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January 25, 2018

Faculty Union Organizers, Supporters Take First Step in Campaign

More than 50 people — including Pitt faculty members and organizers from the United Steelworkers — met in the William Pitt Union Ballroom on Jan. 22 to kick off a campaign aimed at unionizing the University’s 4,000-plus full- and part-time faculty.

As a first step in the campaign to organize, those in favor of the union were asked to sign authorization cards requesting the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board hold an election among eligible faculty. The election will be triggered if 30 percent or more of faculty members sign cards.

Such a union would install collective bargaining between faculty and the administration concerning salary and benefits and would press for changes in the rules that govern hiring and promotion, among other issues.

A 1996 attempt to unionize Pitt faculty was suspended after United Faculty organizers failed to collect union authorization cards from a majority of Pitt faculty. Other faculty unionization efforts were unsuccessful in 1991 and 1976.

Several Pitt faculty members spoke at the campaign kickoff, alongside supporters from the Graduate Student Organizing Committee, which is simultaneously attempting to unionize graduate students, and an undergraduate student group, Pitt Progressives YDSA.

Said Paul Johnson, faculty member in the Department of Communication and a lead organizer of the faculty campaign: “The University does not exist without students who pay their tuition and expect their teachers to be well-compensated, competent, and to know well in advance of each semester which classes they will be teaching.”

The University did not comment on the event.


Marty Levine,, 412-758-4859


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