsburgh’s hospital jobs are at UPMC, the options are limited,” says Faltin. And I didn’t become a nurse to maximize UPMC’s profits. I’m not interested in expanding empires or increasing executive bonuses. I value my colleagues earning a living wage, receiving affordable healthcare, and being supported to provide safe and compassionate care. “

UPMC’s chief public affairs officer, Paul Wood, issued an emailed statement, saying the hospital refuted the allegations in the complaint.

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Nursing care at UPMC [patients’] By focusing on urgency and need, rather than staffing ratios, we are able to be flexible in our staffing and assign the nurses who best meet the needs of our patients,” the statement reads. The statement also said there is no policy to prohibit employees who have left UPMC from being employed at another UPMC facility.

“The average wage at UPMC is over $78,000,” the statement said. “There is no other employer of the size and scope in the areas UPMC serves that offers high-paying jobs at all levels and such average wages.”

US Congressman Summer Lee, Democratic 12th District, said in a call that the health care system:Abusing power to exploit workers and patients with taxpayer backing. ”

“My hometown of Braddock lost its only hospital and biggest employer in 2010 for the same reason McKeesport closed its ICU this year,” Lee continued. “It’s the same reason western Pennsylvania is facing a crisis of hospital shortages that endanger the lives of our loved ones. And our nurses and paramedics are underpaid. It’s the same reason we owe the hospitals we work for in medical debt,” he said, speaking out for patients who are being preyed upon by high medical costs and poor quality of care. face retaliation against “

Please read the full complaint below.

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