Solidarity On Display In Freezing Altoona, Where 800 Registered Nurses From UPMC Held A One Day Strike

UPMC, Pennsylvania’s largest private employer and the beneficiary of tax-exempt status, posted $1.3 billion in profits over the last three years, but refuses to bargain in good faith with their registered nurses in Altoona.  Today’s one day strike was about demanding that UPMC be held accountable to the community, and use their resources to improve the quality of care for their patients, and the quality of jobs in the Altoona region.

When an employer the size of UPMC undermines the collective bargaining process, or lowers wages or benefits for their employees, they impact jobs across the region and across the Commonwealth.  It is unconscionable that a non-profit organization that receives hundreds of millions of dollars in annual tax exemptions would turn around and seek to lower employment standards in the communities that support them.

Today, Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Frank Snyder, and Community Services Director Carl Dillinger were in Altoona to march in the snow and ice with the 800 registered nurses from SEIU Healthcare PA.  Bob Kutz, President of the Blair-Bedford CLC, and Frank Snyder both addressed the crowd, surrounded by nurses, firefighters, and members of many public and private sector unions.  SEIU-HCPA President Neal Bisno provided inspirational remarks and words of encouragement to his members.  Penelec utility workers from UWUA Local 180, who have been locked out from their employer since Thanksgiving, were there to join the striking nurses and show that in Pennsylvania, union members of all stripes stand together and truly understand that an injury to one is an injury to all.

On Wednesday evening at 7pm there will be a community rally at Altoona Area High School, to show support for these nurses who are standing for their community and united for their patients.  Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale and many area labor leaders will be there.  The message, not just for our nurses at UPMC but to workers across the Commonwealth is a simple one – your fight is our fight, and we will face our challenges together.

There are amazing photos and videos on SEIU Healthcare PA’s Facebook Page, please share them with your friends, and tell UPMC to start acting like the pillar of the community they claim to be.  That starts by respecting all of their workers, and negotiating with them in good faith!