The Pitt News

Analysis: Comparing Pitt’s current Ballard Spahr spending with pre-unionization

Pitt’s annual payments to the legal firm Ballard Spahr began to increase in 2016, coinciding with the launch of the graduate and faculty union campaigns.

By Neena Hagen, Senior Staff Writer

January 22, 2020

Since the graduate and faculty union campaigns launched in 2016, Pitt has paid more than $1.3 million to “union avoidance” legal giant Ballard Spahr — an average of $328,000 per year.

Pitt’s bill for ‘union avoidance’ law firm passes $1 million

Pitt’s Office of University Counsel paid Philadelphia-based Ballard Spahr, a “union avoidance” law firm, $1,071,573 in fees between July 1, 2018, and June 30, 2019, to provide legal support during the separate graduate student and faculty campaigns for unionization.

By Jon Moss, News Editor

January 12, 2020

A “union avoidance” law firm continues to receive a large windfall of legal fees from Pitt, recently passing $1 million, according to University financial disclosure reports.

Grad union organizers hold demonstration on sky bridge

Grad union organizers hold signs against the windows of the Forbes Avenue sky bridge on Wednesday afternoon.

By Benjamin Nigrosh, Staff Writer

December 4, 2019

Grad union organizers pressed paper letters against the windows of the Forbes Avenue sky bridge Wednesday afternoon.

Editorial: NLRB unionization proposal is a step backwards

By The Pitt News Editorial Board

September 23, 2019

This new proposal is a bleak reminder of just how difficult unionization really is, and just how far we still have to go.

Labor official: Pitt website, department chair email involved in unfair practices

The Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board filed a decision Wednesday ordering a new election for Pitt’s graduate student union.

By Emily Wolfe, News Editor

September 19, 2019

Unless the board files an exception to Helmerich’s ruling — it has 20 days to do so, in accordance with PLRB regulations — graduate students will soon vote again on the union question.

PLRB rules Pitt committed unfair labor practices, orders new grad union election

The Pennsylvania Labor Review Board has determined that the University engaged in unfair labor practices during the grad student union election last spring.

By Janine Faust, Editor-in-chief

September 18, 2019

Hearing Examiner Stephen Helmerich said in his hearing that Pitt committed “coercive acts” leading up to the vote in April about whether or not graduate students should join the Academic Workers Association of the United Steelworkers, where the outcome was 675 for a union and 712 against.

Student organizers confident as unionization decision nears

The Pennsylvania Labor Review Board has determined that the University engaged in unfair labor practices during the grad student union election last spring.

By Erica Guthrie, Assistant News Editor

August 26, 2019

Pitt and the graduate student organizers trying to establish a union at the University took their final legal step last week before the state labor board determines whether or not the University engaged in unfair labor practices during the elections held last spring.

Pitt paid almost $240K to “union avoidance” law firm in recent years

Philadelphia-based firm Ballard Spahr provided legal support during the graduate student and faculty movements for unionization.

By Jon Moss, News Editor

May 14, 2019

A “union avoidance” law firm received a large windfall of legal fees from Pitt, according to previously unreported University financial disclosure reports.

Grad students vote against unionization, organizers reissue call for new election

The Pitt graduate student union election results were announced on April 26.

By Jon Moss and Neena Hagen

May 3, 2019

The Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board officially declared Friday morning that the majority of graduate students at Pitt voted against unionization in the April 15-18 election.

Grad union organizers call for new election, accuse Pitt of “unfair labor practices”

The Pitt graduate student union election results were announced on April 26.

By Neena Hagen, Senior Staff Writer

May 2, 2019

Less than a week ago, the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board declared the grad student unionization vote inconclusive. Now, organizers are calling on the board to set aside those election results and schedule a new election.

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