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

Join our newsletter

Get Pitt and Oakland news in your inbox, three times a week.

Pitt track and field athlete inducted into Delaware Sports Museum & Hall of Fame
Pitt track and field athlete inducted into Delaware Sports Museum & Hall of Fame
By Grace McNally, Staff Writer • June 13, 2024
Opinion | Long-distance friendships are possible
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • June 6, 2024

Join our newsletter

Get Pitt and Oakland news in your inbox, three times a week.

Pitt track and field athlete inducted into Delaware Sports Museum & Hall of Fame
Pitt track and field athlete inducted into Delaware Sports Museum & Hall of Fame
By Grace McNally, Staff Writer • June 13, 2024
Opinion | Long-distance friendships are possible
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • June 6, 2024

Pitt Faculty Union votes to ratify first labor contract with university

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.

After more than two years of negotiations with the University and nearly a decade of organizing, the Pitt Faculty Union has ratified a contract that will significantly increase pay for part-time and visiting faculty

Faculty Union representative and organizer Melinda Ciccioppo said the voting process for the contract’s ratification, which concluded on May 10th, demonstrated an “overwhelmingly positive response” from the 3500 members of Pitt’s Faculty Union. 

“88.4% of our members voted, and of those 98.3% voted in favor of ratification,” Ciccioppo said. “We’re really happy about that.”

The United Steelworkers (USW), who have helped to facilitate the Union’s organization and negotiations, released a statement announcing the contract’s ratification. 

“Our members should be proud of all their hard work, perseverance and solidarity that paved the way for this historic win,” USW spokesperson Bernie Hall said in the press release. 

The Union, which was formed in the fall of 2021 and had its first bargaining session in March of 2022, has been in the midst of negotiations with the Pitt administration for over two years. On April 26th, the Union held a protest outside the Cathedral prior to their last bargaining session. 

According to Ciccioppo, Pitt’s administration worked with the Union on April 27 to reach a tentative agreement about the contract in response to the protest, although it took going back and forth with proposals all day. 

“At the end of the day, the administration was willing to move off of the strict language that they had, saying they would have unilateral control over our raises and whether or not we got those raises if there was a decline in enrollment, or in the state appropriation money,” Ciccioppo said. 

The final contract included pay raises for faculty across all of Pitt’s campuses, which Ciccioppo said was a primary goal for the Union’s first contract. 

“We were able to get a $60,000 floor for all full-time faculty with Professor titles,” Ciccioppo said, “and then for those without Professor titles, if they had a visiting prefix or an instructor title, and they don’t have a terminal degree, then they have a floor of $50,000.”

Additionally, the contract offers job security for part-time faculty and visiting lecturers. Previously, faculty without Professor titles would have to reapply for their position every semester. The contract will ensure that faculty can automatically retain their position as long as they are in good standing with the University. 

“[These are] substantial improvements, considering the fact that we currently have faculty who are making $25,000 a year. So some faculty are seeing as big an increase as over 100%,” Ciccioppo said. 

Tyler McAndrew, an adjunct professor with the English department and member of the Faculty Union, said that the new renewal process for non tenured faculty will have an “enormous” effect on faculty job security. 

“I think one of the biggest things that will have a direct impact on me and on other adjuncts that we want in this contract is there is now going to be presumptive renewal for adjunct instructors,” McAndrew said. “Just having that sort of security is enormous. It takes a lot of stress off.”

McAndrew, who has been a member of Pitt’s faculty since 2014, said that when he first started the English department, adjunct professors had to reapply for their position every semester, compiling class syllabi, OMET surveys and cover letters for their application.

“There was never really a very clear process in place,” McAndrew said.“It’s just so bizarre, like we have to apply for one job, and then maybe we get this other job that we already have.”

McAndrew also added that every semester, he would have to first apply for a visiting lecturer position before requesting an adjunct professor title. 

McAndrew, who has been a part of the Faculty Union organization effort since 2015 before the Union went public, said in recent years the English department has made the application process much easier for adjunct professors. However, the new contract will ensure a stress-free process across all Pitt departments. 

University spokesperson Chuck Finder released a statement expressing “sincere appreciation to both the union representatives and the administration whose hard work and dedication contributed to reaching this agreement.”

“We are very pleased that the faculty union has ratified our first collective bargaining agreement,” Finder said. “This historic agreement demonstrates the University of Pittsburgh’s commitment to our world-class faculty and their key role in supporting our students’ top-notch, accessible educational opportunities.”

According to the USW, the contract will run through June 30th, 2026. Ciccioppo said that in the meantime, the Union will focus on implementing the contract and ensuring that the University is complying with the contract’s demands.

“I am hopeful that this is not going to be acrimonious in any way,” Ciccioppo said. “If there are sort of situations in which the contract is not being followed, I think especially early on, a lot of it will be more just due to a lack of communication or misunderstanding or something like that, that we can resolve amicably.”

Ciccioppo added that the contract’s ratification will improve student experiences on Pitt’s campus.

“Increased pay and job security means that Pitt will be better able to attract and retain the very best faculty and students can more reliably count on their instructors being around in the future to teach other classes and write letters of recommendation,” Ciccioppo said. 

Ciccocioppo said the contract’s ratification bodes well for future negotiations between Pitt Unions and the University administration. 

“This contract is demonstrable evidence that we can win the things that we push for,” Ciccioppo said. “We’re increasing job security, particularly for non-tenure-stream faculty, and increasing pay for the lowest paid faculty.”

 

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].