PLRB rules Pitt list for faculty union was ‘legally inaccurate’


A ruling from the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board determined that the University of Pittsburgh handed over a “factually and legally inaccurate” list of employees in the proposed bargaining unit in the ongoing faculty union effort.

PLRB Hearing Examiner Stephen Helmrich sent the ruling on June 25 to the union’s legal representatives, the United Steelworkers, and the University’s legal representatives, Ballard Spahr.

Helmrich determined that the University submitted an “inaccurate” list of employees in its proposed bargaining unit contained supervisory and managerial employees, according to the ruling. The union’s proposed bargaining unit excluded employees with these positions.

University spokesman Pat McMahon said in an email that the University has not acted inappropriately during this unionization process.

“We disagree with the PLRB’s decision, and will carefully consider our next steps,” McMahon said. “We remain confident that the University’s handling of this matter has been appropriate.”

Both the union and the University’s legal representatives have not been able to agree on how large the proposed bargaining unit should be.

When the union handed in its petition, it was required to show support from at least 30 percent of the proposed bargaining unit.

The union has not released the exact number of people who signed cards to support the union, but union representatives have said in the past that they made sure they had “a significant cushion” of votes over the required threshold.

“This is only the most recent example of the administration’s hostility to the faculty exercising their right to vote,” Peter Campbell, an assistant professor of English, said in a news release. “The administration also recently had the Faculty Association of the School of Medicine abolished, which had existed since 1976, without allowing the faculty it represented to vote on it.”

There’s no strict timeframe for when the University can file an exception to the ruling, but union representatives expect them to.

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


Have a story idea or news to share? Share it with the University Times.

Follow the University Times on Twitter and Facebook.