News to Know

Update: March 18, 2022

On March 18, 2022, the United Steelworkers withdrew its petition for review of the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board's decision pertaining to the graduate student union election. 

Update: March 1, 2021

A Message from the Vice Provost for Graduate Studies

Dear Graduate Students,

Following the graduate student union election in April 2019, in which students voted against unionization, the United Steelworkers challenged the results. Friday, the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (PLRB) issued a ruling dismissing the United Steelworkers petition to represent Pitt graduate students, upholding the results of the April 2019 election. 

As always, the University remains deeply committed to supporting graduate students. We have all worked together to navigate the challenges of the pandemic—and I am proud of the grace and support you’ve extended to one another. Please don’t forget to take care of yourselves and reach out for help when you need it.

If you have any questions, want to bring ideas to the table, or would simply like to say hello, I encourage you to reach out by email or stop by my virtual office hours, and I look forward to the day we can be safely together on campus again.

Amanda J. Godley
Vice Provost for Graduate Studies

Read this message in the email format »


Update: October 9, 2019

On October 9, 2019, Vice Provost Nathan Urban sent an email to doctoral students alerting them to the filing of exceptions by both parties to the PLRB hearing officer's proposed decision, sharing the University's perspective, and summarizing activities to date.

Update: October 8, 2019

The University of Pittsburgh has filed exceptions to the hearing examiner’s proposed decision and maintains that the institution acted appropriately leading up to and throughout the April 2019 election, when a majority of graduate students voted against representation by the United Steelworkers.

The hearing examiner ruled that nine of the 12 allegations filed by the Steelworkers did not have merit. Of the remaining three allegations: Two counts were related to factual statements made on the University’s website that are similar in nature to other statements found by the hearing examiner to be appropriate. The third count pertains to an email sent to a small number of eligible voters. In this email, a department chair encourages students to vote—and does not pick a side—while also linking to information from both the Steelworkers and the University.

All of the communications in question are accurate, appropriate, and factual. The University looks forward to a closer review—with full context considered—of these three counts in question. 

Update: PLRB Proposed Ruling

September 18, 2019

The University of Pittsburgh has just received the hearing examiner’s proposed ruling. The University acted appropriately throughout this election—where Pitt graduate students voted not to be represented by the United Steelworkers—and we strongly disagree with any suggestion to the contrary. We will review this proposed ruling and next steps.

Graduate Student Union Election Update

The vote count from April’s unionization vote was 712 against unionization and 675 in favor. Following the election, the United Steelworkers challenged the actions of both the University of Pittsburgh and the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board related to the election. Therefore, the election results have not yet been certified. Hearings on these charges were held on May 14 and 15, 2019. We anticipate that a final ruling on these charges will not be made until sometime in the fall semester.  

Since the election, Vice Provost Nathan Urban noted that he has spoken to many students with a variety of opinions about unionization. His main message throughout this process is that he, personally, and the University, institutionally, are committed to the success of Pitt's graduate students. Vice Provost Urban continues to work to improve the University's graduate programs and the experience of Pitt students, and he wants to work with students toward these goals. Some students have expressed concern that the election created division in the graduate student community. As a University, we are dedicated to maintaining a community that is able to express opposing views while also supporting all of our students. Vice Provost Urban invites any student with ideas or concerns to reach out by email or to set up a meeting with him to discuss how we can work to make Pitt an even more outstanding place for graduate education.

Union Election Results Announced

On May 2, 2019, Vice Provost Nathan Urban sent an email notification regarding the outcome of the union election: Graduate students at the University of Pittsburgh have voted against unionizing, with a final vote count of 712 against unionization and 675 in favor.

Update: April 26 Vote Count

As we wait for the challenges to be resolved and the final vote count to be determined, we want to say thank you to all students who participated in this election process. We also want to remind students that no matter how you voted, the University of Pittsburgh remains committed to supporting you and your academic success.

Thank You

April 19, 2019

Dear Graduate Students,

To everyone who engaged in the graduate student union election by voting, asking questions, attending information sessions, and sharing their ideas and concerns: Thank you.

The road to the election week hasn’t always been easy, but it has reminded me that:

  1. Our students are remarkable.
    We’ve spoken often about the graduate student experience at Pitt. During these conversations, you were passionate, articulate, and thoughtful—and didn’t always agree. Yet, you remained committed to your beliefs, this University, and each other.
  2. We still have work to do.
    You have shared many concerns and ideas for improvement—and these conversations will continue. Together, we’ll keep making progress.
  3. We all want a quality experience for our graduate students.
    We may have different ideas on how to get there, but we’re all working toward the same goals.

Next Friday, April 26, the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board will announce the results of the election. At this time, they will either certify the outcome or decide if additional proceedings are necessary. When this happens, we’ll email you the results and post them online.

Regardless of the final vote count, it’s worth reiterating that both I and the University will remain dedicated to supporting you. And—while you won’t be hearing from me quite as often in the days ahead—I look forward to continuing our conversations. So, keep asking me questions, stop by my office hours, and bring me your ideas. I'll update you in my monthly newsletter. Together, we’ll keep working to create the best Pitt possible.

Thanks again, 

Vice Provost for Graduate Studies

Your Vote Matters! Vote Today

On April 18, 2019, the last day of the elections, Vice Provost Nathan Urban sent a message to all eligible voters encouraging them to vote and sharing the misgivings about unionization he has heard from graduate students.

International Students: We Want to Hear from You

On April 18, 2019, Vice Provost Nathan Urban sent a message to eligible voters in our international graduate student community encouraging them to vote and reminding them of the University's commitment to them and all graduate students.

Vote at O'Hara Student Center Today

Good News! There's Still Time to Vote

On April 16, 2019, Vice Provost Nathan Urban sent a message to eligible voters thanking those who have already voted and encouraging others to take part in the election process.

The Polls Are Open: Vote!

On April 15, 2019, Vice Provost Nathan Urban sent an email asking eligible voters to take part in this week's elections.

Please Vote: A Message from the Provost

On April 14, 2019, Vice Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Ann E. Cudd sent an email to eligible voters urging them to make their voice heard by voting in the April 15–18 elections.