Pa. Labor Relations Board rules for Pitt graduate researchers, teaching assistants |

Pa. Labor Relations Board rules for Pitt graduate researchers, teaching assistants

Deb Erdley
The Cathedral of Learning on the University of Pittsburgh campus in Oakland

Some 2,000 University of Pittsburgh graduate student researchers, teaching assistants and teaching fellows are university employees and have the right to join a union, the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board ruled.

The group began organizing under the auspices of the Pittsburgh-based United Steelworkers in January 2016 and filed for a union election in December 2017.

Pitt officials, however, filed an objection to the petition. Pitt maintained the graduate workers were students, not employees. A state Labor Relations Board hearing officer heard arguments on the issue in October and issued a ruling in favor of the graduate assistants and researchers Thursday.

United Steelworkers International President Leo W. Gerard applauded the decision.

“Pitt’s grad students work hard as teachers and as researchers, providing valuable services to the university. They are absolutely employees and deserve a seat at the table,” Gerard said in a statement.

University officials were disappointed with the ruling and are evaluating their options, said Pitt spokesman Joseph Miksch. But Pitt will follow the PLRB process, Miksch said.

Graduate students who will be eligible to vote are teaching assistants, teaching fellows, graduate student assistants and graduate student researchers, Miksch said.

“Currently, that is approximately 2,000 graduate students,” he said. “We will prepare a list of eligible voters who are in these groups based on their appointments for the spring semester.”

He said representatives of the university, the United Steelworkers and the PLRB will set a date and place for the election.

“We encourage all eligible students to be fully informed on this important issue — and to vote and make their voices heard when the election occurs,” Miksch said.

Deb Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Deb at 724-850-1209, [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Local | Regional
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.