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10 Clergy Members Arrested During UPMC Protest

PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio1020 KDKA) - Today clergy members of the Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network held a protest against UPMC attempting to get fair wages for employees.

The protestors said they wanted to meet with the UPMC CEO Jeffrey Romoff to discuss unionizing their employees. When they were refused entrance to the building they blocked the doors, refusing to leave until they were heard.

Police were called in and 10 of the clergy members were arrested and removed in handcuffs, cited with trespassing.

Charlie Deitch, reporter with the Pittsburgh City Paper, has been covering the protests on UPMC for months and says today's protest had a different feel to it.

"Typically the protesters move to a different location or sort of move to the sidewalk and today you could just see, I mean there was tension I think and I've covered pretty much all of these over the past 18 months since the union organization efforts began and um there was just something beside the chill, there was definitely something different in the air today that it just felt different from the beginning," Deitch said.

Reverend John Welch was one of the protesters cited today and he says they didn't go into this looking for a problem.

"We weren't quite sure exactly how things would transpire. We had an inkling that they would not let us in the building, as cold as it was we were hoping they would but none the less they didn't. So we were prepared to adjust accordingly," Welch said.

Welch says what they want to accomplish is simple. They want to see UPMC offer employees a more friendly work environment free of intimidation and to be able to earn a honest living wage to afford premiums of their healthcare.

When asked if this was the end or simply the beginning Welch responded, "Full force. We will be in large numbers, larger than they anticipate. We will do what we have to for the betterment of these workers."

You can hear the whole interview below.

Here's the coding:

UPMC Protest

You can also listen to the KDKA Afternoon News with Bill Rehkopf weekdays 3-7pm

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