Pitt Faculty Looks Forward to Holding Election to Join USW

Contact: R.J. Hufnagel, 412-562-2450, rhufnagel@usw.org

Faculty members at the University of Pittsburgh are looking forward to holding a vote to become members of the United Steelworkers (USW) union after the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (PLRB) scheduled an election to take place from Aug. 27 through Oct. 12.

“It’s been a long road, but I am thankful that we will finally have the chance to make our voices heard,” said Tyler Bickford, an associate professor in the university’s English Department. “A vote for a union is a vote to create a better university. Gaining a voice will provide faculty members with greater job security, improve educational outcomes, promote better research and increase transparency across the university system. It’s a win-win.”

The decision to hold an election follows years of relentless anti-union efforts by the Pitt administration aimed at preventing such a vote from taking place.

Financial records show that the Pitt administration has paid more than $2.1 million since 2016 to Philadelphia “union avoidance” law firm Ballard Spahr for its help in an ongoing campaign to stop faculty members’ unionization efforts, as well as to prevent a concurrent effort by Pitt graduate student workers to join the USW.

“It’s unfortunate that an institution like Pitt can accept millions in tax dollars and then turn around and spend millions to silence its workers,” said Melinda Ciccocioppo, a lecturer in the psychology department. “As Pitt faculty members, we have wanted nothing more than what all higher education workers deserve – a voice in the decisions that affect our lives and those of our students.”

A PLRB hearing examiner ruled last summer that the university administration artificially inflated a list of its faculty employees in order to impede the faculty’s unionization campaign. This April, the examiner issued a follow-up decision on which faculty members would be included in the USW bargaining unit, bringing the total to about 3,000 faculty members.

“We look forward to making our voices heard loud and clear and then moving forward with the important work of making the University of Pittsburgh a better institution for faculty, students and our entire community,” Ciccocioppo said.

The USW represents 850,000 workers employed in metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply and the energy-producing industries, along with a growing number of workers in health care, public sector, higher education, tech and service occupations.

Press Inquiries

Media Contacts

Communications Director:
Jess Kamm at 412-562-2446

USW@WORK (USW magazine)
Editor R.J. Hufnagel

For industry specific inquiries,
Call USW Communications at 412-562-2442

Mailing Address

United Steelworkers
Communications Department
60 Blvd. of the Allies
Pittsburgh, PA 15222