Not a living wage

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Recently Pittsburgh United invited me to speak about my experience as a UPMC employee. For 7 1/2 years, I made sure that nurses at UPMC had whatever they needed to care for patients. I worked hard every day to take care of my family, but it got harder to make ends meet.

UPMC claims that average pay for a worker like me is either $19 per hour ("Group Says That UPMC Wage Scale Is Harmful," Aug. 22) or $21 per hour ("Unions Support Organizing Effort at UPMC During Labor Day Parade," Sept. 3). These inconsistent "average" figures are fantasy. The reality is that I made just $11.81 an hour. I'm in debt to UPMC for medical care even though I pay for benefits that UPMC includes in its average salary figures. We rely on aid to put food on our table because benefits don't work at the checkout line.

I will do whatever it takes to support my family, but UPMC can afford to pay a living wage. When the opportunity came to form a union, I was eager. But on July 1, I was fired for openly supporting unionization. UPMC claims otherwise, but the National Labor Relations Board has investigated my firing and found that there is enough evidence to support the charge that I was fired because of my union activity.

UPMC can't silence me. And though things have gotten harder for my family, I refuse to back down. I'm going to keep standing up for good jobs at UPMC.

JIM STAUS
Mount Oliver


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