Saying that SEIU is demanding that Pittsburgh medical conglomerate UPMC force their employees to join their union is pushing it, however so are the demands they are making when it comes to wages. UPMC already has a base wage for service personnel set at $11, with a fifty cent raise that starts after six months of employment. That is approximately $2 more an hour than most other workers in the region doing the same jobs receive. That isn't good enough for SEIU.
As CBS affiliate KDKA-2 reports:
UPMC didn’t immediately comment on the rally, but has said the network’s starting hourly wage for such workers is $11, more than the $10 minimum wage that labor activists have been pushing the country to adopt.
“I take home less than 350 a week. Less than,” UPMC employee Christoria Hughes said. “We need higher minimum wage. We should start at least $15 an hour.”
Union protesters set up in front of the corporation's headquarters in downtown Pittsburgh for two days, and made their demands for higher wages. It can be assumed this is associated with a recent ad buy SEIU has made in the Pittsburgh market, that offers an example of a man that works for UPMC, but doesn't seek medical care when he really needs it - he can't afford it on the wages they pay. While many workers undoubtedly do have trouble making ends meet now, even if these workers would get the wages SEIU is demanding for them, it wouldn't help all that much.
At the Pittsburgh protest, there were union members from far and wide, and the reporters at KDKA talked with one from Philadelphia. Her claim was that the workers deserved higher wages of course, but for whom? The union is willing to pay people to cross the Commonwealth to protest against UPMC, and the money to pay for that expense is coming from union dues. SEIU is not fighting for higher wages for workers. They are fighting for more workers to represent, and the added revenue they receive when they get them. And as was seen in Pittsburgh for the past couple days, they tend to get loud and angry when they don't get what they want. While they are not getting a direct meeting with UPMC, they dispersed when Mayor Bill Peduto delivered them a message that he would speak with the corporation on their behalf. The union demands are just part of the Mayor's agenda with UPMC, since he is also determined to settle issues with Highmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield, that will leave many Western Pennsylvania residents unable to use UPMC health services without incurring high out-of-network rates.