Nine cited for trespassing during UPMC protest in Downtown Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh police today cited nine people for trespassing at the U.S. Steel Building as part of a protest this morning over wages.

The group was protesting against UPMC, the health-care giant that has administrative offices in the building. Police at the scene initially said about 15 people were cited and that none of the protesters entered the building.

The protesters claim UPMC pays substandard wages to lower-level employees and has been fighting against their attempts to unionize. UPMC has argued that its starting wages are higher than those of other employers in the region.

Those charged were not taken to the Allegheny County Jail but instead received a citation ordering them to appear in court later, police said.

Shortly before 11 a.m., the protesters announced that they had agreed to leave but chanted that they would be back.

Later, the group issued a statement in which Temple Sinai Rabbi Ron Symons, one of several religious leaders who attended, said protesters felt they have "a moral imperative -- an obligation -- to act and call on UPMC, our largest employer, to do the right thing."

UPMC spokeswoman Gloria Kreps said in an email that UPMC's starting wage for service workers is $1.52 an hour higher than the average provided to service workers at other companies in the area and that the company offers "superior health benefits."

Liz Navratil:, 412-263-1438 or on Twitter @LizNavratil. First Published February 27, 2014 11:28 AM

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