UPMC settles dozens of unfair labor practices complaints filed by SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania

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UPMC has reached a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board regarding more than 80 unfair labor practice complaints filed by SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, which is trying to organize a union among non-clinical UPMC staff.

In a news release, SEIU said the Pittsburgh health system will be required to rescind its policies regarding preventing employees from talking about the union-organizing effort as long as it is not done in patient care areas. UPMC managers and supervisors also will undergo training about complying with labor laws.

Also, workers who were fired for their union-organizing activities will be reinstated with 80 percent back pay and have the terminations expunged from their personnel records, according to SEIU.

NLRB regional attorney Kim Siegert on Thursday confirmed the settlement of "the vast majority" of the complaints and said the few remaining will go to trial Feb. 20. He declined to confirm details of the settlement until the paperwork is complete.

In a statement Thursday, UPMC officials said, "The settlement terminates an overstated and disruptive collection of allegations initiated by a labor union that has been attempting to draw attention to itself for more than a year. We look forward to closing this chapter and returning our attention to delivering the excellent patient care for which we are well-known."

One of the workers expecting to get his job back is Frank Lavelle, 45, of Braddock Hills, who cleaned operating rooms. Mr. Lavelle, a 10-year Navy veteran, said he was fired from his $11.97-an-hour job in August for taking an unauthorized break, but he believes the real reason was because he talked about the union-organizing effort with colleagues. Prior to his firing, Mr. Lavelle said he had received good work reviews.

He vowed to continue supporting union organizing efforts.

Last week, a panel of three NLRB members denied UPMC's request for summary judgment on the complaints. UPMC had argued that it was only a holding company, so the employees filing the complaint were not technically UPMC employees.

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Steve Twedt: stwedt@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1963. First Published February 7, 2013 2:15 PM


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