Pitt disputes claims of union suppression
University of Pittsburgh officials are denying student claims that their choice of locations for a union election for graduate student workers was an attempt to suppress the voting turnout.
Graduate teaching and research assistants at Pitt won a right to hold a union election last week when the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board ruled against the university’s claims that those involved were students, not university employees.
An election among some 2,000 graduate student workers will take place later this spring.
Monday, union organizers said Pitt’s push to have the election held at Benedum Hall or the Biomedical Science Tower, amounted to an attempt to suppress voter turnout. They said graduate students would be more likely to vote if the balloting was held in the Cathedral of Learning or the William Pitt Union, two more centrally located buildings.
Pitt spokesman Joe Miksch on Tuesday said Pitt proposed to hold the election on unionization at Benedum Hall or the Biomedical Science Tower because “both buildings are home to or are convenient to many graduate students.”
“The (William Pitt) Union is home to very few graduate students. Holding elections there runs counter to our intent, which is to support all eligible graduate students in their right to vote. It’s also worth noting that the location of elections is ultimately a matter to be decided by the PLRB,” Miksch said in an email.
Deb Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Deb at 412-320-7996, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .