Pitt ordered to submit list of faculty eligible to vote on union

Correction: An earlier version of this story said the faculty from the School of Medicine are included in the original proposed bargaining unit. It has been updated to reflect that faculty in the school of medicine may join their own group and vote separately.


The Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board has ordered the University of Pittsburgh to submit a list of employees eligible to vote in a faculty union election, boosting the unionization effort.

The order, issued on April 16, gives Pitt 20 days to submit the list of roughly 3,000 employees to the PLRB.

This order comes after a multi-year legal dispute between the University and the United Steelworkers, the legal representatives for Pitt’s faculty unionization effort, over the size of the proposed bargaining unit.

The order defines the job positions at Pitt that can participate in a union election vote. Faculty in the School of Medicine can form their own unit and vote separately whenever they choose to. The proposed bargaining unit outlined in the order excludes Pitt employees in supervisory or managerial positions, including department and division chairs, deans and provosts.

Union representatives have repeatedly accused Pitt of using certain delay tactics to stretch out the legal process, such as “padding” the list of potential employees in the proposed bargaining with employees who are ineligible to vote.

“It’s time for the Pitt administration to stop fighting its own workers and allow the democratic process to move forward,” Melinda Ciccocioppo, a lecturer in the Psychology department, said in a USW news release.

A University spokesman said in a statement that the unionization decision ultimately falls on faculty.

“The University has always been clear that unionization is a faculty decision. We look forward to working with the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board and the Steelworkers to determine next steps,” the statement said.

In February, union representatives criticized the University for having paid the Philadelphia-based law firm Ballard Spahr $2.1 million since 2016, around the time the faculty unionization movement picked up. The University paid $900,000 in fiscal year 2020 and has said it consults the law firm for multiple legal issues beyond unionization.

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


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