The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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Pitt baseball players stand in the dugout during a game against Virginia Tech on March 24 at the Petersen Sports Complex.
Pitt baseball shows promise in weekend series in Texas
By Dylan Grace, Staff Writer • 12:32 am

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Pitt baseball players stand in the dugout during a game against Virginia Tech on March 24 at the Petersen Sports Complex.
Pitt baseball shows promise in weekend series in Texas
By Dylan Grace, Staff Writer • 12:32 am

Pitt Faculty Union assembles outside the Pete to advocate for higher salaries for part-time faculty

Union+supporters+pose+for+a+photo+outside+Petersen+Event+Center+Sunday+afternoon.+Left+to+right%3A+Sophie+Esswein%2C+Benoni+Outerbridge%2C+Steph+Bohanan%2C+Alex+Dragon%2C+Mary+Anne+Smith-Borneo.
Liam Sullivan | Staff Photographer
Union supporters pose for a photo outside Petersen Event Center Sunday afternoon. Left to right: Sophie Esswein, Benoni Outerbridge, Steph Bohanan, Alex Dragon, Mary Anne Smith-Borneo.

On Sunday morning, around 50 members of Pitt’s Faculty Union gathered outside the Petersen Events Center to advocate for a $60,000 salary floor for part-time faculty. The group handed out fliers to passersby and attendees of the women’s basketball game against NC State, which started at noon. 

Melinda Ciccocioppo, leader of the Faculty Union and professor in Pitt’s psychology department, emphasized the rally’s goal of “educat[ing] the public” about the condition of Pitt faculty wages.

“Currently, we have many Pitt faculty who are earning less than $60,000,” Ciccocioppo said. “These are all people with advanced degrees who have expertise in their fields, and we feel that $60,000 is a reasonable professional floor for faculty.”

The Pitt Faculty Union has been in the midst of a salary negotiation with the university administration since November, when the administration proposed a $60,000 salary floor for some faculty, excluding part-time and full-time faculty with “visiting” or “instructor” titles. 

According to the Pitt Faculty Union website, “for part-time faculty, the administration proposed a floor that would be the equivalent of an $18,000 annual salary for faculty at the regional campuses and $31,200 annual salary for faculty at the Oakland campus if they were to teach a full course load.”

University spokesperson Jared Stonesifer elaborated on the salary negotiations, asserting the administration’s goal of an agreement between themselves and the Union.

“The University and the union are currently engaged in collective bargaining negotiations where the parties are discussing the various components of faculty compensation,” Stonesifer said. “These discussions are ongoing and the administration looks forward to reaching an agreement with the union that is mutually beneficial for both parties.”

According to Ciccocioppo, $60,000 is the salary necessary for a household in the Pittsburgh area. 

She also said the Union wants to bring attention to the idea that low wages exacerbate the pay gap, especially for people who identify as women. A salary floor would help to shrink the gender wage gap at Pitt and help to retain current faculty. 

“In part, our message is a lot about gender equity,” Ciccopioppo said. “[The women’s basketball game] is about gender equity and helping women, and so [the Pete] seemed like the appropriate venue.”

School of Social Work faculty member Laura McCarthy said she was representing the Union at the rally because she herself teaches part-time. 

“All of our faculty should be paid a fair wage,” McCarthy said. “I just want everyone who’s coming to this game and reading this to be aware of how low our pay is.”

McCarthy said she is teaching one class this semester, but the hours of course prep, meeting with students and grading add up. 

McCarthy said a salary floor of $60,000 would be “tremendous” for herself and her family.

“It would help me save for retirement,” McCarthy said. “It would allow me to save money for my son’s college education. He’s going to school next year. Being a part-time person, I don’t get tuition benefits for my kids.”

McCarthy also said it is the salaries for part-time positions that are the hardest to negotiate, and oftentimes, women and minorities are overrepresented in these jobs. 

“People make the exact same wage.” McCarthy said, “but because we’re paid low across the board … it continues to perpetuate those disparities.”

Alex Dragon, a middle school science teacher at Pitt’s Falk Laboratory School, said a $60,000 salary would significantly affect himself and his colleagues. 

“We’re a small school. We do the things teachers everywhere do and do our best to go above and beyond for our students,” Dragon said. “We just make significantly less than Pittsburgh public schools.”

Dragon, who teaches about 90 students this semester, added that many of the Falk Laboratory School faculty have master’s degrees, and there are teachers with 10 and 20 years of experience making less than $60,000 per year. 

“We are full Pitt faculty members, and Pitt keeps trying to exclude us from that salary floor in our negotiations,” Dragon said. 

Ciccocioppo said although the Faculty Union is in the midst of negotiations with the administration, she still planned on cheering on the women’s basketball team after the rally. 

“We love being a part of the Pitt community,” Ciccocioppo said. “We want to stay here, but we also need salaries that are sustainable and provide us with the opportunity to stick around.” 

 

About the Contributor
Abby Lipold, Assistant News Editor
Abby Lipold is the Assistant News Editor for the News Desk. She is an English Nonfiction Writing major and is pursuing a BPhil in International and Area Studies. She has been writing for The Pitt News since January 2022. You can contact Abby at [email protected].