PLRB hearings set for Dec. 2-4 in faculty union dispute


The Union of Pitt Faculty and Pitt legal representatives will continue their dispute over the appropriate bargaining unit size in a new round of hearings scheduled for Dec. 2 to 4

This follows a set of hearings held in July when union legal representatives from the United Steelworkers claimed that Pitt “deliberately inflated” the proposed bargaining unit it sent to the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board to 4,018 employees.

USW legal representatives said 800 people don’t belong in the University’s proposed bargaining unit. Overall, the union estimates the appropriate bargaining unit size to be roughly 3,300 people. 

Pitt representatives have repeatedly denied accusations of packing the list of the University’s bargaining unit.

In April, the PLRB initially denied a hearing for the union, claiming it hadn’t met the original 30 percent threshold of support for its proposed bargaining unit. It based its decision on the proposed bargaining unit that Pitt submitted. The union successfully appealed the decision later that month.

Union representatives, who haven’t disclosed the exact number of cards the union sent to the PLRB in January, have said in the past they had a “significant cushion” of support over the required 30 percent threshold.

Both parties created their proposed bargaining unit sizes using scanned, hand-written employee records forms. Following the July hearings, the PLRB ordered Pitt’s legal representatives, Ballard Spahr, to turn over records for the 800 people in dispute by Nov. 1.

In a statement, the University said: “Following the Hearing Examiner’s direction, the University carefully reviewed over 1,500 pages of paper-based employee records and shared them with the United Steelworkers on November 1, 2019. We want to make absolutely clear that all records were heavily redacted in accordance with the Hearing Examiner’s direction to avoid sharing sensitive information, to protect the privacy of our faculty.  We look forward to the upcoming PLRB hearing on the showing of interest list.”

A ruling on the official bargaining unit size won’t be issued at the end of the hearings but is expected in the following months.

Donovan Harrell is a writer for the University Times. Reach him at or 412-383-9905. 


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