Labor dispute escalates as Pitt declines to comply with subpoena
Relations between officials at the University of Pittsburgh and the leaders of a faculty union drive deteriorated this week after Pitt officials refused to comply with a sweeping subpoena from the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board.
Pitt faculty representatives filed for a union election in January, following a lengthy organizing drive that went public a year earlier.
When the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board rejected that petition saying organizers failed to obtain endorsements for at least 30 percent of the proposed collective bargaining unit, the United Steelworkers of America cried foul.
Organizers alleged that Pitt officials padded the size of the proposed bargaining unit with several hundred names “including deans and other administrators, graduate student employees, undergraduate students, faculty who haven’t taught at Pitt in years, faculty who are retired, and even a few faculty who are deceased.”
The Labor Relations Board scheduled a July 24 hearing on their appeal and issued a subpoena ordering the university to disclose additional information about Pitt’s faculty to union organizers.
Pitt spokesman Joe Miksch defended the accuracy of Pitt’s decision and its faculty lists. He said the lists included full and part-time faculty, with the exception of those in the school of medicine.
“This sweeping subpoena attempts to shift responsibility onto Pitt to prove that the list is accurate, as the Steelworkers seek thousands of pages of personal information about more than 4,000 faculty members, including payroll data, assignments and disability information. We disagree with this tactic and look forward to following the PLRB process to resolve this matter,” Miksch wrote when asked about union organizers’ complaints.
William Scott, an associate professor of English, said he was not surprised that officials refused to comply with the subpoena.
“It’s clear that (Chancellor Patrick Gallagher) knows a majority of faculty want a union and is willing to do anything to keep us from voting,” Scott said.
Deb Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Deb at 724-850-1209, [email protected] or via Twitter .