Both campus union campaigns in limbo


Both the Pitt graduate student union and the faculty union campaigns are not stepping down after running into a few recent speed bumps.

A representative from the United Steelworkers, which represents both campaigns, said the USW will submit an objection today to the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board on behalf of the graduate student campaign.

The votes counted on April 26 came down to 675 for the union, 712 against and 153 challenged votes. The PLRB ultimately decided that this vote was inconclusive.

Despite the count, the graduate student union declared “the fight isn’t over” in a statement on Twitter.

In an April 26 news release, the USW accused the University of intimidation, “illegal interference” and deliberately spreading misinformation throughout the voting process.

University spokesman Joe Miksch pushed back on these accusations in an emailed statement.

“Throughout the process we have worked with students to answer questions, share facts and encourage all to vote — regardless of their choice,” Miksch said. “The Steelworkers’ claim that the University engaged in intimidation and knowingly spread misinformation is false. We remain dedicated to supporting all students and their success.”

This comes after Union of Pitt Faculty representatives filed a six-page appeal, also called exceptions, to the PLRB on April 25.

The PLRB decided last month to deny the union a hearing, claiming its petition didn’t meet its bargaining unit vote count requirements.

The USW has repeatedly claimed that Pitt “inflated” the numbers of the institution’s proposed bargaining unit, which prompted the PLRB’s decision.

University representatives have previously denied these accusations, calling them “baseless” and “false,” and claimed they were working with a “similar number” to the USW’s proposed bargaining unit of 3,500.

These USW’s allegations were further outlined in the objection.

“Based on the showing of interest provided by the union, the employer needed to have provided a list that was much larger than 3,500 for the 30 percent threshold not to have been met,” the document read. “As such, the logical conclusion is that the employer packed the list with the names of individuals who do not properly belong in the petitioned-for bargaining unit.”

The union is calling for the list Pitt administrators submitted to the PLRB to compare proposed bargaining units, and a hearing to debate the proposed bargaining units.

Pitt has not released the exact number of faculty in its proposed bargaining unit and USW representatives haven’t released the exact number of cards they collected. However, they’ve argued that they submitted an amount with a “cushion” of votes.

It’s not yet clear what will happen next for these two campaigns, as they are both waiting for responses from the PLRB. There’s no specific time frame for the PLRB to respond.

Donovan Harrell is a writer for the University Times. Reach him at or 412-383-9905.