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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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New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa (5) shoots over Philadelphia 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr., rear, in red, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New York on Sunday, March 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)
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New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa (5) shoots over Philadelphia 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr., rear, in red, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New York on Sunday, March 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)
Column | Former Villanova fanatic watches “Nova Knicks” take down Sixers in NBA Playoffs
By Aidan Kasner, Sports Editor • May 23, 2024
Opinion | Do not arrest peaceful protesters
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • May 23, 2024

Pitt faculty union reaches agreement with university administration 

Protestors+hold+signs+in+support+of+faculty+unionization+during+a+rally+outside+the+chancellors+office+on+Tuesday+afternoon.+
Bhaskar Chakrabarti | Staff Photographer
Protestors hold signs in support of faculty unionization during a rally outside the chancellor’s office on Tuesday afternoon.

Around 80 protestors from the Pitt Faculty Union and United Steelworkers gathered outside of the Cathedral of Learning on Tuesday to deliver a letter to Chancellor Joan Gabel with their demands. As of Wednesday, the University has reached an agreement with the union on their labor contract after three years of negotiations. 

Pitt faculty union voted to organize with the United Steelworkers in the fall of 2021 and represents more than 3,000 members of Pitt’s faculty. Since then, the union has advocated for wage floors for part-time and visiting faculty, as well as protections on work hours and better job security.

On Wednesday, the United Steelworkers Union announced that a “tentative agreement on a contract between the University of Pittsburgh faculty and the university’s administration” had been reached. 

Faculty union spokesperson and associate professor with the psychology department Melinda Ciccocioppo said the Union’s goal for the Tuesday protest was to make the administration aware of their frustrations with the drafted contract prior to going into the bargaining meeting on Wednesday. 

“We are inches away from getting a tentative agreement with the administration that we can then bring to our members to vote on to ratify our contract,” Ciccocioppo said on Tuesday. “They are holding everything up because they want to have a clause in there that says that if enrollment declines or if the state appropriation money declines by just 5% they don’t have to give us the raises that we’ve negotiated as part of our contract.”

The letter, which was delivered to Chancellor Gabel’s office during the protest, stated that the proposed budget cuts would save the University less than one percent of their annual budget if their funding does decline by 5%. It expressed the Union’s desire to continue negotiations until Pitt’s faculty is assured a fair labor contract. 

“The only thing keeping us from an agreement is your insistence that you retain unilateral authority to cancel our raises if the Commonwealth appropriation or enrollments decline by small amounts,” the letter said. “We cannot agree to cuts that would eliminate key parts of this agreement.”

Tyler Bickford, a professor in the English department and member of the Bargaining committee who personally delivered the letter, made a speech during the protest.

“No union would accept this contract,” Bickford said. “There isn’t another contract in the institution that has terms like this. There isn’t another contract in the Steel Workers with these terms.”

After the agreement was announced on Wednesday, Ciccocioppo described it as a “clear win” for the faculty.  

“This contract provides greater security for faculty, which will result in better educational outcomes for students,” Ciccocioppo said.

United Steelworkers said in a Wednesday press release that the faculty union’s next steps will be to review the details of agreement, then call for a vote to ratify the contract. 

“We remained united through negotiations, and our perseverance paid off with a strong contract that will help us now and provide a firm foundation on which we can grow in the future,” Bickford said. 

 

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].