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National & International News

Hospital Workers Join National Protest For Union Rights

Flickr user jrgcastro

Josh Malloy, 25, lives in East Liberty with his little brother and said his $12.50 per hour salary makes it difficult to keep up with the cost of living. 

Malloy has worked at UPMC Mercy in housekeeping for more than three years, and said he's spent most of that time fighting for workers' rights. He said UPMC’s decision to phase in a $15 an hour minimum wage was a victory, but the fight’s not over. Malloy said most of his coworkers want a union, but there’s a lot of fear of retribution.

Not from him.

“Oh, no, everyone knows I’m trying to unionize," Malloy said. "This last week, I handed in my strike notice on Thursday. I’m going on strike.”

Tens of thousands of low wage workers across the country are planning protests to demand a $15 an hour minimum wage and union rights. While fast food and other service workers have brought attention to the issue in recent years, organizers said this is the first time local hospital workers are joining in. 

The Service Employees International Union has, in the past, accused UPMC of violating labor laws. The National Labor Relations Board has also issued complaints, purporting the company stifled employee efforts to unionize.

In a statement to WESA, Media Relations Director Gloria Kreps said UPMC will continue to provide patient care throughout the strike, and that it will not prevent the efforts of any employees who wish to participate.