Editorial: UPMC’s duplicitous behavior is immoral

By The Pitt News Editorial Board

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The mega health care system, UPMC, is in the news again, not for any reason that touts its health services, but rather, for one that advances the narrative that the company pays no regard to its employees.

Earlier this week, attorneys for UPMC continued their efforts to dismiss the city’s lawsuit against the company, challenging its tax-exempt charity status. They once again reiterated that UPMC is a parent company that oversees 44 subsidiaries. Shockingly enough, UPMC has continued to claim that it has no employees.

This statement comes in light of the suit the city of Pittsburgh has filed against UPMC, questioning its current tax-exempt status and mandating payment on payroll taxes. The city sued the health care giant to collect $20 million a year in payroll and property taxes, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Last month, UPMC initially asserted that it had no employees, citing its subsidiaries as the primary employers.

“The city of Pittsburgh has not, and cannot, identify a single person who is employed by or on the payroll of UPMC, the parent holding company,” said the health care conglomerate in its most recent filing.

Currently, the UPMC website touts that it is Pennsylvania’s largest employer, with more than 55,000 employees.

UPMC’s actions to declare nonprofit status, along with having zero employees, undermines the state’s largest health care provider, defining it with a sense of duplicity that is entirely immoral.

“UPMC’s public statements about its status as an employer are not mere shorthand for some other kind of relationship, but are reflective of a de facto employer-employee relationship between UPMC and every individual who works for the system,” the city argued in its complaint against the health care conglomerate.

As the city suggests, there is clear evidence that UPMC, as a parent company, previously presented itself as having employees: its IRS filings, 2012 annual report and website all include language indicating that the hospital system clearly considers itself as an employer to thousands.

Attorneys representing UPMC have noted that all employees receive tax documents and forms from the UPMC subsidiaries they are employed by, not from the parent company.

Yet, this seems to be irrelevant because UPMC chooses to be an employer only when it sees fit. While the company boasts of its employment, it denies even having an employee. UPMC cannot pick and choose, and deciding to claim that it doesn’t employ anyone is both embarrassing and contradictory. 

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