Hospital workers rally in Pittsburgh for minimum wage increases

PITTSBURGH — Union hospital workers part of several regional health systems united Tuesday for a rally for better pay.

As contract negotiations near, the workers are fighting for a $20 per hour minimum wage at Allegheny General, Allegheny Valley, Washington and Frick hospitals. The demanded pay increase is for nearly all staff members, including technicians, dietary workers, custodians and more. Doctors, nurses and technical workers are excluded.

Gina Johnson, a patient access coordinator for Allegheny General Hospital told Channel 11 that she currently does make more than $20 per hour, and yet still cannot afford healthcare costs.

“So actually I have to get subsidies. I can’t afford it,” she said.

Johnson and several other workers were joined by local leaders, including Congresswoman Summer Lee and Rep. Aerion Abney, as they made their case for better wages.

“We desperately need more staff. That’s the biggest issue that we have right now and in order to do that we need to increase pay,” said Armand Kassam, a Patient Care Tech at AGH.

Kassam told the crowd that it’s a strategy proven to work in the case of AGH nurses, who fought for and received higher wages via the union negotiations last year.

“As a result, we’re seeing more and more nurses apply and take jobs here, and far fewer nurses leave.”

Channel 11 reached out to each of the hospital systems involved.

A spokesperson for Frick, part of Independence Health, declined to comment.

A spokesperson for AHN sent Channel 11 the below statement:At AHN, we have long history of providing our team members at every level with highly competitive wages and benefits and a workplace experience that is conducive to professional growth, fulfillment, and the delivery of exceptional care to our patients. In the coming weeks for example, AHN will be the first healthcare provider in western PA to offer an $18 per hour minimum wage, and our market rates for professionals in roles across the spectrum of our organization continue to be among the most competitive in the region.

We are awaiting a response from Washington Hospital.

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