Union negotiations hit bump over who’s represented


On May 12, the Union of Pitt Faculty posted a statement to its website stating that bargaining has been stymied by the Pitt administration’s proposal to exclude more than 600 faculty from the bargaining unit.

A Pitt spokesman said the University disputes the union’s assertion that its proposal “had either the intent or effect of excluding 600 faculty members from the unit.” 

The union said it has had five bargaining sessions with the administration and presented 11 written contract policy proposals on topics such as health and safety, academic freedom and faculty governance.

Pitt has issued just one written response about the bargaining unit, the union said, which the administration described as a “threshold” issue to further negotiations.

“The labor board has already ruled on which faculty should be included in the bargaining unit, and the administration agreed to their inclusion just last year,” the union statement said. “Changes to the bargaining unit would require approval by the labor board.”

“It is accurate that at the most recent bargaining session, the University offered a proposal related to recognition language, which is a standard provision in all collective bargaining agreements,” the Pitt spokesman said. “As the University explained to the union bargaining committee, the intent of the proposal was to clarify which positions are specifically covered by the PLRB certification language and related order, which are at times ambiguous or contradictory. Given the complexity of classifications and titles at the University, as is the case at any institution, this type of proposal is often a first step, or threshold issue, in any negotiation for both parties. 

“The University believes it is important to address these ambiguities and/or contradictions in order to facilitate future proposals and engage in meaningful negotiations.”

Neither the University nor the union specified which positions are in question as belonging in the bargaining unit.

“We entered into these negotiations with the hope that the administration would share our goal of quickly and efficiently negotiating a contract that would be beneficial for faculty as well as our institution,” the union’s statement said. “Sadly, it appears this is not the case.”

The University responded that, “… though the negotiation process can be lengthy, the University will continue to negotiate in good faith and work toward an agreement that reflects and incorporates our shared goals and mission.”

Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at suejones@pitt.edu or 724-244-4042.


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