By Royce Jones

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — UPMC workers preparing to strike over pay and working conditions are now being backed by a major voice in the city.

Pittsburgh Mayor-elect Ed Gainey tweeted his support on Thursday for the workers, vowing to be a voice for them.

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According to a worker KDKA’s Royce Jones spoke with, a group of them have already had a Zoom meeting with Gainey. They believe he will be more confrontational with UPMC.

“He does seem like he wants to at least put forward that UPMC should value its workers,” said Zarah Livingston, a PCT with UPMC.

Gainey said over the next week, he will be uplifting the voices of these workers who continued to show up during the pandemic. He stressed they deserve livable wages, affordable health care, paid leave and the right to unionize without interference.

“Frequently, there are only a few PCTs per any given shift,” Livingston said. “A lot of times at night there’s only two or one and sometimes they’re not even people from our floor, they’re supplemental.”

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Livingston said there are many days when she and her co-workers are caring for as many as 26 patients each. And the mental health burden can be unbearable.

“You’re talking to your coworker like how are we even going this today?” Livingston said.

The UPMC worker said there are at least 200 other workers in the same position. Some rallied in downtown Pittsburgh about a week ago to call attention to these issues.

The workers have another rally planned for next Thursday, when they plan to walk off the job unless UPMC meets their demands.

She added that hospital leaders have been attempting to address the ratio issues on her floor since the workers started pushing back, but she feels these actions are too little too late.

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UPMC has not yet publicly addressed the possible strike.