THE BLOG

Starving for Higher Wages: UPMC Workers Fast for a Week (VIDEO)

05/02/2014 04:47 pm ET | Updated Jul 02, 2014

It's Holy Week 2014, and Chaney Lewis is camping in a tent outside a skyscraper. Pittsburgh means snow in April, so he's wearing two hoodies and a blanket. Visitors -- college kids, ministers, fast food employees, and elected officials -- peek in his tent, huddling awkwardly near the heaters and issuing words of admiration. Some ask if the April 2 New York Times coverage has helped the situation.

"We're still waiting," he says.

By the time I interview Chaney for our video "The Faster," a documentary short, it's been six days since he's last eaten.

"Workers are willing to take a stand," he says. "Extreme measures."

Since 2012 a battle has been raging between UPMC hospital workers like Chaney and CEO Jeffrey Romoff, who makes $6 million a year. Chaney has worked at UPMC for over nine years but still only makes $11.97 an hour. Consider this added offense: UPMC enjoys the status of "charitable nonprofit."

Watch Chaney brave a week-long fast for social justice in "The Faster":

Check out this petition to help Chaney and his coworkers achieve higher wages and unionization. And a new infographic by the Make It Our UPMC campaign is pictured below, demonstrating an argument for boosting the base wage to $15 an hour.