The Pitt News

A multi-year attempt to unionize more than 2,000 graduate students at Pitt appeared to have fallen through earlier this month when the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board upheld graduate students’ April 2019 vote against unionization. But United Steelworkers, the union aiding Pitt graduate students’ and faculty’s unionization efforts, filed an exception to that ruling last Thursday.

Grad union organizers appeal PLRB decision, continue campaigning despite setbacks

By Neena Hagen, Senior Staff Writer March 26, 2021
Pitt grad union organizers filed an exception to a March 1 decision by the PLRB that upheld the 2019 vote against unionizing. Organizers argue the University didn’t provide sufficient evidence to show that its coercive conduct did not substantially affect the vote tally.
The Graduate Student Organizing Committee released a petition — addressed to Provost Ann Cudd, Chancellor Patrick Gallagher and the Board of Trustees — that asked Pitt’s administration to grant every funded graduate student the option of a one-year funding extension. It also calls for extra support for students who are parents or those struggling with housing, assistance for international students in navigating visa issues and more mental health services.

Grad union organizers criticize lack of no-questions-asked funding extension amid pandemic

By Nathan Fitchett, Senior Staff Writer February 5, 2021
The Graduate Student Organizing Committee is criticizing the University’s refusal to grant a no-questions-asked funding extension to graduate students amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Pitt is offering funding on a case-by-case basis, but didn’t respond to requests for comment on the specifics of the application.
Pitt’s Office of University Counsel paid Philadelphia-based Ballard Spahr $881,069 in fees between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020 to contest simultaneous but separate unionization attempts by faculty and graduate students.

Pitt spends additional $881K on ‘union avoidance’ law firm, pushing total over $2M

By Neena Hagen, Senior Staff Writer January 29, 2021
Ballard Spahr, a “union avoidance” law firm, received roughly $881,000 from Pitt between July 2019 and June 2020. Pitt has now paid the firm more than $2 million since grad student and faculty unionization efforts kicked off in 2016.
Graduate student union organizers delivered a broken heart for Valentine's Day to Chancellor Patrick Gallagher on Friday afternoon, in a demonstration to raise awareness for their ongoing campaign to establish a graduate student union.

Grad union organizers deliver broken heart to Chancellor Gallagher

By Jon Moss and Benjamin Nigrosh February 14, 2020
Grad union organizers delivered a Valentine’s Day gift, with a twist, to Chancellor Patrick Gallagher on Friday afternoon.
Grad union organizers

Grad union organizers planning second election for this semester

By Neena Hagen, Senior Staff Writer February 4, 2020
After months of hearings, appeals and legal disputes between Pitt and graduate student union organizers, Pat Healy, an organizer and Ph.D. student, said the road to a possible graduate student union has been “tiring.”
Union organizer Kim Garrett addresses the crowd at Bernie Sanders’ rally in Schenley Plaza in April.

Grad union organizers ready campaign for second election

By Jon Moss, Assistant News Editor September 24, 2019
Just days after a Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board official ruled that Pitt committed unfair labor practices during April’s graduate student union election and ordered a new election, union organizers said they are gearing up for a second election sometime this semester.
Carnegie Library workers voted on August 25 to form a union.

Pittsburgh’s Labor Day legacy continues to evolve

By Maureen Hartwell, Staff Writer September 2, 2019
For the past 37 years, Pittsburgh has hosted the largest Labor Day parade in the United States — Monday’s parade drew an estimated 50,000 marchers Downtown.
Pitt grad student union organizers, in conjunction with United Steelworkers, projected their campaign logo on the Cathedral last year.

Graduate students make their case for unionization

By Janine Faust, Managing Editor October 9, 2018
After a week of testimony in front of the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, the administration could not present all its witnesses in the original time frame allotted to them by the board.
Signs supporting the grad and faculty unions hang on a window in the Cathedral of Leaning. (Photo by John Hamilton / Managing Editor)

Pitt grad students file for union election

By John Hamilton / Managing Editor December 15, 2017

Graduate students at Pitt filed for a union election Friday, indicating that at least 30 percent of Pitt grad students have signed union cards. Students delivered union cards to the Pennsylvania Labor...

Grad student organizers project their campaign's logo on the Cathedral.(Photo courtesy of Brennan Chambre)

Student organizers react to admin’s union oppositon

Rachel Coombs was conducting research in a biology lab in late July when she found herself enraged by an email from Pitt Provost Patricia Beeson. Coombs, a Ph.D. student studying biological sciences,...

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