Despite an announcement last month that it would phase in a $15 per hour starting wage, UPMC saw a crowd of union protesters, students and some employees marching outside Montefiore Hospital in Oakland calling for more money and a union.
Several speakers urged the crowd to demand $15 and hour and “If we don’t get it—shut it down.”
Though some of the participants either walked off their jobs or did not report for their shifts to join the April 14 protest, UPMC issued a statement saying it would not intervene.
“We respect employees’ rights to engage in legally protected activities and will not prevent the participation of any employees who choose to join,” said spokesperson Gloria Kreps.
The rally was part of the nationwide “Fight for 15” effort by the Service Employees International Union to organize workers in entry-level positions. Students also railed against the University of Pittsburgh because it caps the number of hours students can work and primarily pays minimum wages.
Latasha Tabb, a medical assistant in the neurology department at Children’s Hospital, said the rally was about solidarity.
“I’m here to stand up with my co-workers to win $15 and a union,” she said. “We want to make Pittsburgh a livable city, not just for those who can afford it, but for everyone.”