UPMC – Don’t Cancel Martin Luther King Jr. Day

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Andrea Weaver
Andrea Weaver signed this petition

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), Pennsylvania’s largest private sector employer, just told workers that it plans to cancel the MLK holiday for all 87,000 of its employees.

That’s right. A $20 billion global health enterprise that pays its CEO more than $7 million a year thinks it’s OK to cancel a sacred day of rest for frontline workers and the Black community.

As we know, Dr. King died while standing with Memphis sanitation workers who were striking to win their union. They wanted decent pay, more time with their families, and to be treated with dignity and respect. King died fighting to honor and reward the work of Black Americans, and workers across our country fought to force states and employers to recognize the holiday as a celebration of his purpose and legacy..

Today, workers use MLK Day to rest, or to do service, or to enjoy time with friends and family. Employees who are required to work on the holiday get holiday pay – time and a half – much as they would for working on Christmas or Thanksgiving. By stripping workers of the MLK Day, UPMC not only insults King’s memory and our community, but it actually takes money out of the pockets of hourly employees.

UPMC has the audacity to try to sell this change as a commitment to inclusion, diversity and service. While UPMC will no longer honor MLK Day, it will allow workers to schedule some other day for community service – provided their supervisor approves the time off.

What’s the difference? Many workers will simply lose a paid day off. Those who work MLK day will lose the holiday pay they need to schedule childcare when schools and day care facilities are closed. And no one will be able to count on celebrating or doing service with their loved ones, all together, as we do on the Fourth of July and other national holidays that aren’t about Black Americans.

Dr. King, who fought lessen our exploitation and  to expand our freedom, would know exactly what to say to an employer who wants people to work more for less. Who wants stricter control over people’s time. Who devalues the bonds of friendship and family. It’s because of employers like UPMC that Dr. King was called to fight.

As our state’s largest employer, UPMC sets the tone for all other businesses. UPMC should NOT be eliminating MLK day for its 87,000 employees or setting this example for others.

Will you stand with UPMC workers and tell its Diversity and Inclusion Officer to protect this important national holiday?