A couple of hours ago the SEIU lawyer walked the signed settlement papers into the NLRB offices here in Pittsburgh, PA. Read on below to see just how complete this victory is! (For the uninitiated, I'm referring to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center - anyone living in the Western Pennsylvania area knows this)
I have recently finished a conference call with SEIU organizers, and a bunch of members of the UPMC organizing committee. We have brought UPMC to the bargaining table with the NLRB complaint that outlined 80 distinct violations of our rights as citizens to organize and form a union, naming over 30 managers and security guards. I suspected something was in the works when I received a letter from the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) Saturday, letting me know the hearing I was subpoenaed for on this past Tuesday, was cancelled. Last night I learned that the settlement talks had yet to produce a settlement and the hearing was rescheduled for February 19. Looks like I don't have to worry about that, now, either!
What we got in the settlement includes :
- The two illegally fired employees are to be reinstated with 80% back pay.
- The six illegally disciplined workers will have the discipline expunged from their record, and receive back pay for work missed due to the discipline.
- All managers and security guards will receive training regarding our rights to organize while at work.
- The specific rights of the employees to organize will be publicly posted at the UPMC hospitals.
- All illegal solicitation and social media policies are immediately rescinded and will have to be revised to respect our First Amendment free speech rights.
- Any future violations of the settlement will be sent directly to the NLRB judge for immediate remediation.
What UPMC got in this deal - not having to admit to breaking any laws in their actions against the workers.
I'm practically in tears as I finish typing this short update. This is history being made before my very eyes. This will be a textbook case of how to organize, from the ground up, the entire community from labor, religious and political groups and show a titan of the region that the power can be wrested from their grasp. Last night at the Steelworkers Building downtown, I got to hear an organizer who worked in Youngstown 60 years ago tell us that "power yields nothing without a struggle, and that we can keep what we can hold." This fight isn't over yet, there is plenty of work left to do. But this is a huge victory, for UPMC first called us liars, but when we were believed, then tried to claim they had no employees, but were merely a holding company. The NLRB decided in about one hour that UPMC was lying about that, which according to Jack Shay last night, is like them moving at light speed. I'll be happy to revise this diary with links later, or even post separate diaries to add some links to some reporting done in local papers. But I've got to get some dinner fixed right now... the Macbook is always up, I'll check back periodically :)