PLRB Hearing Examiner Rules Pitt Inflated Faculty List to Impede Union

Contact: R.J. Hufnagel,, 412-562-2450

A Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (PLRB) hearing examiner ruled today that the University of Pittsburgh administration artificially inflated a list of its faculty employees in order to impede a unionization campaign by the workers to join the United Steelworkers (USW).

PLRB Hearing Examiner Stephen A. Helmerich said that the employee list the administration provided to the board “was factually and legally inaccurate” and that more than 300 names should be removed, including upper administrators, supervisors and others, including some who had left the university years earlier.

In order to trigger a unionization vote, the union needed to show support from at least 30 percent of the potential bargaining unit. The administration supplied an inflated list, which included more than 4,000 names, making that 30 percent threshold harder to reach.

“This is only the most recent example of the administration’s hostility to the faculty exercising their right to vote,” said Peter Campbell, assistant professor of English. “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.”

The USW expects the administration to appeal the ruling. The administration spent more than $1 million over the 2018-2019 fiscal year on fees to the union-busting law firm Ballard Spahr.

“Using frivolous litigation to delay an election is a classic union-busting tactic,” said Claude Mauk, senior lecturer in linguistics. “Clearly they’re worried that faculty, once they have the choice, will seize the opportunity to compel the administration to shift the university's priorities back to the teaching, research, and clinical work that faculty do.”

“It’s appalling that, during a period in which many of the university’s lowest-paid faculty are being laid off, the administration is choosing to spend taxpayer dollars and student tuition on unionbusting,” said USW International President Tom Conway.

The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in many industries that include metals, mining, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining, the service, public and health care sectors and higher education.

Press Inquiries

Media Contacts

Communications Director:
Jess Kamm at 412-562-2446

USW@WORK (USW magazine)
Editor R.J. Hufnagel

For industry specific inquiries,
Call USW Communications at 412-562-2442

Mailing Address

United Steelworkers
Communications Department
60 Blvd. of the Allies
Pittsburgh, PA 15222