Author

Kim Lyons

Kim Lyons

Kim Lyons is a veteran western Pennsylvania journalist who has covered people and trends in politics and business for local and national publications. Follow her on Threads @social_kimly

Pittsburgh synagogue shooter found guilty on dozens of charges

By: - June 16, 2023

The jury also found the accused gunman guilty on 11 counts of a hate crime act resulting in death.

Pittsburgh Regional Transit gets $150M grant for bus rapid transit project

By: - June 14, 2023

'The people in our neighborhoods are the greatest winners,' Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey said.

U.S. Rep. Summer lee, D-12th District, on the floor of the U.S. House (Screen Capture).

Pa. U.S. Rep. Summer Lee hits GOP over vote to repeal stabilizing braces for pistols

By: - June 14, 2023

U.S. Rep. Summer Lee, D-12th District, criticized House Republicans during debate on a bill to repeal a restriction on pistols that makes them easier to shoot.

Pa. Rep. Deluzio celebrates budget protections for veterans’ healthcare

By: - June 13, 2023

'We veterans also know and keep a watchful eye on those who utilize us as bargaining chips,' veteran Craig Romanovich said.

Pa. Rep. Summer Lee introduces hazard pay bill for healthcare workers

By: - May 25, 2023

'Every time disaster strikes, our health care workers show up for us. It’s time we show up for them,' the W.Pa. Democrat said.

Allegheny Co. DA Zappala nabs enough write-in votes to appear on GOP ballot in the fall

By: - May 23, 2023

If he accepts the nomination, Zappala would face Democratic nominee Matt Dugan in a rematch of the primary.

In W. Pa., a progressive wave washed away the competition. How they did it and what it means

By: - May 21, 2023

If government doesn't reflect the people, 'it’s our duty to change that,' Democratic Allegheny Co. Executive nominee Sara Innamorato said.

Allegheny County Chief Public Defender Matt Dugan

‘Halftime?’ Allegheny Co. Dem DA nominee Dugan may face Zappala again in November

By: - May 19, 2023

Thanks to a last-minute push, the vanquished incumbent prosecutor may show up on the Republican ballot.

A coalition of labor unions has filed an antitrust complaint against UPMC, asking the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate whether the hospital system has used its “monopsony” power to suppress healthcare workers’ wages in the region, and limit their options to seek employment elsewhere. The complaint filed Thursday by SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania and the Strategic Organizing Center, states that UPMC has an “ongoing pattern of acquisitions and elimination of capacity in hospital and labor markets.” The healthcare giant, which is the largest private employer in Pennsylvania, has been able to “suppress workers’ wages and benefits, drastically increase their workloads, and prevent workers from exiting or improving these working conditions through a draconian system of mobility restrictions and widespread labor law violations that lock in sub-competitive pay and working conditions,” according to the 55-page filing. “If, as we believe, UPMC is insulated from competitive market pressures, it will be able to keep workers’ wages and benefits—and patient quality—below competitive levels, while at the same time continually imposing further restraints and abuses on workers to maintain its market dominance,” the complaint states. “Because we believe this conduct is contrary to Section 2 of the Sherman Act, we respectfully urge the Department of Justice to investigate UPMC and take action to halt this conduct.” Matt Yarnell, president of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, said during a conference call with reporters on Thursday that the complaint was groundbreaking “because no one has ever filed a complaint saying that these mobility restrictions and labor law violations are anti-competitive conduct that violate [sic] federal antitrust law.” Antitrust cases typically focus on whether a seller is big enough to have monopoly power that allows it to raise prices, for instance, if it has no competitors. In monopsony cases, a company often controls buying in a given marketplace, including in a region where it controls a large portion of jobs. UPMC, the complaint states, has some 92,000 workers. “Traditionally, workers have two ways to compete for jobs in labor markets,” Yarnell said. “They can leave their current job and look for a better job or they can stay in their current job and try to obtain better working conditions.” But UPMC has cut off these avenues of competition, he added, using non-compete agreements and “do-not-rehire” practices, and preventing employees from forming unions, he added. The complaint also states that the worker-to-patient ratios at UPMC facilities have fallen to levels that can affect patient care. “As of 2020, UPMC ratios are on average 19% lower than the average non-UPMC staffing ratios,” according to the complaint. Jodi Faltin, a nurse at UPMC, said during the conference call that staffing shortages were a constant concern, and that workers often did not speak out for fear of losing their jobs, and fear of being unable to find a new job in the field. “When three-fourths of the hospital jobs in Pittsburgh are with UPMC, your options are limited,” Faltin said. And I didn't become a nurse to maximize UPMC’s profit. I'm not concerned about expanding the Empire or increasing executive bonuses. I care about my co-workers earning a living wage, having affordable health care and being supported to provide safe and compassionate care.” In an emailed statement from Paul Wood, chief communications officer at UPMC, the hospital system refuted the arguments in the complaint. Nursing care at UPMC “is based on [patients’] acuity and needs, not staffing ratios, enabling us to staff with flexibility, deploying our nurses to best meet patients’ needs,” the statement reads. And there is no policy prohibiting an employee who leaves UPMC from being hired at another UPMC facility, according to the statement. “UPMC’s average wage is more than $78,000,” the statement reads. “There are no other employers of size and scope in the regions UPMC serves that provide good paying jobs at every level and an average wage of this magnitude.” U.S. Rep. Summer Lee, D-12th District, said on the call that the healthcare system was “abusing its power to exploit its workers and patients on the backs of taxpayers.” “My hometown Braddock lost our only hospital and largest employer back in 2010 for the same reason McKeesport is closing their ICU this year,” Lee continued. “It’s the same reason Western PA is facing a hospital staffing crisis that’s putting our loved ones’ lives at risk--and the same reason our nurses and health aides, who are paid so little that they’re in medical debt to the hospital they work for, face retaliation for speaking out for their patients being ripped off by skyhigh health care costs and declining quality of care.”

Pittsburgh unions file antitrust complaint against UPMC

By: - May 18, 2023

PITTSBURGH — A coalition of labor unions has filed an antitrust complaint against UPMC, asking the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate whether the hospital system has used its “monopsony” power to suppress healthcare workers’ wages in the region, and limit their options to seek employment elsewhere.  The complaint filed Thursday by SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania […]

Sara Innamorato wins Dem nod for Allegheny Co. exec; Dugan prevails in DA’s race

By: - May 16, 2023

Progressives come up big on a big night in local politics.

Allegheny County campaigns raise big bucks as the races come down to the wire

By: - May 11, 2023

Voters will cast ballots in high-profile races for county executive, county council, and district attorney.

As Pgh synagogue shooter trial begins, there’s new hope for changes to Pa.’s gun, hate crimes laws

By: - April 23, 2023

'We feel more momentum now for life-saving gun violence prevention policy change than we've felt in years,' Josh Fleitman, of CeaseFirePa, said