Several labor unions have filed an antitrust complaint against UPMC, alleging that the organization has used its size to exert undue influence over local labor markets in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. They have requested an investigation by the Department of Justice.
The complaint was submitted by SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania and the Strategic Organizing Center, a coalition composed of three major unions, including the wider Service Employees International Union.
The complaint cites UPMC’s consistent acquisition and reduction of hospital and labor capacity, as well as other measures to impede competitors from establishing a presence in specific Pennsylvania hospital markets.
The system has been accused of using its market position as the sole buyer of healthcare labor to lower wages and benefits, increase workloads, and restrict employees from seeking employment elsewhere.
“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 unions wrote in the complaint. “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.”
Pittsburgh-based nonprofit UPMC has grown from 12 hospitals to 40 within the past decade. It is the state’s largest nongovernmental employer with 92,000 workers.