Mayor Peduto and UPMC chief Romoff talk 'major issues'

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In an attempt to create an open line of communication, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said he and UPMC president and CEO Jeffrey Romoff discussed three major issues Wednesday afternoon.

Their two-hour-long meeting at UPMC's headquarters in the U.S. Steel Tower followed two days of protests outside the Grant Street building.

The leaders discussed those demonstrations, which called for unionization and higher wages for service workers at UPMC, the state's largest private employer.

Mr. Peduto said as conversations like Wednesday's continue, he hopes UPMC workers "won't need to" demonstrate again.

"The concerns of the [Service Employees International Union] are obviously felt and have been demonstrated for two years now. Two hours won't resolve that," Mr. Peduto said.

UPMC worker Lou Berry of Braddock and Rabbi Ron Symons, of the Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network, said in a statement released by the SEIU that they're pleased Mr. Peduto had a "productive" conversation with Mr. Romoff and that "we're ready to work with him and UPMC to achieve these critical goals."

The mayor said he and Mr. Romoff also talked about possible payment in lieu of taxes for the medical giant, which as a public charity is largely tax-exempt, and the ongoing feud between Highmark and UPMC that could leave Highmark subscribers locked out of UPMC's facilities next year.

Each party explained not only their stance on each issue, but also the reason for their opinion, Mr. Peduto said.

They agreed as much as their opinions differed, but the meeting was positive and had a good tone, the mayor said.

He declined to discuss specifics of the conversation.

"A long journey begins with the first step, and I think we took a couple steps," Mr. Peduto said at a news conference following the meeting.

UPMC spokesman Paul Wood said, "We had a very cordial and productive meeting [Wednesday] afternoon with the mayor, and there will be more to come."

He would not elaborate further.

Mr. Peduto said he would like to meet with Mr. Romoff again within four to six weeks to continue a "long-term dialogue."

The mayor and his chief of staff, Kevin Acklin, represented the city during Wednesday's talk, and UPMC's Mr. Romoff, two government relations officers and general counsel attended.

Lexi Belculfine:, 412-263-1878 or on Twitter @LexiBelc. Clarece Polke contributed.

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