Pittsburghers for Public Transit Strongly Supports City’s Challenge of UPMC’s Charity Status

Pittsburghers for Public Transit continues to call for the equitable distribution of public transit costs with corporations paying their fair share. UPMC has long acted far more like a corporation than a charitable organization, failing to meet the criteria for their tax-exempt status by placing their own bottom line profits above the needs of their community, their workers and their patients.

As PPT member Molly Nichols of Bloomfield has publicly testified, “UPMC is one of the largest employers and landowners in the region…It is heavily dependent on public services like transit; nearly 5% of all Port Authority rides are to medical appointments… UPMC needs to start living up to its tax-free status by contributing to the community… They insist that “at the heart of all we do is you,” but when the service cuts were proposed last year, UPMC told its workers to ride a bike or take a cab to work. Cab and limousine service may be feasible for Jeffrey Romoff and his 6 million dollar salary but not for most residents of our county.”

With 55,000 employees, UPMC is the biggest private employer in Pennsylvania, yet many UPMC workers depend on public assistance to survive because they are not paid living wages. UPMC is the largest real-estate owner in Allegheny County and made $1billion in profit in the last two years, with $3.9 billion in reserve funds according to their own first fiscal report for 2013. Yet UPMC has spent hundreds of thousands of advertising dollars to represent itself as a charity to avoid paying real estate or payroll taxes.

UPMC is profiting off of our needs while violating the labor rights of its employees and failing to contribute their fair share towards public infrastructure like transit. If UPMC is going to remain a charity, then this has to change. We need UPMC to step up and give back more to our community. We call on our elected officials to stand strong and hold UPMC accountable. PPT calls on whoever is elected to lead our City as the next Mayor to continue the lawsuit and make sure this challenge is resolved successfully.