April 10, 2019

Dear Graduate Students,

In conversations with many of you ahead of the April 15–18 election, an essential question has come up: What’s actually on the table for negotiation if a graduate student union is certified?

Under Pennsylvania law, there are only three issues that the University and union can bargain over:

  • stipends,
  • benefits,
  • and “working conditions.”

That’s it.

Despite claims you may have heard, the union cannot bargain over the University’s budget, programs offered, admissions decisions, selection of students for academic appointments, how many academic appointments are offered, or class assignments.

In addition, the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board and Pennsylvania courts have never defined what’s covered under “working conditions” for graduate students who teach and conduct research as part of their academic experience. We don’t know how a union could affect research hours or other core components of the educational experience, because this is uncharted territory.

In short, a vote for the union does not guarantee improvements, no matter what the United Steelworkers might claim.

What we can say is this: we will continue our commitment to build on the progress we’ve made to support our graduate students.

Still have questions? Time is running out to get the facts. Join Provost Ann E. Cudd and me at tonight’s town hall event.

If you can’t attend in person, the session will be live streamed and archived at gradunionization.pitt.edu.

WHEN: Today! April 10, 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Alumni Hall, Seventh Floor Auditorium


Nathan Urban
Vice Provost for Graduate Studies

Graduate resources: gradstudents.pitt.edu
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E-mail: gradstudent@pitt.edu