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Mayor Meets With UPMC CEO, Talk Pay Increases, Highmark Dispute

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- It was a meeting set weeks ago, but Wednesday's discussion between Mayor Bill Peduto and UPMC's CEO Jeffrey Romoff took on greater significance in the wake of demonstrations that shut down part of Grant Street this week.

The two met for two hours in the U.S. Steel Building downtown.

UPMC employees and their supporters want pay increases and Mayor Peduto agrees.

"No employee of UPMC should live in poverty or have a need for public assistance," said Mayor Peduto.

UPMC says it already pays well above the minimum wage at $11 an hour; and, moreover, will not negotiate wage increases with unions that don't legally represent the workers.

Second, Mayor Peduto says he wants to resolve the Highmark dispute.

"All residents should have access to UPMC hospitals," Mayor Peduto said. "This comes with the ability to call yourself a purely public charity."

UPMC says that issue is closed -- beginning next year, those who want to use UPMC facilities at the lowest prices must choose an insurer other than Highmark.

Third, says the mayor, UPMC must pay its fair share in lieu of taxes.

"Without the ability to have a fair share from our major non-profits, the City of Pittsburgh will continue to struggle," he said.

Of course, that's an issue that must address other non-profits like the universities who get city services but don't pay taxes on their property.

Mayor Peduto say he and Romoff had a "positive discussion," and "the tone of the meeting was good."

"This was an opportunity to break the ice, but obviously, after two hours you go much further than breaking the ice," he said. "We've agreed to continue to have meetings and discussions on all three issues. There were many areas that we agreed on and some areas where we disagreed, but that doesn't stop us from trying to move forward on all three issues. It's understandable that there will be philosophical differences, but at least there was a respect on both sides to hear and to listen, and that was really what we were looking to take away today."

Mayor Peduto says he hopes the next meeting will happen in about four to six weeks.

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