Councilman Lavelle Expresses Support of City's Legal Appeal to UPMC's Charitable Status
Today, I stood with leaders in the City, County, and the community in support of the Mayor’s announcement to legally challenge UPMC’s status as a non-profit public charity. As concern over UPMC’s business practices grows, the legal challenge is intended to ensure that UPMC is not taking advantage of tax exemptions given to charities that make Pittsburgh stronger and healthier.
Despite nearly one billion in profits over two years, UPMC pays many of its employees so little that they are forced to depend on public assistance to pay for basics like food and rent. And when UPMC workers speak out about improving their jobs, UPMC management tries to silence them. That’s not good for UPMC workers, and it’s not good for Pittsburgh’s middle class.
As a City Councilman, my number one concern is to make sure that people who work hard all day earn enough to feed their families. We need our City’s largest employer to do its part. Right now, UPMC is third in our state after WalMart and McDonald’s in terms of the number of full time employees who need public assistance for their own healthcare. If UPMC wants to get the benefits of being a charity then they should support workers’ efforts to adequately provide for their families and strengthen Pittsburgh’s economy. Until then, the City is right to make sure UPMC isn’t gaming the system while working families foot the bill.
Currently, UPMC receives $20 million in property and payroll tax exemptions given to them as a result of their non-profit status. In standing together with the Mayor and County Controller Chelsa Wagner, City Controller Michael Lamb, State Senator Jim Ferlo, Council President Darlene Harris, Councilwoman Smith and Councilman Corey O’Connor, our message to UPMC to change their business practices to reflect more charitable ends was made clear. As it stands, their actions are not deserving of a true non-profit, and consequently, as an institution, UPMC is not deserving of the exemptions given to charitable organizations.