UPMC Mercy Hospital. (Photo by Jay Manning/ PublicSource)

UPMC Mercy expansion: How the ‘community benefits agreement’ between UPMC and the city came to be

Last spring, Louis Berry III was feeling mildly optimistic. As a labor activist and retired housekeeper with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center [UPMC], he felt for the first time in April 2018 that he and activists might be able to get some concessions from his former employer. In Berry’s mind, he said, the not-for-profit hospital chain and healthcare provider is a behemoth that pays some of its employees too little and causes others to go into medical debt. Last spring, Berry thought he had reason to be hopeful: UPMC needed city approval to build a state-of-the-art hospital in Pittsburgh’s Uptown neighborhood. Some activists weren’t opposed to the new facility but when the city’s Planning Commission made a recommendation that UPMC work on establishing a community benefits agreement [CBA] with the city, Berry and others saw it as an opportunity to demand and negotiate concessions.

Public defender Lisa Middleman announces campaign to challenge District Attorney Stephen Zappala

Lisa Gaye Middleman, an Allegheny County public defender, announced that she is launching her campaign for District Attorney today. Middleman, who is running as an independent, will face 20-year incumbent Stephen A. Zappala Jr. in the November 5 general election. Her campaign launch comes after another challenger, Turahn Jenkins, trailed Zappala by 20,357 votes in May’s Democratic primary election. Middleman estimates that she’ll need to gather nearly 4,000 signatures on her petition before Aug. 1 to appear on the November ballot but plans to collect well above that amount.

A tale of two fires: Allegheny County health officials change approach after second fire at U.S. Steel’s Clairton plant

After a Dec. 24 fire at U.S. Steel’s Clairton Coke Works, Allegheny County Health Department officials discussed internally how to respond. The department considered issuing an emergency order to require U.S. Steel to take steps to reduce its emissions, email records show. Officials went as far as drafting such an order, they said. But they didn’t issue it because the company was already voluntarily taking many of the steps the county believed would keep residents safe.

The Pittsburgh City-County building on Forbes Avenue. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

Pittsburgh, Allegheny County governments are on track to reach $15 minimum wage. Some ask: Is $15 enough?

In the City of Pittsburgh, 59 municipal employees — including refuse workers, school crossing guards and administrative clerks — earn below the $15-per-hour benchmark that labor advocates have been pushing for nationally.

In Allegheny County, 169 full-time government workers still need wage increases to hit that benchmark. They include food-service workers and housekeepers at Kane Community Living Centers, among others.