Staff Council wants safe space to discuss possible union


Staff Council may consider holding forums to discuss the current move to create a staff union under the United Steelworkers.

While Staff Council officers are staying officially neutral, said the organization’s President Lindsay Rodzwicz, they met the day before their Feb. 15 meeting with Pitt’s Chief Legal Officer Geovette Washington to discuss the union. Staff Council is “looking for ways to foster” discussions about the possibility of a union, Rodzwicz said.

“I really feel like it’s ‘union: don’t ask, don’t tell,’” said Staff Council member Pam Rikstad, senior department administrator in communication science in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. “I’d rather have a safe opportunity with others to discuss it. …  I really wonder how I can have that.”

Human Resources head James Gallaher told the Staff Council meeting that HR has no plans to host any discussions, since the administration must remain officially neutral. Pitt could offer a meeting space but, “I would suggest it not be led by administration,” he added.

Rikstad asked whether there will be certain staff members prevented from joining discussions about selected issues under a staff union, as today there are certain faculty being kept from joining discussions that overlap the contract bargaining underway between the Union of Pitt Faculty and administration.

“Yes, you’re allowed to have an opinion,” Gallaher responded, but agreed that staff administrators and supervisors “would likely be excluded” from any future union and thus from discussions around issues about which the union and administration would negotiate — should a union be formed.

Corey James, financial aid coordinator in the School of Computing and Information, suggested that any discussion of a staff union should consider, “What would be the benefit of having a staff union? Would the union work with Staff Council?”

In other Staff Council news:

  • Gallaher said that HR’s compensation modernization effort “is still moving forward” and is now “walk(ing) through the job mapping” with supervisory personnel, adding that no timeline for implementing the project is ready to be announced but “behind the scenes we are finalizing the timeline” and expect to announce it “in the coming weeks.”

  • Pitt Day at Kennywood has not been finalized but is tentatively set for June 17.

  • The annual Spring Assembly will likely be in early May and focus on the Year of Emotional Well-Being.

  • Staff Council has gained 16 new members this spring.

Marty Levine is a staff writer for the University Times. Reach him at or 412-758-4859.


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