In the midst of upheaval in the top administrative ranks at Point Park University, there is a bright spot: The adjunct faculty union reached a three-year agreement after months of negotiations with the administration.

The 333 faculty who are members of USW Local 1088 will receive a 12% raise over three years, at a rate of 4% each year, with the new collective bargaining agreement. They will also be entitled to some graduate tuition discounts.

Michael Soto, the provost and senior vice president of academic affairs, announced the contract settlement in a Feb. 7 email to the Point Park community. He served as acting president after Don Green, the president for only about 18 months, resigned abruptly for personal reasons on Jan. 20. Chris Brussalis, a longtime member of the board of trustees, was named interim president on Feb. 1.

Soto said the agreement delivers “a deserved raise and new benefits.” On Feb. 17 he wrote, “At Point Park, we’re serious about preparing our students for lifelong career success, and our talented faculty are at the heart of this vital work. The new agreement with our part-time faculty union recognizes their essential roles in providing high-impact, experiential learning both on campus and in our dynamic Downtown setting.”

Richard Schiavoni, the union president, said negotiations had begun in late spring 2022 and dragged on through the fall semester. Wage increases proved to be a sticking point, although the two sides resolved many noneconomic issues quickly.

The university’s first offer was a 1% raise, he said, which the union rejected in its effort to secure a multiyear agreement.

“We believe in equal pay for equal work,” Schiavoni said. “The goal here was to equate and line up with the lowest ranking [Point Park full-time] faculty member to get pay parity with what they make per credit. The university has disagreed with this. [They] believe they pay what is fair and competitive compared to other colleges and universities [of its size].”

The second offer in early fall was a 2% increase, so Schiavoni said the union brought attention to the low pay offers by distributing flyers during residential student move-in at the start of the fall semester and in October at a Pittsburgh Playhouse at Point Park opening event. The union received support from now-U.S. Rep. Chris Deluzio, D-Aspinwall, and some full-time Point Park faculty and members of other unions.

The administration “scolded us” for those actions, Schiavoni said, but “it hurt us to hear the university say things like ‘All you do is teach,’ ” and part-time faculty are not required to hold office hours or advise students like the full-time faculty.

“Our response: We do have office hours, even if you don’t mandate them,” he said. “My students know I am there for them. The university prides itself on hiring adjuncts from professional fields. We are de-facto advisers even if the university doesn’t recognize that.” 

Schiavoni said it took until December for the union to see meaningful movement from the university.

“They would point to enrollment decline,” he said. “They weren’t giving us anything economically that was realistic.”

Finally, after the university offered the union a 5% raise, the union asked for a federal mediator, who Schiavoni said moved along negotiations to their conclusion. Besides the pay increase, the university offered a 25% discount for members and their dependents on graduate-level courses and 25% for members for doctoral courses.

“That is definitely a nice gesture,” Schiavoni said.  The discount is not only a cost saving for union members but also entitles adjuncts to take classes and earn degrees that permit them to teach a wider range of subjects.

On Dec. 16, the union told the university it was where it wanted to be with negotiations, although it did not come to terms on an advertised full range of benefits — health care, dental and vision — for part-time faculty, but the two sides disagree on how the university calculates total working hours. Schiavoni said the requirement is the employee has to work 130 hours a month over 12 months, but Point Park will only count adjuncts’ class time, which averages about 36 hours a month.

Schiavoni said his members voted on it over the holiday break from classes, and 97% approved it by a deadline of Dec. 30.  The contract came into effect this semester.

Helen is a copy editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but she's currently on strike. Contact her at

Helen Fallon

Helen is a copy editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but she's currently on strike. Contact her at