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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — In the end, the vote to allow UPMC to build a vision and rehabilitation hospital adjacent to Mercy Hospital in Uptown was anti-climactic.
But the lead-up to the 7 to 2 vote was certainly contentious.
“Why would council members be willing to overlook the abysmal labor record of UPMC?” asked one citizen who spoke.
The region’s largest employer came under attack for low wages to its employees.
“We know that UPMC has done well taking care of their patients, but what about their employees?” added another. “When it comes to taking care of employees, it’s a whole different story.”
Some argued that the city should have negotiated a binding community benefits agreement or CBA to benefit the Hill and nearby neighborhoods.
“We do need a CBA. People in Pittsburgh are suffering,” said one gentleman.
City Councilman Daniel Lavelle, who represents the area, said UPMC did agree to a number of conditions, ticking off a few.
“They will assist in the recruitment and growth of African American nurses. They will work with the local council person to host events centered on specific procurement opportunities for business entities with emphasis on businesses in the Hill District Uptown communities and other underserved communities,” recited Lavelle.
But Councilwoman Darlene Harris questioned UPMC’s agreement, and said she was a no vote until there were more hearings on the matter.
“The reason I’m voting ‘no’ is that council just voted that we can’t have more time to hear what you the people of Pittsburgh are saying,” noted Harris.
Those in the chambers said they would remember this vote next year at the polls.
“People are going to remember this. We will definitely remember when you come up for election again,” warned one citizen.