In 2018, union nurses at UPMC McKeesport will begin negotiating a new three-year labor contract with the hospital.
But the Service Employees International Union that represents the nearly 200 nurses there faces a more immediate, existential challenge — one brought by some among its own ranks.
A group of union nurses is seeking to kick out the SEIU, which has represented employees at the hospital for decades. The nurses filed a petition in December with the National Labor Relations Board, asking for an election that would determine whether members still want to be part of the union.
The federal labor board, which requires at least 30 percent of all employees in a workplace to agree to an election, approved the petition and set the date for Jan. 30, according to labor board filings.
The attempt to decertify comes as the labor organization has been actively organizing health care workers at other workplaces across the region.
The SEIU has won 20 of 24 union elections in its push to organize hospital workers in Western Pennsylvania, according to a review of elections certified by the labor relations board office in Pittsburgh. In the summer of 2015, SEIU captured one of the biggest prizes of any union in this region when it organized about 1,400 service, technical and office employees at Allegheny General Hospital on the North Side.