Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Nurses Will Vote on Ousting Seiu at Upmc Mckeesport

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Nurses Will Vote on Ousting Seiu at Upmc Mckeesport

Article excerpt

This year, union nurses at UPMC McKeesport will begin negotiating a new three-year labor contract with the hospital.

But the Service Employees International Union that represents the nearly 200 nurses there faces a more immediate, existential challenge - one brought by some among its own ranks.

A group of union nurses is seeking to kick out the SEIU, which has represented employees at the hospital for decades. The nurses filed a petition in December with the National Labor Relations Board, asking for an election that would determine whether members still want to be part of the union.

The federal labor board, which requires at least 30 percent of all employees in a workplace to agree to an election, approved the petition and set the date for Jan. 30, according to labor board filings.

The attempt to decertify comes as the labor organization has been actively organizing health care workers at other workplaces across the region.

The SEIU has won 20 of 24 union elections in its push to organize hospital workers in Western Pennsylvania, according to a review of elections certified by the labor relations board office in Pittsburgh. In the summer of 2015, SEIU captured one of the biggest prizes of any union in this region when it organized about 1,400 service, technical and office employees at Allegheny General Hospital on the North Side.

The union has been a particularly noisy adversary to UPMC, holding rallies and short-term strikes to press the Pittsburgh health care giant to raise wages and allow workers to unionize.

UPMC, which is the largest private employer in the state, is a big target for organized labor. After recent acquisitions, the health care giant has grown to 82,228 employees in Pennsylvania as of Dec. 31.

Attempts to decertify unions are relatively unusual. Of roughly 270 union elections approved by Pittsburgh's labor board office since 2010, only five elections were held to oust a union. The largest decertification occurred last year, when 131 workers at a New Kensington facility owned by UniFirst Corp., a distributor of workplace uniforms, voted out the United Steelworkers.

In that case, a decertification petition was filed in January 2013, setting off a series of close elections that were challenged before the labor board before the USW finally lost an appeal in May 2017. …

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