After more than 14 months of negotiations with Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania, UE Local 696 held a rally at Pittsburgh’s City-County Building last night to demand a fair first contract.
“We have petitioned, and made our demands of our employer clear and unanimous, however, our employer’s response to our demands has been the bare minimum,” Crystal Gabrowski, a member of the union negotiating committee, told the more than 150 people who showed up to support Local 696. “We are living in a regional and national healthcare crisis. We, the workers, and our patients, need much more than the bare minimum.”
Local 696 members report that an increase in out-of-state patients since the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade was announced on June 24 has led to a doubling of workloads. Both Grabowski and her co-worker Elizabeth Villanueva described how on the day of the decision, they were flooded with desperate calls from states where abortion bans went into effect immediately following the decision — yet were woefully understaffed, with initially just a single worker answering the phones.
Villanueva pointed out that “The staffing crisis we face … was not unavoidable. With better wages and working conditions we would have been able to recruit and retain staff that we needed to safely and effectively do our job.”