USW - United Steelworkers

04/19/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 04/20/2019 09:58

Pitt Faculty Organizers Blast Administration Anti-Union Tactics, Plan to Appeal PLRB Decision on Recognition Hearing

Apr 19, 2019

Contact: Jess Kamm Broomell, 412-562-2444,[email protected]

(Pittsburgh) - The Pitt Faculty Organizing Committee announced today that it believes the University of Pittsburgh administration deliberately inflated the number of university instructors in their potential bargaining unit in an attempt to avoid a union election.

As a result, the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (PLRB) has declined to conduct a hearing on the committee's election petition, contending that it did not find that the required percentage of the faculty members had signed authorization cards within the allotted time period. The committee plans to appeal

The organizing committee anticipated this problem because the university administration failed to disclose exactly who they put on the list of eligible faculty they gave the PLRB or whether they included job classes or schools excluded in the petitioned-for unit.

'So, for example, the university administration may have told the PLRB that part-time faculty members who have not taught for years and faculty of the medical school were to be included,' said Tyler Bickford, an associate professor in the English department.'We planned to address this at the hearing. Now we'll have to do it through the appeal process.'

'The administration doesn't want the faculty to hold a union vote,' said Paul Johnson, an assistant professor in the department of communication. 'This was evident when they hired high-priced union-busting lawyers, and it's evident in the way they've treated this information. Our whole campaign has been about the need for greater transparency, and this is just one more example of how essential it really is.'

The university hired infamous union-busting firm Ballard Spahr of Philadelphia to help it obstruct the unionization efforts of both the faculty and the graduate students. Creating confusion over who is eligible to be in a bargaining unit is a typical corporate tactic to avoid collective bargaining.

The graduate student employees are voting this week on whether to gain union representation and bargain collectively for better wages and working conditions. The two organizing campaigns, one for the faculty members and one for the graduate student employees, are completely separate.

The Pitt Faculty Organizing Committee began collecting cards from instructors in January 2018 and this January submitted cards to the PLRB petitioning for an election.

The Academic Workers Association is part of the USW, which represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in many industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil, the service and public sectors and higher education.