Pitt graduate workers blast university for union suppression tactics | TribLIVE.com

Pitt graduate workers blast university for union suppression tactics

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

Graduate student workers at the University of Pittsburgh say school officials are trying to suppress voter turnout for an upcoming union election by insisting it be held at two locations removed from the center of the Oakland campus.

Last week, the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board ruled against the university’s attempts to halt a union election by the Graduate Student Organizing Committee and the United Steelworkers. Pitt officials had contested their calls for an election, saying the graduate student teaching and research assistants were students, not university employees.

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.

Some 2,000 graduate student teaching and research assistants are eligible to vote in the union election.

Now organizers say university administrators are attempting to push the PLRB and the union to hold the election at the Biomedical Science Tower and Benedum Hall, the home of Swanson School of Engineering, rather than buildings in the campus center like the William Pitt Union or the Cathedral of Learning.

“Keep the vote fair by locating polling places in a convenient place for the most grads. Anything less amounts to the administration’s continued disregard for the rights of its grad student employees,” Patrick Beckhorn, a teaching fellow in the Anthropology Department said in a statement charging Pitt with trying to limit participation in the vote to be held later this spring.

Pitt officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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

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