Election Timing and Process

The Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (PLRB) has indicated that a graduate student union election will be held April 15–18, 2019.

Voting will take place 9 a.m.–5 p.m. in the following locations:

  • April 15–16: Posvar Hall, Room 2501
  • April 17–18: O'Hara Student Center, Second Floor Ballroom

Eligible Voters

As of March 11, 2019, a Hearing Examiner appointed by the PLRB has determined that students on academic appointments—teaching assistants, teaching fellows, graduate student assistants, graduate student researchers—can participate in an election to unionize. Trainees and fellows cannot participate.

Emails have been sent to students whose records indicate they are eligible to vote. If you are unsure, you can still show up to vote and your ballot will be counted if the PLRB finds you are eligible.

Election Process

The election is administered by the PLRB, not the University. The PLRB will have a list of eligible voters at each polling place. The PLRB official will check your name on its voter list and may ask for your Pitt ID. The voter list only indicates the names of the voters.

If eligible to vote (your name is on the list), you will be given a ballot to complete in a voting booth. If you think you are supposed to be in the bargaining unit and your name is not on the list, you can still ask to vote and your ballot will be considered a challenged ballot.

The PLRB official will provide a paper ballot that will indicate a choice between being represented by the union or continuing not to be represented. You complete the ballot by checking the box of your choice and placing your completed ballot in the ballot box.

This is a secret ballot. There is no identifying information on the ballot. Only you know how you voted.  

It is important that all students make their voice heard in the election. The election outcome is determined by the majority of those who vote, not a majority of those eligible to vote. There is no minimum number of students who must vote in an election. If the union receives more than 50 percent of the votes cast, the union will be certified as the exclusive bargaining representative for the entire bargaining unit. It is not 50 percent of the bargaining unit that determines the outcome, it is 50 percent of the people who actually vote.

After the Election

At the end of the election, a representative of the PLRB counts the ballots and announces the results. After the votes are counted, the PLRB either certifies the outcome of the election or determines that additional proceedings are necessary to address challenged ballots.

After the PLRB announces the election results, either side can file challenges with the PLRB regarding:

  • which students were included in the unit determination by the Hearing Examiner;
  • the way the PLRB conducted the election; and
  • the outcome of any challenged ballots.

After legal challenges are resolved, the PLRB either issues a certification of the bargaining unit if the union prevails or issues an order of dismissal if the University prevails.

If a union is ultimately certified, the parties begin the process of collective bargaining.

Read more about the unionization process in the FAQs.