Justice & The Courts

COMMENTARY
Former U.S. President Donald Trump waves as he makes a visit to the Cuban restaurant Versailles after he appeared for his arraignment on June 13, 2023, in Miami. Trump pleaded not guilty to 37 federal charges including possession of national security documents after leaving office, obstruction, and making false statements. (Photo by Alon Skuy/Getty Images)

What was Trump’s motive for keeping those classified documents? | Fletcher McClellan

BY: - June 27, 2023

Here are four theories, ranging in intent from innocuous to devious.

COMMENTARY

The Hunter Biden hunt ends not with a bang, but a whimper | Dick Polman

BY: - June 26, 2023

Naturally, twice-indicted Donald Trump is very upset about this plea deal.

COMMENTARY
Drazen Zigic/Getty Images

Funding the 500: Equitably funded schools look different across Pa. They have one thing in common

BY: - June 20, 2023

Every day, we are confronted by the gap between what our students deserve and what our broken school funding system provides.

COMMENTARY
Flashing lights on a police car

You have the right to remain silent. You should exercise it | Michael Coard

BY: - June 15, 2023

The 'Miranda Warning,' a bedrock principle of law, turned 57 years old this week. Here's why you should still care about it.

(Photo by Source New Mexico)

Protections for pets in domestic violence, divorce cases pass Pa. House panel

BY: - June 14, 2023

“Frequently, when a protection from abuse order is issued, the animal becomes a target … ,” Rep. Christina Sappey said.

The Guardian, or Authority of Law, created by sculptor James Earle Fraser, rests on the side of the U.S. Supreme Court on September 28, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Al Drago/Getty Images).

Ruling in Alabama case could boost suits increasing Black voters’ power in other states

BY: - June 12, 2023

The ruling could give a boost to more than two dozen other ongoing efforts to challenge political maps as racial gerrymanders.

(Adobe Stock Images)

Pennsylvania AG seeks repayment for cleanup of ‘Forever Chemicals’ | Thursday Morning Coffee

BY: - June 8, 2023

The companies knew for decades about 'the dangers and damages,' of PFAS, Attorney General Michelle Henry said.

COMMENTARY

The U.S. Supreme Court is poised to dismantle a key part of the Great Society. Here’s how | Opinion

BY: - June 8, 2023

The high court is likely to strike down affirmative action for college admissions, undermining racial equality.

Pa. Supreme Court hears arguments on order halting greenhouse gas reduction program

BY: and - May 24, 2023

‘We know that the proceeds from the RGGI auction have the potential for further growth in a Pennsylvania clean energy economy,’ Katie Blume, of Conservation Voters PA said.

Pa. House votes on gun safety bills highlight Democrats’ ‘humble majority’

BY: and - May 22, 2023

‘There is no doubt in my mind that the shameful era of doing nothing is coming to an end,’ Rep Dan Frankel said.

Appeals court judges embrace anti-abortion speculation

BY: and - May 21, 2023

Mifepristone remains legal and on the market as the case winds its way through the legal system.

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 […]