The Pitt News

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.

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

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.
Paul Johnson, a faculty union organizer and Pitt communications professor, gives information about the union’s progress to about 50 people in the William Pitt Union Ballroom in January 2018.

Part 3 | Faculty union organizers’ next steps

By Neena Hagen, Senior Staff Writer October 17, 2019
Forming a faculty union at a Pennsylvania university actually isn’t too complicated — in theory.
University of Pittsburgh faculty unionizers at the People’s Pride parade in June 2018.

Part 2 | A look at the back-and-forth between Pitt, faculty union organizers

Organizers accused Pitt of inflating the bargaining unit to derail unionization efforts. Pitt representatives called it a misunderstanding.
By Neena Hagen, Senior Staff Writer October 17, 2019
An “inflated” union eligibility list dilutes the significance of each authorization card, making it harder for union organizers to collect cards from the 30% of faculty needed to prompt a union election.
Hearing Examiner Stephen Helmerich said Pitt committed “coercive acts” leading up to the April grad student unionization vote.

Pitt files exception to proposed grad union ruling

By Jon Moss, Assistant News Editor October 8, 2019
Pitt filed an exception Tuesday to a proposed ruling by the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board.
Faculty union organizers challenged hundreds of the names Pitt included in its list of faculty eligible for a bargaining unit.

Faculty union organizers up in arms after Pitt’s administration rejects Labor Board subpoena

By Neena Hagen, Senior Staff Writer July 19, 2019
After ruling June 18 that the size of the bargaining unit for Pitt’s faculty union was under review, the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board ordered Pitt to turn over several pieces of information to faculty union organizers — most notably, a list of faculty eligible to be in the potential bargaining unit.
Faculty union organizers challenged hundreds of the names Pitt included in its list of faculty eligible for a bargaining unit.

PLRB orders hearing on faculty union complaint

By Neena Hagen, Senior Staff Writer June 18, 2019
Faculty union organizers faced a major setback when the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board ruled in April they failed to collect enough signed authorization cards to prompt a union election.
Grad students will vote on whether or not to establish a union between April 15 and 18.

PLRB hears grad student union election objection in downtown hearing

By Vaibhav Gupta, Staff Writer May 15, 2019
Nestled in a small office in downtown’s Piatt Place building, a group of lawyers debated the future of Pitt graduate student unionization Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Pitt graduate student union election results were announced on April 26.

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

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

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

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.
The Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board has declined to hold a hearing on Pitt faculty organizers’ election petition.

No hearing for Pitt faculty union, organizers plan appeal

By Emily Wolfe, Assistant News Editor April 18, 2019
The state labor relations board ruled Thursday that faculty organizers fell short in their efforts to collect signed authorization cards from faculty. Organizers plan to appeal the decision.
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