The Election Process

Faculty Union Election Key Dates

The Election

On Friday, July 16, 2021, the University received official word that the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (PLRB) will conduct an election to determine if Pitt’s faculty will be represented by the United Steelworkers. The election will be held by mail. The PLRB will mail ballots to all eligible voters on Friday, August 27, and ballots must be returned by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, October 12, 2021. Ballots received by the PLRB after that point will not be counted, regardless of when they are postmarked. 

If a simple majority of votes cast in the election (not a majority of those eligible to vote) favor representation by the union, the union becomes the exclusive bargaining representative for all employees in the bargaining unit. Put another way, while calling for a vote requires signatures of 30% of the full faculty, the outcome of the vote is determined by a simple majority of those who vote—not a majority of the full faculty. There is no minimum number of voters who decide the results of the election. While the University has no position on what the outcome should be, we strongly encourage eligible voters to consider the matter seriously and to participate.


Ballots will be counted by the PLRB at its Harrisburg office beginning Tuesday, October 19, 2021. 

If the majority of voting, eligible faculty members elect unionization, the PLRB will certify the bargaining unit. If the majority of the votes are for no representative, the PLRB will dismiss the petition for representation. Either party can challenge the conduct of the election, including challenges to who was or was not permitted to vote. If challenges to the conduct of the election are filed, they will be resolved before the results of the election are certified. Once the results of the election are certified, exceptions may be filed, including challenges to the decision to direct the election. Until any exceptions are resolved by the PLRB, collective bargaining will not begin. Once the PLRB decides the exceptions, review in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania may be sought. 

Collective Bargaining

Once an election is decided and any exceptions are resolved by the PLRB, then the employer and the union are required to bargain in good faith over wages, hours and working conditions. Many employment policies and benefits would be subject to negotiation. Things such as selection and direction of personnel and management of operations are not subject to bargaining. Any contract will only contain terms that are mutually agreeable to the union and the employer. Once the union and employer bargaining teams reach an agreement, the union usually submits that to the employees in the bargaining unit for ratification. If that happens, the contract only becomes effective once it is ratified by the bargaining unit.