UPMC ends contract with unionized cleaning firm

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A cleaning contract is the latest source of friction between UPMC and the Service Employees International Union.

Last month, UPMC canceled the contract with ServiceMaster, a Pitcairn company that cleans the Shadyside Medical Building next to UPMC Shadyside with unionized workers. It was replaced by a company that does not have a unionized labor force.

“UPMC has opened bidding for several cleaning contracts to both union and nonunion companies. We make decisions based upon service, quality and price, with no consideration given as to whether the companies submitting bids are union or non-union,” said Gloria Kreps, a UPMC spokeswoman.

The contract, which employed 10 cleaners, was held by the ServiceMaster franchise in Pitcairn. UPMC used an option in the contract to rebid it. The health system awarded a new contract to Manage It, a business that, Ms. Kreps pointed out, is woman-owned. The last day for the ServiceMaster cleaners will be June 27.

Another contract for a second building, University Center in Oakland, is also out for bid.

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“ServiceMaster is the union contractor that was in there and has been in there for more than 10 years,” said Sam Williamson, district director of SEIU Local 32BJ. ServiceMaster did not respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Williamson said the unionized cleaners, who earned $11.30 an hour, are “sacrificial pawns” in UPMC’s larger fight against the union.

The health system has been fighting charges filed by the National Labor Relations Board that it engaged in unfair labor practices in its effort to keep the SEIU from organizing its service workers.

UPMC stands in contrast to Allegheny General Hospital on the North Side, where U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez is scheduled to meet today with unionized workers.

“I look forward to meeting with workers and management of Allegheny General Hospital to learn more about … their partnership with SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania and how they have built a stronger hospital that serves its patients better through providing quality care, increased patient satisfaction, and higher cost-savings,” Mr. Perez said in an email.

“I look forward to hearing more from the workers at UPMC on the issues and challenges they have been facing. I think that when workers have an opportunity to have their voice heard in the workplace, we all benefit.”

Ann Belser: abelser@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1699.

Ann Belser: abelser@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1699.

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