Hundreds of University of Pittsburgh graduate workers and their allies on Tuesday gathered on the first floor of the Cathedral of Learning in a show of solidarity as they delivered a letter to Pitt Chancellor Joan Gabel calling for voluntary recognition of their union.
Graduate workers began collecting union authorization cards in October, and since then, a strong majority of them signed, signaling their intent to organize.
Voluntary recognition means the employer accepts the signed authorization cards as proof of workers’ desire to unionize rather than forcing them to also go through a lengthy election process.
Pitt grad workers, many of whom earn wages below $25,000 per year, are seeking to join the United Steelworkers, according to that union’s news release. They want a voice on crucial workplace issues like the recent spikes in their health care costs, as well as other concerns, including family leave and sick leave policies and stronger enforcement of anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies.
If Gabel fails to recognize the union, the group plans to file on behalf of the 2,100 graduate workers for an election through the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board on Wednesday.